Sex, Sex, Sex... and the Nation: Sex and the City's® Impact on Today

Sex, Sex, Sex ... and the Nation

by Trisha Hurlburt

Carrie. Samantha. Miranda. Charlotte. I know you know who I'm talking about, and if you don't, well, I'd suggest you move along because you will get nothing out of this article. I say this with love, naturally, but still, really, you should go.

From the beginning, Sex and the City ® has been different. Based on Candace Bushnell's series of New York Observer columns (which are, in turn, loosely based on her own single-gal adventures), Sex and the City ® not only shows fabulous clothes and shoes and places to be, but also portrays -- in great detail -- all things sexual: men having sex, women having sex. At any given time, someone on the show is having sex -- and it's about time!

The show itself is essentially just about four women living and working in New York City. However, watching an episode is like being a fly on the wall of any group of close friends -- albeit, really well paid, fashion-forward friends with incredible jobs. There's career-driven Miranda, princessy, marriage-minded Charlotte, narcissistic, "slutty" Samantha and neurotic gal-pal Carrie.

Why do they affect us the way they do? Because they're each composites of women we are, women we know and women we want to be. They talk about sex the way we do with our friends, with all the minute details, embarrassing moments, ecstatic orgasms and the other horrible and wonderful things that go along with sexual encounters.

A case in point is the first season episode that introduces the Rabbit Pearl. An entire story arc was devoted to Charlotte's discovery of and obsession with this little bunny-shaped vibe. In the end, her friends had to perform an intervention because Charlotte was blowing them off to spend time with her new friend. Now, honestly, who hasn't wanted to call in sick to work or cancel plans to spend time with a vibrating playmate? Anyone? Just me? Yes, um, well, moving right along then...

Sex and the City ® certainly does not shy away from sex toys of any kind. Over the past few years on the show, we've seen a plethora of interesting toys, including the Love Swing, a strap-on dildo, a whip and even fake nipples!
Nor does Sex and the City ® consider any topic taboo: We've seen female ejaculation, hot lesbian sex and a gentleman into "water sports." I remember well the episode in which Carrie was finally relaxed enough in bed with Mr. Big that she accidentally, uh, "shared" a little too much. Her toot -- and the mortification of trying to deal with it -- must have hit home with many ladies. I'm not naming names.

As far out as some of the episodes have been, there's always something folks can relate to. Not too long ago, a friend of mine described to me a surreal scene in which her mom and she were actually discussing the merits and drawbacks of fake nipples in a semi-serious way. The discussion apparently evolved from to a debate on vibrators! This little tête-à-tête, from two women who previously had barely ever referenced sex and sensuality, particularly their own, was remarkable.

Am I suggesting that the mere mention of a sex toy on a television show will open up glorious paths of enlightenment and intimacy with those near and dear? Well, no, but the fact that the topic is sex lets the whole idea of sexuality, and everything that means to different people, creep a little closer to the mainstream. Which I think is wonderful … and not just because I'm in the "industry"!

I find myself having conversations with friends about very personal sexual situations that we certainly never discussed in the past. True, that's partially because I work for a sex toy company, but I really have noticed those around me have opened up and shared more because it seems more socially acceptable. I've become much more frank and experimental with my own boyfriend, because I feel comfortable enough to do so.

I've seen and heard almost everything there is about many different aspects of sex -- through work, the media, movies, television, books, personal experience -- and realized that my own wants and fantasies aren't that weird. Just the fact that I'm able to share these little nuggets of information is hard to imagine even a couple of years ago and I've never considered myself a prude. Honestly, I think more and more people out there are feeling the same way. For that, I have to give credit to Sex and the City ® ... and MyPleasure, of course!

The bottom line is that we need a fresh, groundbreaking show like Sex and the City ® to remind us that while sex can be many things, it's not wrong or bad. Sex is a messy, complicated, pleasurable joy. It's embarrassing and funny and weird. Keep that in mind the next time you're hesitant to tell your partner you can only have an orgasm if you're on top or that giving a blowjob doesn't really entail any blowing. Perhaps ask yourself, "What would Carrie do?"