Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.
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Pure Sex, Pure Love
Why Girls Watch Sex & the City: It's more than the shoes, boys
Last summer, my boyfriend broke up with me. It was one of those almost-perfect relationships where you are well matched in everything, but there’s just no spark. Immediately I sent out an email to a dozen girlfriends titled “Emergency Girls Drinks.” I’d been dumped, I said, and I needed some support. These were 12 busy women – junior ambassadors, business executives and new mothers – but they all cancelled their plans to meet me at a local bar. One ordered champagne to toast to my freedom. Another listed all the reasons why I was too fabulous for him anyway. And by the end of the night I was laughing, not crying.
Now that Sex and the City is on basic cable, the dating traumas, frank discussions and shopping sprees of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are bared—with very little editing for language and nudity—for all of us to see. Sure, the show doesn’t reflect our real lives, but most girls I know enjoy watching it. Why? It’s not for the reasons you guys might think:
Sex and the City’s popularity is its basic message that life doesn’t always work out the way we expect it to, but close friends will help us get through it all. As Carrie says, “No matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never get through it without your friends.”
And in each group of friends, there probably is a Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda or maybe even a Samantha. A TBS poll asked more than 8500 online viewers what character on the show they think they’re most like. Thirty-four percent said Carrie, 32% said Charlotte, 19% voted for Samantha and 15% saw themselves in the Miranda character.
In a slightly smaller BustedHalo poll, more than half of female respondents said they saw themselves as Charlotte, with just a few votes each coming in for Carrie and Miranda, and no votes for Samantha.
Kim, 32, says she watches the show because it accurately deals with questions of commitment and dating horror stories. Susan, 22, agrees: “I think that though “Sex and the City” gets a bad rap for its frankness about sexual matters, it does an excellent job examining the issues of friends, career and sanity that every woman fights to keep.”
The Church tells us that sex before marriage is a sin, and there’s a strong chastity movement on college campuses and beyond. Yet many thoughtful and faithful young Catholics see it as a little less black and white. If you are single, are you abstaining from sexual relationships before marriage? And if you are married, what choice did you make—and how do you think it affected your relationship? Please respond honestly (and anonymously) to our survey so we can have a frank discussion about this very important issue for young Catholics.
Have you had pre-marital sex?
Do you believe having sex before marriage is a sin?
Please describe your personal experiences and thoughts about chastity and pre-marital sex.
How do you think having sex before marriage affects a relationship?
Men, however, seem to take the show more literally, and aren’t impressed by its message. Joseph, 31, says the girls of Sex and the City are “avaricious and superficial.” Tony, 36, says he couldn’t see himself in a relationship with a woman like any of the characters on the show, and Peter, 24, says real city dating is more complex—and a lot less funny. “Dating in the city is a realm in which people are very conscious that everybody has serious skeletons in their closets, rather than comical, archetypical castoffs we can all laugh about.”
While I’m sure girls are relieved to hear that (most of us can’t afford all those pairs of Manolo Blahniks and don’t embrace the thrill of a one-night-stand on a weekly basis), we strong, successful women watch “Sex and the City” because we relate to those honest talks over coffee, to the thrill of sharing a good gossip nugget with close friends.
A few years ago, I found my Sex and the City girls. There were four of us, and at various times we had each of the characters represented. We’d meet for coffee or breakfast once a week and we’d gossip – no holds barred. There were plenty of times we had to lean in and whisper, lest we scandalize our fellow morning coffee-goers. Too soon, we finished school and went our separate ways. Now we’re spread out in several countries across many time zones. And we still have our coffee-talks and gossip sessions—they’re just more often via email and phone.
As young Catholics, we have common beliefs, but each live our faith differently. We don’t make decisions about our lives based on characters from TV shows. We are affected by the opinions and behaviors of our friends. Choose good ones, and hold on to them. You never know when you might need to organize an Emergency Girls Drinks.
Thanks to Tony Rossi for the idea for this week’s column. If you have an idea for a column, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My next column will be about chastity, premarital sex and how to make the right personal choice. In the spirit of the frank and honest discussion Sex and the City promotes, share your thoughts with me and please take a moment to respond to the survey on the right side of the screen.