“Is it that men have an innate aversion to monogamy, or is it more than that? I wondered, in a city like New York, with its infinite possibilities, has monogamy become too much to expect?”
Episode seven. And the ‘m’ word is on the cards. Not marriage, but monogamy. And even Samantha is considering it, albeit for a short time.
Monogamy is under debate. Is it possible to have monogamous now? In 1998, in Manhattan’s colourful metropolis, the characters aren’t so sure. But in 2021, when concerns of freedom and safety are at the forefront, do we still value monogamy?
‘The Monogamists’ is a masterful account of relationship expectations gone awry. Especially in a time when it was possible for relationships to implode under the strains of ‘normal’ life.
Yet this episode parallels modern-day issues more than we give it credit for.
Monogamy, and the issue of relationship expectations, remains at the heart of dating culture. Now that women have their voice in relationships more than ever, we aren’t silent about what we expect. And we are less resistant to leave a cheating man in our wake.
“Yeah, I know, I’ve become one of those women we hate.”
Female Empowerment Has Gone Awry
The unrelenting war of the ‘have’ and ‘have not’ rages on. On this occasion, it’s those in a relationship versus the singles. And whilst it looks like couples are the enemy, singles come out second best.
Carrie becomes wrapped up with dating Big, and the pleasure during the birth of their romance. It’s the blissful yet all-consuming honeymoon. She discharges her single behaviours, and the women take exception to her disappearance.
I’m fixated on “those women we hate.” It’s women versus women, a damaging concept to female empowerment. Yet the women they hate are these females who break the relationship rules. They vanish from the single scene and enjoy the couples life.
But what is that really? Is it really vanishing? Well, no, it’s not. It’s a woman who has found a man and wants to spend time with him. A woman who wants to give time to her relationship. A woman who hasn’t the same amount of time she once did.
Yet the episode views this behaviour as a trait women should loath. If you start dating a man and you don’t have the same time for your friends, you’re hatable.
This depiction of women doesn’t bode favourably to women’s empowerment. Instead, it heightens the idea that women change for the worse when they enter a relationship. That because of a man, women alter their behaviour.
And this stereotype is pitting two groups against each other. That is the happy dating woman versus her single friends. You’re a fortunate woman or a bitter, judgemental singleton. There isn’t a middle ground.
Unfortunately, the stereotype doesn’t stray far from reality. In my experience, women continue to hate on their contemporaries.
This is one of the most reliable moments of this series so far, for my life. My former group of girlfriends resented my happiness when I found the love of my life. They resented the time I took to give the relationship a chance to see where it went.
I didn’t choose my man over them. They created a divide by highlighting my new relationship as an issue. They created a narrative that I was making a choice.
Setting The Boundaries Of Love
Carrie discovers Mr Big on a date with another woman, and her expression says it all. She thought they were exclusive, and he didn’t.
There’s something about this moment that is timeless. Every person dreads the idea of seeing the person they’re dating with someone else. It’s this innate fear of crossing your boundaries. It’s this idea of cheating, but not.
For as long as there is the concept of monogamy, regardless of the genders or age in the relationships, this issue will forever exist. When do you set the boundaries? What boundaries do you set? What do you consider monogamy?
Can we also appreciate Carrie’s blue dress in this episode? The crimson colour is perfection on her porcelain skin, accented by her gold tendrils. But the cut suits her waif-like frame. A credit to the wardrobe department.
Setting The Boundaries of Monogamy: Professional
Samantha hunts real estate, with the same vigour as pursuing sex. But in true Samantha style, she isn’t monogamous to one agent.
Whilst caught sleeping with her good looking, vibrant agent, it isn’t her bold act that outrages her first agent. It’s the fact she isn’t faithful to her. She’s looking at other property with someone else.
And she may hand over her commission money to the enemy.
Wrestling with professional monogamy won’t disappear soon. We depend on job faithfulness to sustain us through our economic crisis. We depend on brand loyalty to keep the business doors open.
Every dollar is harder to come by. And as those dollars fall into the hands of our competition, we wish for unwavering monogamy.
Setting The Boundaries Of Sex
Last night after Michael took Charlotte to the Philharmonic, they went back to his place and began the classic dating ritual …the blowjob tug of war. — Carrie
Poor Charlotte. In this episode, I can empathise with her. A partner who only wants one thing, who seems to want it more because you want it less.
It’s more than a tug of war. It’s an all-out battle between who’s willing to get on their knees, and who isn’t. God forbid she has a beautiful personality, or intellect that rivals the greatest minds in the world. No, it’s all about oral sex. Who’s giving it and who isn’t.
Let’s not pretend this war doesn’t still exist. Maybe it isn’t always over blow jobs. Perhaps it about who does what in the relationship. Or willing to try to new things.
There is always this line between a couple. Every person has their idea of what is safe and acceptable for them, and often those ideas don’t meet. Does it spell the end of a relationship like it did for Charlotte? Not always. But deal breakers live on.
Setting The Boundaries of Jealousy
Miranda (on answering machine): Hi Skipper, it’s Miranda I just want to say it was great running into you today. You look great, did you do something different to your hair?
When Miranda and Carrie run into Skipper and his new girlfriend, Miranda finds her head on a swivel. Suddenly, the man she rejected a couple of episodes ago doesn’t seem so unappealing. In fact, he’s more desirable than ever.
I wanted to say this was a phenomenon only found in Hollywood accounts of romance. Yet, this cliched post break up feeling has happened to the best of us.
Even I have felt the jealousy sting as I watch my former lover find happiness with someone else. But something I couldn’t relate to was Miranda’s lack of jealousy.
When she reunites with Skipper, she says he can continue to see the other girl. That’s not what has happened in my experience, nor that of my friends. Once I realised what I want, or thought I wanted, I didn’t want anyone else to have it.
Despite the way I can’t empathise with this, I enjoyed their approach to jealousy. Miranda was refreshingly honest, and she didn’t follow the rules. She almost fell into the stereotype of the male role, of wanting sex and nothing else. Enjoying a relationship that didn’t have monogamy on the table.
And there was Skipper, acting as the female, objecting to it. It was an enjoyable role reversal.
How Will Has This Episode Aged?
I enjoyed how they challenge stereotypes of monogamy in this episode. Their attitude was unique for the times. It aligns more with current dating than when it first aired.
Our liberal approach to traditional topics has only broadened wider since this episode. We are less inhibited by conventional dating views, and we’re forever trying to redefine the rule book.
Will monogamy always reign supreme? We will have to find out.
I’m having a Carrie Bradshaw moment. I’m sitting at my desk, in heels and a sweatshirt, contemplating the latest encounter I had with one of my friends. I turn to my computer, scribble down my musings on relationship and life.
As the thoughts run through my head, I contemplate what Carrie would think. How would she have perceived life? How relevant is ‘Sex and The City’ in 2021?
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. I write about figuring about love and relationships through fictional-reality.