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How "Sex and the City" May Be Affecting Your Health

Posted Oct 18 2008 8:14pm

I am the first person to say that I was a bit obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw and the gang on Sex and the City (SATC) and I certainly wasn't the only one. SATC became an over-night cultural phenomenon and triggered the biggest sexual revolution since the original Women's Movement. After watching just a few episodes, its easy to understand how a 30 minute show could have such a powerful effect. The women of SATC were in their 30's and 40's, they were single and loving it and they were having sex "like men" (aka - without feelings involved). The show encouraged women to do away with society's expectations and typical standards for women: you don't need a man to be happy, you don't have to be in love (or even in like!) to have great sex, and age is nothing but a number. The show's popularity soared as more and more women tried on SATC lifestyle.

But like everything else in life, nothing is all good or all bad. And for all the good SATC did for women around the world, there have also been consequences. We all know that oftentimes sex is about much more than simply an orgasm. It's a stress-reliever, a way to give and receive love, a way to be playful. What most people don't realize is that, especially for women, it's also a way to feel powerful. While we have made significant strides in the West in terms of the amount of power women have access to, we still have a long way to go. But sex/sexuality has always offered women a certain kind of power that is incredibly easy to access.

With women having more casual sex and feeling less judged and more entitled to do so, women may begin relying on sex as a source for their self-esteem and a way to feel powerful and in control. Here is how this becomes dangerous: a woman is struggling to move up at work in part due to the institutional sexism that is still inherent in most career systems. She comes home from work feeling defeated and weak, but decides to go out with her friends to cheer herself up. She meets someone at the bar and as they are talking and flirting, she realizes how good she feels. She feels sexy, desired, powerful and totally in control. Because of how good she feels while flirting with this person, she goes home with him/her and has sex. She continues to feel powerful and good until she doesn't hear from this person for several days. The longer she doesn't hear from him/her, the worse she feels. So she goes out again to cheer herself up and she discovers that she can get that feeling back by flirting with someone else...and so the cycle goes.

Does this happen to all women? Absolutely not. Is it possible for some women to have casual sex and not get emotionally invested or feel empty when they never hear from the person again? Of course! Is it something to be mindful of. YES. Take a personal inventory every now and then and be really honest with yourself: Is my sexuality the only thing that makes me feel powerful and good? Do I feel empty after having casual sex? Do I find that sometimes relationships, flirting and sex feel addictive? If my love life is not going the way I'd like it to, does it affect my work, friendships, mood? If you answered yes to any of these, don't worry...most young women have answered yes to at least one of these questions at some point in their lives. A few suggestions if you are struggling with this:

  1. Read "Women, Sex and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power" by Charlotte Kasl - an amazingly insightful, honest and refreshing book that replaces judgement with awareness and compassion. A must read for any woman, whether this is something you struggle with or not.
  2. Get involved with things that make you feel good about yourself. Tutor an underprivileged child, take a class you are really interested in, run a 5k, marathon or anything in between, do charity work. Imerman Angels is my favorite...check it out.
  3. Spend time with female friends. Read my last post "Why You Should Call a Girlfriend Right Now".

Sex and the City did many wonderful things for women: it changed how women view their sexuality and encouraged women to challenge how much they allow society's judgements and double standards to impact their happiness. But anything in excess can get complicated so try to stay balanced and live your life with eyes wide open. Sex and the City The Movie is premiering at the end of May, so in honor of the show, May is going to be SATC month. If you host a Martinis and Makeover party in the month of May (which, of course, will involve Cosmopolitans, the signature SATC cocktail), you and a friend will go see the movie on me. Contact me through my Facebook account or email me at if interested. Cheers!

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