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SATC – how it changed men and women

SATC - how it changed men and women
SATC - how it changed men and women
SATC – how it changed men and women

The following is a transcript of Siobhan McFadyen, News Correspondent for Grazia Magazine, interviewing Celebrity Life Coach and Human Behavior Expert, Patrick Wanis Ph.D. about Sex and the City  – the two movies (Sex and the City and Sex and the City 2 – SATC 2) and the TV Series – about its cultural significance and impact on women. How has Sex and the City affected, changed or shaped women and why? And does Sex and The City intimidate men?

You can also read the controversial press release by Patrick Wanis PhD: Sex and the City – how it emasculated men –

Siobhan: Sex and the City. Why do you think so many people or women have come to love the show? What is the attraction for women and why are they so fascinated by it over the years? What draws women to it and why is it so successful?

Patrick Wanis: I think Sex and the City is extremely successful for many, many reasons. First: because it represents women’s sexual freedom. Second: because it exposes in a very free and proud way not just women’s sexuality but the fact that women can be just as sexual as men; women can have just as big a sex drive as men and that it also freely exposes the different perspectives of sexuality that women have.

For example, you have the eldest character in the movie and the TV series (Samantha Jones played by Kim Cattral) who proudly says via her actions and sometimes her words, I’m about conquering men; I’m about using sex as power, and; I enjoy it. Then you have the character of Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) who seems so completely lost and is always looking for real love and looking for the ideal relationship. Then there is Charlotte York (played by Kristin Davis) who is prudish and is seeking emotional love and finally; Miranda Hobbes (played by Cynthia Nixon) who is the career-minded cynic of relationships (the voice of reason), who is a Type A, a workaholic and wants to win men over via her personality rather than her sexiness.

Thus, each character represents a different aspect of not just women but women’s sexuality and the significance of sex to them. Another key aspect of the movie and TV show’s appeal is that it also reflects the bonding, the friendship and what we call in psychology and mental health, the “befriending” that women have and engage in; women turn to each other when they’re under stress, when they have a problem, when they want to discuss something and when they need a sounding board. Almost ninety-nine percent of the time, women turn to other women before they’ll turn to a man.

Siobhan: That’s true. Why is that?

Patrick Wanis: Recent studies, within the past 8 to 10 years, conducted at UCLA revealed that women handle stress very differently to men. Up until the year 2000, all of the tests that had been done around stress were done mainly with men. So, researchers and scientists believed that everyone responded the same way to stress, namely the Fight or Flight Syndrome.

And in the face of physical danger, it is true that men and women respond the same way, but in the case of stress, women respond differently because they have greater behavioral-response-options. So when a woman undergoes stress, her body will also release Oxytocin. Oxytocin tends to actually lower the effect of the Fight or Flight Syndrome. And Oxytocin, which also is further heightened by Estrogen, then encourages women to tend and befriend. That means: to nurture and to turn to other women for nurturing and for sympathy, empathy & compassion.

The act of nurturing, the act of bonding and the act of befriending then releases more Oxytocin and thus the cycle continues and women turn to each other more and more. I’m probably giving you maybe too much information but what I’m really saying is that women respond to stress differently. They respond to problems differently. Men on the other hand …

Siobhan: How is that different from the way a man would respond in the same situation?

Patrick Wanis: Well, women are more in touch with what they feel. Men will describe, when under stress, that they simply are irritable; they’re angry and they can’t sleep. They don’t necessarily understand the deeper feelings. The other added factor and element for men here, is Testosterone. Testosterone adds to The Fight or Flight Syndrome so men will respond differently. Does that answer that question?

Siobhan: Yes, sure, sure. So what you’re also saying is that the show and movie has probably been helpful in the fact of analyzing the relationships in women?

Patrick Wanis: Yes, the women – the movies and the TV series highlight the significance of bonding to women and thus women are able to relate to these four women on the screen that bond with each other and share experiences and also divulge to each other some of their deepest darkest secrets and fantasies. So now, women who watch this movie and the TV series are also able to freely accept and admit and even confess to themselves their own fantasies, be they romantic fantasies, sexual fantasies or career fantasies.

There are two more final elements of Sex and the City which I believe explain the success of Sex and the City. One would be career. These women are very independent. They’re very powerful. They have their own money. They establish their own identity in ways other than simply being a housewife or being a sexual object to a man. So they represent and create a new model for the 21st century woman.

Siobhan: Sure.

Patrick Wanis: And then the final element that I believe contributes to the success of Sex and The City is the fashion. Many women have told me that they don’t necessarily relate to all of the characters in the movie but they love the fashion. One friend of mine, a married nutritional expert with children, told me “I want to see what they’re wearing and what shoes they’ve got and what dresses they have got and what bags they’ve got.” Thus, the movie plays up to every aspect of a woman: the mental, the emotional, the physical, the material, the sexual and even the fashion element and the fantasy element of fashion.

Siobhan: It covers everything. [laughs]

Patrick Wanis: Yes, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a deep or meaningful movie but I understand why women like it.

Siobhan: And do you think the men are intimidated by it at all? It has obviously helped shape some of the ways women see and view the world. When I was growing up, I lived in Scotland, I was only about 18 when it came on TV and now I live in New York and I think the show is one of the reasons I moved to New York. But I mean, I don’t really love the lifestyle they have but do you think it kind of shapes the way women have changed or maybe even helped women change over the last decade?

Patrick Wanis: Well, you asked two different questions and I just want to make sure I answer both questions. The first was, “How do men respond to it – are men are intimidated by it at all?” I don’t think men are necessarily intimidated by it. I think they’re more pissed off by it and frustrated and irritated because they’re feel or express frustration such as ‘oh, here we go again with these women. They’re going to sit around and talk about their sexuality. They’re going to talk about their conquests and they’re going to talk about fashion and drinking and clothes…’ so I think in that aspect, it probably frustrates and irritates men more than anything else because men are not interested in shopping all day or sitting around talking about things, particularly fashion, shoes and clothes.

Siobhan: Sure.

Patrick Wanis: Does it intimidate some men? Yes, I think it definitely intimidates some men because Kim Cattrall’s character Samantha Jones is really more masculine than feminine when she expresses via her actions and behavior, ‘wow, I’m going to use men for my pleasure. I’m going to view men as a sex object.’ And for men, that’s very intimidating because that’s what men do. That’s the male perspective and approach rather than the female. Samantha is the hyper sexually confident woman and while that attracts men to connect and enjoy the sex, it scares them off when it comes time to relationships because men want to be the dominant one and usually want the woman to be submissive in sex. Men need to feel that they are the hunter – not the hunted.

You then asked the second question, “How has it shaped or affected women?” I think it encourages women to be freer, to be more independent, to embrace their sexuality, to embrace their sense of my identity, value and self-worth as something greater than just a housewife: ‘I’m here and I have greater purpose than just serving a man. I can be a career woman. I can be a housewife. I can be a sexual woman. I can be a mother. I can be a girlfriend. I can be many things.’ So I think it probably allows women to explore more options and encourages them to go down non-traditional paths.

Siobhan: Sure, sure. That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for these wonderful insights and for doing it at obviously such short notice. Well, thank you very much.

Patrick Wanis: You’re welcome.

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