I disliked the first Sex and the City movie but now, with the arrival of SATC2, dislike has been replaced by rampant hatred. Commercial failure (I wish) isn't good enough for this film – it should really be banned. It should be shunned by right-thinking society. It should be forced underground like some awful ripper-slasher, woman-hating rape-fest – because it sets back the cause of equality just the same.
Failing that, there should be women with placards demonstrating outside every screening. The placards should say things like "Women don't just buy shoes – they make up 47 per cent of the British workforce!" or something more snappy, perhaps, like "Down with penile servitude!" (one of my favourites from the Seventies).
If you showed SATC2 to a Martian, he would probably think women were some kind of plague upon the earth who should be exterminated. He would think women were shallow, narcissistic, selfish, greedy, grasping, money-loving freeloaders. If he was a really intelligent Martian, he might also think that they were slaves to manicures, capitalism, fashion, consumerism and the patriarchy. He might think that a Gucci handbag was some kind of badge of honour. He might also think that whether they were wearing a burqa or a Dior dress, it really makes no difference – they're all horribly deluded victims.
In SATC2, you see, the four protagonists go – pointlessly – to Abu Dhabi. There they see women in burqas who aren't – horrors! – able to do quite as much shopping and fucking as our four friends from the US. Now, of course, I'm dead against the burqa (although if anything's going to change my mind, this film must have come closest) – and I do think that all women should be able to shop and fuck within reason. Nevertheless, it doesn't do to have the film's triumphant twist be that underneath those burqas, the Abu Dhabi women are wearing the same skimpy designer threads that we wear in the West. What's that supposed to mean? Don't worry about the burqa because, although you might think women in states like Abu Dhabi are slaves to men, underneath they're just slaves to fashion like the rest of us?
How exactly has "girl power" come to this? As I understand it, the original post-feminist argument went along the lines of: "OK, we can wear high heels and have brains". Surely we should be able to embrace femininity and enjoy a bit of frippery without being sidelined as total idiots! Why not reclaim cultural ideas of femininity and control them? Those ideas may have been imposed on us by the patriarchy, but look, we'll turn that around, we'll make them our own.
Sorry, but it's not going to happen. It starts off well enough (SATC, the TV show), but then monsters are spawned and we are gobbled up by our own creations. Didn't Sarah Jessica Parker ever understand her own show? She seems to be the one who has overseen the demise of a franchise that once provided at least some kind of a tonic for women. The TV show had a lot going for it with its unapologetic depiction of female sexuality alongside a thriving and supportive sisterhood. But SJP was always the one most obsessed with shoes.
Personally, I don't think the high heel is ever going to be anything other than a symbol of oppression. I think women need to face this. We can't have our cake and eat it. And the worst thing of all is that thousands of women will go to see SATC2 this weekend thinking that it somehow strikes a blow for women. This is entirely understandable given the film's genesis and given that it is, at least, a story about women who can travel the world and stride across a desert four abreast. Unfortunately, it's also entirely deplorable that all the women out there who think "feminist" means "man-hating" get given this film as a kind of ersatz hit of empowerment. This film is about as empowering as a pole dance.