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Sex and the Apocalypse

We have just passed 200,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 and I’ve just binge-watched Sex and the City for the first time.

The entire series miserably fails the Bechdel-Wallace Test, which was part of the reason I refused to watch, back in the aughts, this particular television show despite its popularity. However, with hindsight, age, and a global pandemic, I found all that ridiculous fawning over men, sex, and relationships in a female world oddly diverting. And the unrealistic portrayal of relationships in a rom-com for the first time in my life didn’t make me want to stab myself in the eye with a pointy-toed Manolo Blahnik.

Perhaps it was because it was an incredibly WASPy, "The 1%" romp through New York, or a fun venue of product placement for the then haute couture, which captured my heart and delivered me to the wildly starry-eyed finale where Mr. Big and Carrie finally elope in the second movie. Ahh, those two rascally, commitment-phobic lovebirds! They are the poster children for dysfunctional relationships if ever there was one. And surprisingly, I was only mildly bemused by the tokenism of Jennifer Hudson, an incredibly talented woman, playing the “po’ black girl” upon whom Carrie bestows a Happy Meal Louise Vuitton purse in her last episode. Seriously, I wouldn’t even be seen carrying that thing to get my incontinent Yorkie to the vet!

I wasn’t deterred in my enjoyment of the HBO runaway hit by the Smith-Jerrod-stays-with-Samantha-only-because-she’s-a-sex-addict subtext I picked up. I found a wonderful doppelgänger in Carrie Bradshaw-struggling-writer and lived vicariously through her, not caring that her waist was nearly the size as one of my thighs. By the very last scene of the whole shebang, I even found myself wondering when I’d find my own Mr. Big- cue record scratch. Yes, I said that correctly. Even though during the aughts I was living my own version of SATC, but without all those fabulous clothes, I found myself at the end of it all magically feeling hopeful again: that love conquers all.

What was an old-school feminist to do? In college I had carved onto my heart the words of Gloria Steinem: A woman needs a husband like a fish needs a bicycle. And for better or worse, I lived by those words. But as I stated at the top, 200,000 Americans have perished at the inept ministrations of a corrupt federal government, our economy is in Depression-Era territory, race-relations haven’t been this horrific since before I was born, and simply imbibing anything newsy is a one-way ticket to Beermeville.

Then it hit me as I collected the DVD’s out of my player and slid them back in their clear, pink, case: I longed for the days when the worst tragedies faced by our country was equitable representation in media and the arts, equality of gender and sex, a fair and booming economy, and when in that storied country we could still strive for our piece of the American Dream.

Even with the subtle deletion from the SATC opening credits of the World Trade Center after 9/11 which seemed such an epic catastrophe to lose over 3,000 innocent lives, it pales in comparison to the apocalypse Americans are living through today. I realized that I longed for simpler days where things were known: racism looked like this, misogyny looked like that, and the mere mention or image of Donald Trump didn’t send my blood pressure through the roof. I found myself clinging to the failings of another era, nostalgic for the inane diatribes of political correctness of Miranda’s “are they Blacks or African-Americans?”

After I was done with the show I dropped back into our current reality. Breonna Taylor’s killers will (most likely) go free, white supremacists are the largest domestic terrorist group in the United States, yet another woman has come forward to accuse President Donald J. Trump of rape, his niece Mary L.Trump appears on yet another show describing the vicissitudes of his administration, the wildfires in California are so catastrophic that I can’t breathe (parallels to George Floyd are not lost on me), people in my community refuse to wear a mask because they want public officials to keep their laws off of their bodies and I can’t even….(insert face palm emoji here).

America has not fared well in the past 20 years and Sex and the City has made that abundantly clear to me. But if the current state of affairs has awakened one thing within us that had lain dormant for too long is that government and politicians can’t save us, religious organizations can’t save us, only us, We The People, can save us. And isn’t this what our founding Fathers (patriarchy stipulated) wanted for us? Didn’t Benjamin Franklin caution us on keeping our republic? So rather than longing for a simpler time simply because it was simple, we must look at these changes, these things that are happening as our work. Perhaps it had to get blown up in order to clear the way to #buildbackbetter. We must look at these things as that which we must take up with our votes, with our voices, and get up off our asses to fix. I hope that in the long arc of history the justice we seek, the reasons so many innocent lives have been taken, will find us in that More Perfect Union because there is no Planet B.