Episode six. And everyone is envious of Carrie’s life. She has an amazing column where she can write about her life and friends. She’s found that next step to stardom, with her face on a bus, and she has a date with a debonaire, wealthy and successful Manhattan man.
And, most importantly, she has friends that adore her. It’s what every woman wants, and the envy for Carrie’s life truly begins.
But the very public, the very uninhibited city is hiding something. There’s a shameful underbelly, where people are stealing away for one-night trysts and secret romances. There is secret sex, and it’s everywhere.
“Let’s just say it, it’s the naked dress I mean you’re obviously going to have sex with him tonight. “
The Naked Dress
The shoe-string, nude coloured slip dress is everything. We can’t deny how full-circle fashion has come. You can find a version of this dress on almost every fast fashion website available now.
The way Charlotte describes it as the ‘naked dress’ is a pertinent reflection of fashion standards. As much as Carrie gives the allusion of nakedness, fashion now is far more risque. More flesh is on show, to show more of your body is acceptable. Yet today, there is a lesser expectation on what this fashion means. It doesn’t mean a woman wants sex.
In 2021, it wouldn’t be appropriate to say Carrie wants sex based on her fashion choices. Between friends, it could be acceptable, but generally, saying Carrie is ‘asking for it’ is taboo.
We can’t say this by modern standards. A woman has a right to wear what she wants, and it isn’t permissible to suggest she has a sexual agenda.
“Wait a second, if you’re serious about this guy, you can’t sleep with him on the first date.”
The Dating Rules
Charlotte and her dating rules, a character trait she holds right to the end. She is the queen of rules and following the rules. She’s also known for testing them, and ensuring her friends know and understand them. But how do the rules hold up? Do we still have dating rules? I find myself asking.
Now that I’m married, I don’t hear so much about the rules as much as I once did. But it was only a few years ago the women in my life spouted the idea of rules. What you should and shouldn’t do. I remember one of my friends chastising me for moving in with my boyfriends after a month. I was breaking the rule in the ‘moving too fast’ department.
I ended up marrying that boyfriend by the way. So rules don’t always apply.
How The Rules Came About: A Theory
“The women who wrote that book, they wrote it because they couldn’t get laid. So they constructed this whole bullshit theory to get women who can get laid feel bad.”
I enjoyed Samantha’s take on how the rules came about. Samantha’s view on life always promotes female sexual liberation. If you want to have sex, have sex. If you don’t, don’t inflict your issues on the people around you. Do you.
I can’t completely disagree with her theory. The rules of sleeping with a man weren’t invented by the men. It was the women who put these boundaries on each other.
And I have a theory that the men caught on. They heard all about the rules we put on each other, and made their assumptions based on the women who stick to these rules. And by those who break them. In reality, successful dating has nothing to do with society rules. It’s about the rules you create with the one you’re dating. A modern Sex and The City may focus more on this individuality. And we see this come into the second movie later on.
But I enjoy how aligned this idea is to the original book. The rules were something Candace Bushnell articulated concisely in the original novel.
Breaking The Rules
The moment her dating experience with Mr Big doesn’t feel right, Carrie thinks she’s broken a rule. She thinks that Big is hiding her, or trying, and isn’t as serious about her as she assumed. And she blames the dress and the behaviour that comes with wearing the dress.
Carrie creates a narrative for the situation with Big, based on speculation from the other people in her life. She catastrophises because of the rules. If the rules weren’t there, it’s conceivable she might take the relationship for what it is.
The rules, as we discover, don’t serve the characters in this episode. It only leads to an argument with Big that could lose him forever.
I know women in my life who’ve been through the same rollercoaster as Carrie, as recently as a few weeks ago. They’ve ‘moved too fast’, ‘broken the rules’, and thought their relationship was imploding as a result.
It would seem there will always be rules, as long as dating exists. The dating rules will eventually change, for the better is yet to be determined.
The Rules Of Shame
As much as there are the rules of dating, there seem to be the anti-rules. What you do when you’re not trying to date someone. When you’re keeping your great sex a secret. Shameful yet fulfilling sex.
It wasn’t until I first watched this episode, how many years ago, that I discovered this rule existed. But I too had experienced shameful sex, where I had dated a man I didn’t want to be in public with. In my situation, I didn’t realise I was doing this. I had less perception of my behaviour than Mike, Carrie’s friend.
In 2021, this type of dating could conceivably be easier to get away with. Lockdowns and movement restrictions mean you can better hide your secret relationships. And you’re less pressured to share it in public. And if you want to break up, you can blame this on pandemic woes rather than a personality conflict.
It’s as easy as don’t post to social media, for most people.
But I’m also wondering why you would want to go to dinner with someone you don’t like? That you don’t want to date? Doesn’t this just confuse everything?
How Well Has This Episode Aged?
Assumptions. The joy of assumptions in dating, and the way our nearest and dearest feed into them. The episode is ageless in a way that assumptions will always come into our lives, destroy what we know, and ruin what we hold dear. Assumptions will forever destroy relationships, both romantic and platonic.
Though some of the settings of this episode may change, and the fashion will not, assumptions will remain consistent.
So, are you enjoying secret sex?
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.