[Editor's Note: this review contains plot spoilers that are necessary in order to fully explain the controversy of the film.]

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By Govindini Murty. Sex and the City 2 has just opened and is already arousing a great deal of controversy.  Directed by Michael Patrick King and starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis, Sex and the City 2 is already being attacked by liberal critics for its supposedly racist, “troubling” and “offensive” depiction of Muslims.  Having just seen the film though, I can tell you that Sex and the City 2 is fun, frothy, entertainment that every woman will enjoy (just ignore some of the cruder aspects) – and is also the only big-budget Hollywood film in recent years that dares to critique the repressive treatment of women in the Middle East.  That anyone in the media would be offended by this film is completely ridiculous, given that that the film only portrays the truth – and to depict this truth is anything but racist.  Given how cowardly Hollywood’s male-oriented films and filmmakers have been in addressing radical Islam though, perhaps it’s appropriate that the brassy, forthright American women of “Sex and the City” should be the first to venture into this territory.

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Most of the film is not even about the Middle East or its religious issues, but is rather about the four “Sex and the City” gals and their relationships with their husbands, their children, their jobs, and each other.  The film opens with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda attending a gay wedding.  The scenes of the wedding have a bit of a TV sitcom quality.  There is one standout moment though, and that is when Liza Minelli pops out onto the stage in her trademark tights and short tunic dress and performs a terrific cover of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”  It’s great to see Liza back in top form singing and dancing, and let me tell you she has a lot of pizzazz left in her yet.

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The movie then lingers for a time in New York exploring the various dramas that the women are going through in their lives.  Carrie and her husband Mr. Big are having trouble adjusting to their two-year marriage: he spends all his time on the couch and just wants to watch the TV, while she wants to go out and have fun.  Charlotte has a happy marriage and family, but feels herself overwhelmed by the demands of her two small girls – and by worries that her husband is hitting on her buxom blonde nanny.  Miranda is also happily married with a son, but is stuck working at a law firm in which a sexist jerk is constantly trying to push her into the background.  Samantha is the only one who seems to have no such problems – she’s a proud 52 year old cougar, armed with vitamins and hormone creams and Suzanne Somers books, determined to ward off all signs of aging and still sleeping around with every handsome stud in sight.  Some will perhaps find this offputting, but to me Samantha’s outrageous, Dionysian vitality and refusal to cave-in to nature gives her a sort of bizarre heroism.

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All of this is pretty standard Sex and the City stuff, so I kept wondering when the controversy that the media is currently in hysterics over would begin.  This finally occurs when Samantha gets a call from an old flame of hers, handsome blonde actor Smith Jerrod.  Jerrod has made a film called “Heart of the Desert” and he wants Samantha to be his date at the premier.

This is the first intimation of how un-PC Sex and the City 2 is going to be, because the poster of Jerrod’s film “Heart of the Desert” depicts him shirtless, in army fatigue pants, standing against a backdrop of sand-dunes – and holding an Arab child in his arms.  Whoops – what was that?  A poster depicting a handsome actor as an American soldier protecting Arab children in the Middle East?  No wonder the critics are angry!  This isn’t supposed to happen in Hollywood films!  American soldiers in the Middle East can only be depicted as drooling morons or vicious killers who torture Muslims for pleasure (think In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, etc.).  How did this one get by?  Anyway, it’s just a quick shot of a poster, but it’s pretty unmistakable what it’s saying.  (As a side note, the movie premiere also features Tim Gunn, the style mentor from one of my favorite shows, “Project Runway”).

At the after-party, Samantha meets an Arab sheikh, played by Pakistani actor Art Malik.  (I have fond memories of growing up in the ’80s watching Malik play the tragic Hari Kumar in the excellent TV miniseries “The Jewel in the Crown.”) The sheikh is impressed by Samantha’s publicity work for Smith Jerrod and invites Samantha to come to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and see for herself “the new Middle East.”  Samantha excitedly accepts, and soon she and the rest of the “Sex and the City” gals are flying in super-luxury first class to Abu Dhabi.

When the women arrive in Abu Dhabi, they’re amazed by how luxurious and modern everything is.  Carrie even exclaims “We’ve arrived in the future.”  However, even in the airport we see that this is not going to be the usual PC take on the Middle-East.  Samantha gets her luggage scanned by a series of female security guards clad in black burqas.  When they detect Samantha’s vitamins and hormone creams, they declare them to be drugs and take them away over her outraged howls of protest.  We can already see that Abu Dhabi is not going to be the land of the free.  More black-burqa clad women in the background of the airport form an ominous visual counterpoint to the colorfully-garbed “Sex and the City” gals as they leave.

The gals are then whisked away, each in an expensive white town-car, to their lavish, seven star palace-hotel.  There, the gals are booked into the “Jewel Suite” of the hotel, a huge two-story mansion with an atrium, crystal chandeliers, multiple sitting and dining rooms, private terrace, you name it.  They’re introduced to the four handsome Middle Eastern/Indian men who will be their butlers, and are treated with every courtesy by the staff (which includes a hotel manager played by Omid Djalili, whose film The Infidel we reviewed recently on Libertas).  I kept wondering in the midst of all this – how can any of this be considered racist or culturally intolerant?

Other than the fact that Samantha’s pills and hormone creams are confiscated at the airport by women in black burqas, how can any of this portrayal of the Middle East as colorful, modern, luxurious, and hospitable be considered in the slightest degree objectionable?  And that’s how it goes for most of the gal’s stay in Abu Dhabi.  They get to go wherever they want, wear pretty much whatever they want, go shopping in the local souk (where the local stall-keepers are depicted as friendly and honest), party, sing, and drink up a storm at the local disco, have kind and courteous staff who take care of their every need, and get to ride camels and have a fancy picnic dressed in Dior and Louboutins in the middle of the desert.  Where’s the racism here?  All the Middle-Eastern and Indian characters in the film are treated with humanity and are not objectified in any way.  (Frankly, the only people objectified in the film are the hunks of the visiting Australian rugby team – but I don’t hear any Australians shrieking about that.)  The critique of local customs is extremely muted.  There’s one scene where Carrie and her friends sit on the hotel terrace eating, and see a nearby table with two Muslim women in burqas having lunch.  Carrie expresses some concern over how the woman can eat if she has a veil over her face.  When the woman lifts her veil for every bite of a french fry, Carrie says to the others “Wow, a lift for every fry, that’s a serious commitment to fried food.”  Then Carrie comments on how pretty the embroidered edge of the other Muslim’s woman’s black robe is, and the woman smiles at Carrie and indicates she likes her necklace.  What’s culturally insensitive about that?  There’s also a scene at the hotel swimming pool when Samantha points out two Muslim women floating by in “burqinis.”  Is this offensive – to point out two women wearing burqinis?

Anyway, things start to hop when Samantha meets a handsome Danish architect in the desert.  He invites her out for dinner, and she accepts.  When she starts flirting with him at an outdoor restaurant and suggestively handling a hookah pipe, a nearby Muslim man becomes outraged and reports her to the authorities.  Later that night, Samantha is arrested for kissing the architect on the beach.  Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte are horrified to discover this, and Samantha isn’t released until the next morning.  Then the women find out that due to Samantha’s arrest, the sheikh has cancelled their free tab at the hotel, and now they’re expected to cough up $22,000 a night to stay there.  The women frantically pack and decide to check out asap.  Samantha defiantly refuses to cover herself up for the return trip to the airport, and insists on putting on a tank top and short shorts instead.  As Samantha exclaims to the other gals as they leave the hotel, she can’t wait to get back to America where her “legs aren’t the devil.”

Unfortunately, the women realize that Carrie has left behind her passport at a stall in the souk, and now the women must return there on their own, without the fancy town-cars or the protection of the sheikh.  In the souk the women fall into the hands of some unscrupulous counterfeit watch merchants, and as they leave their shop, the men think Samantha has stolen one of their fake Hermes Birkin bags when really its her own real one.  A tug of war between Samantha and the men over her Hermes bag happens in the middle of the souk, the bag bursts out of their hands, the contents fall onto the ground – and are revealed to be … a bunch of condoms.  At this point the inappropriately-dressed Samantha has a large group of angry Muslim men surrounding her.  She picks up the condoms and defiantly waves them in the faces of the men.  The men get angrier and close in around her.  Samantha continues shouting and waving the condoms, saying that they’re for sex, and that there’s nothing wrong with that.  I suppose that this is the arch scene of cultural offense – but I have to say that there’s something oddly magnificent about watching an angry, defiant American woman stand up to a bunch of intolerant Middle-Eastern men.  This is simply the truth: American women stand to lose the most if radical Islamic fundamentalists get their way.  Why are we not allowed to depict this in American films?  Why are we not allowed to get outraged?

Finally, Carrie and the other gals grab Samantha and look for an escape out of the souk.  Several Muslim women in burqas who have been watching indicate to the gals to follow them into a flower shop.  They do, and Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda find themselves with a group of friendly Muslim women.  The women take off their veils and praise Samantha for standing up to the men.  One of the women chuckles “Our men won’t be able to get over it for months – maybe years!”  The Muslim women ask the American women where they are from.  They answer “New York.”  The Muslim women say how much they like New York, but when Carrie asks them if they’ve been there, they regretfully say no, and Carrie realizes that these women don’t have the same freedom to travel that she does.  Then the Muslim women and the American women have an important Sex and the City bonding experience: the Muslim women take off their plain, black burqas and reveal underneath … the latest French fashions.  ”Louis Vuitton?” Carrie asks one of the women, and she nods with a big smile “Yes.”  After the women admire each other’s high fashion outfits, the Muslim women help smuggle Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda out of the souk by dressing them in black burqas.

There is then a final moment in the souk that poignantly reveals the erasure of identity that occurs when women have to put on a burqa.  Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha lose sight of Charlotte, who has wandered off to buy some gifts for her kids.  The women look for her everywhere, but can’t find her because all the woman in the souk look the same in their muffling black robes.  Carrie remembers that Charlotte was wearing purple peep-toe platform pumps, and they run around the souk looking at all the women’s feet.  They finally find Charlotte and hurry her out of there.  Then when the gals try to get a taxi to leave the souk, they find that no taxis will stop for them because they’re women.  Finally Carrie has a moment of inspiration, and recalling an earlier scene when Mr. Big had shown her It Happened One Night on the TV, she pulls up her burqa in an imitation of Claudette Colbert and reveals her leg to the passing taxi drivers.  A taxi shrieks to a halt, the women get in – and they’re off to the airport, America, and freedom.  The women are reunited with their husbands and families in New York.  The film ends with Carrie stating in narration over a shot of Samantha and her architect hunk having sex on the beach, that in America, Samantha and the architect are able to “resume their date in the land of the free.”  Thus American freedom is reaffirmed, Sex and the City style.

I guess if you find freedom, democracy, and women’s rights objectionable you will find Sex and the City 2 objectionable too.  I suspect that many of the critics who disliked the film disliked it not because it pokes fun at Muslim men, but because it features such a defiant, unapologetic, yet amusing group of American women as the leads.  The Hollywood left’s misogyny towards women is a subject for another column.  As for the complaint that the film is culturally insensitive, all I can say is that Hollywood produces culturally offensive content all the time – going after everyone from Americans to Christians, Hindus, and Jews.  The only group that no-one is ever allowed to have any humor about is Muslims.  How refreshing that Sex and the City 2 breaks this ridiculous and un-democratic taboo.

And by the way, the line-up of shoes and fashions in Sex and the City 2 is fabulous as always … That may be another source of the liberal media’s ire: that Sex and the City 2, which is already doing huge business, may be the first female-led film to be #1 at the box-office for Memorial Day weekend, beating out Prince of Persia.  Imagine that, Jake Gyllenhaal and his video game film beaten out by Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolo Blahniks …

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17 Responses to “Review: Sex in the City 2 Satirizes Islam’s Treatment of Women”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mr. K, Libertas Film Mag. Libertas Film Mag said: New LFM Movie Review: "Sex in the City 2" Satirizes Islam’s Treatment of Women http://bit.ly/c3HpnF [...]

  2. Hamood says:

    Correction. Art Malik is NOT Indian. He is Pakistani, born in Bahawalpur. I wish people would take 2 minutes out of their time before writing articles to just google.

    • Govindini Murty says:

      Hi Hamood – thanks for your comment – we have changed Art Malik from Indian to Pakistani. And yes, we do our best effort to google/research everything we put up on this site. If you actually read some of our other posts, you will see that. However, I honestly though Art Malik was Indian because he was playing Indians in all the roles I have ever seen him in, and he has also been prominently involved in Indian charitable efforts such as the relief efforts for the victims of the Gujarati earthquake. And of course, some would argue that since Malik was born in West Punjab, which for many millennia was part of India before its artificial partition into the separate nations of India and Pakistan by the British, one could in a sense still consider him to be Indian. :) But that’s a debate for another day… In any case, Hamood, welcome to the site. We encourage all (thoughtful) viewpoints here.

  3. Hala says:

    It is very obvious that the writer of this review:
    1-Has never been to the Middle East
    2-Has no background about the Middle East apart from typical stereotype
    3-Does not personally know any Arab or Muslim individuals
    4-Has a flaming intolerance for Islam and Arabs

    Before making such statements as you did in your review, please take the time to do the research about the subjects you are discussing with such authority that your readers would believe you are an expert on the topic. Muslim and Arab women are strong, smart and well treated women, and Arab countries are not the repressed, oppressed states you make them out to be.
    Thank you

    • Govindini Murty says:

      Hello Hala,

      Thank you for your comment, though I’m afraid you are sadly misinformed about Libertas Film Magazine and about its writers. I find your statement that I have a “flaming intolerace for Islam and Arabs” to be rather amusing. First of all, I have been to the Middle East – to Dubai and Kuwait – and Jason, the co-editor of this site – has been to Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. Secondly, I lived as a teenager in Malaysia, a Muslim country, traveled extensively as well in Indonesia, another Muslim country, and grew up in India, a country with a sizable Muslim population. I am well acquainted with Muslims and have many (moderate) Muslims as my friends – and have attended their Muslim weddings, taken part in Muslim Ramadan festivities, and so forth.

      As for your statement that Muslim and Arab women are strong, smart, and well-treated – well I would agree with the first two parts of your statement, but not the third. Yes, many Muslim women I have met are strong and smart (that’s not something I question in my review of “Sex and the City 2,” which I stated is completely sympathetic to Muslim and Arab women and portrays them very favorably), but I would say it’s despite the repressive treatment of their societies, and not because of them.

      As for Muslim women being “well treated” – I would say they’re well treated in Western societies where they’re given the freedom to do whatever they want, but not in many of their own societies in the Middle East where, indeed, they are severely mistreated. Are the stonings and honor killings of women throughout the Middle East signs of their good treatment? Have you seen the film “The Stoning of Soraya M” – based on a true story – that depicts this? Is the fact that women singers in Iran are forbidden by the mullahs by even performing in public (discussed in our review of the Iranian film “Nobody Knows About Persian Cats”) a sign of their good treatment? Is the fact that women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive cars or even travel outside of the country without the permission of a male relative, a sign of their good treatment? Is women being executed by the Taliban for wearing lipstick or painting their nails a sign of good treatment? Is women being forced to wear burqas and have their individuality wiped out a sign of good treatment? In Malaysia I used to see the horrifying site of women from fundamentalist Muslim families being forced to not only wear a head to toe burqa in the sweltering 80-90 degree humid Malaysian heat, but to even have to wear black gloves and black socks to cover up every inch of skin. Many of these women would develop heatstroke and painful rashes from having to cover up in such an unnatural way. Is this a sign of their good treatment?

      There are moderate Islamic societies – such as that of Turkey – where women are treated somewhat better and have greater freedom to do what they want, but overall the record is pretty dismal.

      So Hala, I’m sorry you find it painful to have your society critiqued by the independent and freedom-loving women of the West, but you need to wake up to how your Islamic sisters and daughters are being treated in Middle Eastern and Islamic societies.

      • Hala says:

        For your information, I was born and raised in the most criticized country of them all, and plan to return there very soon. In what you may view as my limited circle of family, friends and acquaintances, the large majority of women (including myself) are physicians, or otherwise highly educated women. Stonings are not essentially legal, although you might hear of them happening, they are very much frowned upon. Honor killings as well, and perpetrators of these crimes are punished. With regards to covering up, there are definite lines between what religion tells us to do and what tradition dictates, and sadly in many Islamic societies these lines are blurred. Having said that, many, many Islamic societies including my own are loosening up, and while I cannot speak for what happens in Malaysia or Afghanistan I can assure you the in my city we have adapted to our religious beliefs and hardly have issues with heat strokes or other related problems. Another couple of things I would like to point out are that Muslim women, wherever they live, if they choose to follow their religion properly will wear headscarves and cover their arms and legs, and the other thing is…driving cars is not the privilege it is made out to be, as driving a car means being responsible for said car, for it’s cleanliness, gas, maintenance, not mention having to park it and walk the rest of the way…having tried driving, I am ready to give it up and have someone else worry about all that. As for freedom…to do what?Get an education?Done, work…done, go shopping, done…social occasions, done…where is the repression, exactly??
        Travelling…I don’t know if you have children; you did not list this point in your reply above, but to travel outside a certain North American country with your children you need written consent from their father stating his knowledge of the travel. Why is this, I wonder?It is for the children’s protection, correct?Well, it is the same for Saudi women and girls…
        Iran is a different society altogether and I prefer not to discuss is. And no, I haven’t seen “the Stoning of Soraya”, but my only comment is it is one story, and not necessarily representative of the whole.
        As for your comment below to Trajan, while it might an element of truth, portraying Arab/Muslim men as drunkards, gamblers and womanizers in movies, not to mention every Arabic speaking character in a movie turns out to be a terrorist, was never brought up as an issue as far as I noticed.
        Regardless, we will agree to disagree about our respective societies and cultures, and while I admit that mine is far from perfect, I do not necessarily see that you “free” and “liberated” society is either.
        Thanks,
        Hala

  4. "Feminazi" says:

    The interesting thing about sexism is that it is not only reserved for certain “backward” cultures. You have only to look no further than your own TV screen to see that women in our society aren’t as liberated and empowered as we fool ourselves into thinking we are. When you have a half-naked woman selling a quarter-pound burger, do you feel empowered? When most of the porn industry is made up of young women, but the ultimate profit lines the pockets of men, do you feel empowered? When one of the main characters of a movie–which sells itself on the premise that women of every age deserve to be empowered–uses every drug and ointment in the book to reverse any signs of aging, do you feel empowered?
    It’s so easy to pick on Middle Eastern culture, especially for those of us who gain our “insight” into their culture from the rarely-forgiving Hollywood depictions and the ever-skewed “news” outlets. The women over there are suffocating under their veils! The women over there are stoned to death if there was so much as a shadow of doubt against her virtue! The women over there are victims of dehumanization! Well, where is your righteous indignation when you see the women here are suffocating under the pressure of being perpetually young, skinny, and perky? Where is it when you see that women die due to drastic measures that they take in pursuit of those endeavors? Where is it when you see how dehumanized we are under media scrutiny and male domination? After all, we get to witness the oppression that occurs in our culture firsthand, whereas with their culture, we fall victim to being secondhand witnesses to biased reports. I’m not saying that their treatment of women is perfect or noble, but I do think that we need to settle the issues in our society before we make judgments about others’.

    • Govindini Murty says:

      Hello Feminazi – thank you for your comment. If you read more of the posts on Libertas Film Magazine, you will see that we frequently criticize Hollywood’s misogynistic portrayal of women and the fact that they so often play just the girlfriend or the wife, or some other such secondary role, and that so many talented actresses once they hit 40 are denied good roles, whereas every decrepit male actor well into his 70s is still playing romantic leads.

      I have also frequently critiqued the fact that so much of the film industry – for all its vaunted “liberalism” – is actually completely uninterested in giving women good roles or significant power positions. We’re all for celebrating women of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities here at Libertas Film Magazine. I would even agree with you in your critiques of the porn industry and how so many of Hollywood’s films objectify women. It’s interesting to me, as a conservative, that back in classic Hollywood’s Golden Age from the 1910s through the erly 1960s, women actually had larger roles and were paid better than the men, than they are in modern, “liberal,” “progressive” Hollywood today. In the prior version of our site Libertas, that’s a subject I used to post on a lot.

      However, Feminazi, your complaints about how Western culture dehumanizes women through media scrutiny and by the demands of the fashion and beauty industry that they look eternally young and attractive, are culturally myopic in their own way. Since the beginning of human history, and in all cultures around the world, women have been lauded, worshipped, and held up to the public gaze as being the embodiment of beauty and desire. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing – this is nature and the way of the world. I think it’s great to have women’s beauty and sexuality celebrated. My complaint is that in modern Hollywood, women are no longer even the primary subject of art! The industry has gotten so bizarrely male-oriented, so completely dominated by the desire to cater to fan-boys (a trend that I link to the film industry’s increasing leftism since the ’70s), that we rarely even get movies like “Sex and the City” that have a significant number of women as the leads or that portray them as successful, independent women. So let’s just enjoy the film, Feminazi, and hope that more like this get made.

      However, to claim that the entertainment/beauty/fashion industry’s demands that women be young, thin, and attractive is somehow equivalent to or worse than the repressive treatment of women in Middle-Eastern/Islamic societies is patently absurd. How is the existence of social pressure in the West to put on makeup or slather on beauty-creams or be thin (social pressure that is in large part generated by other women) somehow equivalent to the honor killings, stonings, arrests of women for performing in public, and other repressions of women in Islamist societies? See my response to Hala above for further details of my thoughts on this. We women of the West have absolutely every right to critique other societies where women do not have the same freedom we do. It’s part of the fundamental freedom we hold so dear.

      • "Feminazi" says:

        Of course honor killings are not equivalent to the pressure to stay thin on the brutality meter. I was not making that “patently absurd” insinuation. And your right to critique was never called into question; I am strong a proponent of freedom of speech, thank you very much.
        The hypocrisy, however, cannot be denied. You can criticize a culture for their oppressive attitude toward women all you want, but that does not mean I have to ignore the irony of it all. The fact of the matter is, “our” culture and “their” culture are both very much ingrained in patriarchal values. In patriarchies, women will always come second. Period.
        The “freedom we hold so dear” is unfortunately elusive even for us. Sexual assault and rape are still highly gendered problems that are very much prevalent in our society today. We are not just talking about pressure to look a certain way here; objectifying women in the media contributes to sex crimes every day.
        The biggest issue I have with your language is how placating it is: we are free, compared to those poor women there in that savage society yonder. How about being just as free and human as our male counterparts? How about turning women’s rights into human rights? I hope I live to see the day…
        Do explain to me how being revered for beauty and desirability is empowering? Or even natural?

  5. Hello “Feminazi” – there is no hypocrisy in stating that women in Western societies have significantly more freedom and equality than women in the Middle East or Islamic societies where they often cannot even freely hold jobs, get educations, drive cars, or travel without a male relative. To claim that our Western culture is equally oppressive as theirs or that “patriarchy” is as ingrained in our culture as theirs is to be completely out of touch with reality and the truth. Western societies do not condone honor killings! Western societies do not prosecute women for being raped, and let their assaulters go free. Western societies do not cut off women’s noses or throw acid in their face if a women goes to a beauty salon or dares to work outside of the home – as has happened in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and numerous other countries in the region. There is an element of patriarchy and of objectification of women in Western society, but it is significantly less than in any other society in the world. You claim everything is equivalent – that if there is any patriarchy at all in Western society – say even 10% – that it’s morally equivalent to the 100% patriarchy in the Middle East.

    And to claim that “objectifying women in the media” – I guess here you’re talking about women being featured in entertainment/fashion/beauty magazines – somehow contributes to sex crimes, is absolutely crazy. Every single society in the world celebrates women’s beauty, and has since the beginning of history! So all art or media that features women as attractive leads to sex crimes? Thus we’re supposed to deny all attractiveness in women, ban all fashion, beauty, makeup, etc., so that men (who in your view are exclusively brutish and cannot control themselves apparently) won’t be tempted to assault women? Sorry “Feminazi,” but you’re starting to sound like the Islamic radicals themselves here, who don’t allow women to wear makeup and make women cover themselves from head to toe because otherwise the men claim they’ll be sexually assaulted (and in their societies, ensure that this is literally the case in order to get women’s compliance). So your solution is to ban everything attractive or fashionable or beautiful that women enjoy and that makes women women? Give me a break.

    “Feminazi” – have your ever traveled outside of the West? I’m really curious. Have you ever been to Asia, Africa, or the Middle East? If you had been and if you honestly observed what goes on in those societies, you would see that women are way more in the background, way more second-class citizens, way more objectified and required to be meek and submissive, than in any Western society. It’s just the objective truth.

    And yes, it is empowering to revere things like beauty and desirablity. It’s what art is all about! I get the sense from you though that you’re not interested in art at all, but only in ideology. If all you care about is politics and ideology, then I guess aesthetic matters like beauty would really bother you. And beauty, desirability, the celebration of the splendor of the visual world are entirely natural because they are related both to the natural human desire to survive and propagate the human race and the natural desire to celebrate the wonders of the world around us. What’s unnatural is anti-art ideologues such as yourself who are so angered by anything beautiful in nature – such as the beauty of women – that you want to suppress it.

    “Feminazi” – I guess the “Mona Lisa,” the Capitoline Venus, Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” Rubens’ portrait of “The Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria,” Ingres’ “La Grande Odalisque,” Sargent’s “Portrait of Madame X,” and Lempicka’s “Self Portrait in a Bugatti” must all drive you really crazy. After all, they all celebrate women’s beauty! How oppressive! They must lead to sex crimes! And let’s not even mention films starring beautiful women like Greta Garbo’s “Wild Orchids,” Marlene Dietrich’s “Blonde Venus,” Vivien Leigh’s “Gone with the Wind,” Rita Hayworth’s “Gilda,” or Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra” – obviously all such films are equally culpable for sex crimes against women – at least according to your thinking – and must be censored too for the greater good.

    “Feminazi” – please describe to me some movies and works of art that you actually like before I believe that you care about art at all and are not just a political ideologue.

    • "Feminazi" says:

      You make ridiculous absolute statements. Typical reactionary. You are living in a fantasy land made up of rainbows an butterflies. Why don’t you get back to me when you have taken a women’s studies course or two. Then maybe your work would actually be taken seriously.

      • Hello “Feminazi” – calling me names does not take the place of dealing seriously with any of the ideas I’ve brought up. Is name calling and refusing to debate issues what they teach you in Women’s Studies courses? What a shame. You haven’t even responded to my question of what artworks and films you actually like – thus proving my point that you are most likely just a political ideologue.

        Why don’t you put down your Luce Irigaray or your Julia Kristeva or whatever dour feminist tract you’re reading, and go out and enjoy the sunshine and the real world? You’ll find the real world does indeed have rainbows and butterflies – if you are willing to let them in.

  6. trajan says:

    My objection to “Samantha’s” behavior in the Middle East is not political…it’s artistic. Samantha is written as a 50-something, intelligent, successful businesswoman (in PR, no less). Given this, it’s simply not believable that Samantha would behave on a business junket as she does in this movie. Yes, Samantha is outrageous, sexy, unfazed by other’s opinions, but the series writers have never before had her carry on like a demented teenager. Even when she was going through cancer treatment, she did so with aplomb. The character’s storyline was frankly embarrassing for me to watch, although the actress struggled valiantly to make the best of it.

    There are so many ways the writers could have preserved Samantha’s believability while showcasing her irreverence and outrage…for example, she could have fallen hard for a local with strict ideas about women. THAT might have been a great set-up for conflict of cultures, personal conflict, etc. that would have given the character a bit more depth while keeping the audience intrigued. All in all, the writer(s) took the easy way out, and failed, IMHO.

    (Full disclosure: I’m a New Yorker who lived for 2 years in Morocco, loves SATC, and know exactly what menopause is. I hope to see “my girlfriends” back in believable form sometime in the future!)

    • Thanks for your thoughtful response, Trajan. You bring up a valid point. Yes, that would have been a great set-up to have Samantha fall for a local religiously-strict Islamic man – in fact I sort of thought that’s where the movie was headed while I was watching it. It would have allowed the clash of cultures to play out on a more poignant, personal level.

      However, the writers/producers may have felt that would offend Muslim men too much if one was shown being involved with a sexually-aggressive Western woman, and that’s why they actually took the somewhat safer route of just having her romance other Western men in the film. From what I’ve seen in my travels, Islamic men are already suspicious of Western women coming on to them and “corrupting” them, and so the producers of the film may not have wanted to go there.

      Anyway, it must have been fascinating to live in Morocco for two years. I look forward to traveling there myself some day. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Melissa says:

    I went to see the movie with a friend of mine that loves the series (so I don’t know too much about it). Overall I thought it was good. I liked all of the woman-oriented problems: that Charlotte was exhausted by her children, Carrie was trying to understand what marriage was, Miranda couldn’t get ahead at her job, and Samantha was trying to express sexual freedom.
    I’ll admit that the movie actally taught me a few things. I had no idea that “burqinis” were real! I thought it was a joke, but apparently it isn’t.
    While I also found Samantha’s behavior unrealistic in that situation, I didn’t find it offensive – just provoking.

    The only part that I found somewhat offensive, is a scene that no one seems to be discussing. When the foursome are pulled into the flower shop by the group of muslim women, who are revealed to be wildly interested in New York and it’s fashion! I had two problems with this:
    - I thought it was totally conceded of the writers to think that New York is so wonderful that everyone wants to be like them.
    - And I thought it kind of made light of muslim women’s oppression. ‘Yeah, they have to wear burqas, but they can have anything on underneath them!’ Nevermind that with the censorship in the middle east they may have never even seen New York fashion, or have the money to buy it (I don’t believe women have access to their husbands’ money to buy clothes that cost thousands of dollars), or that they would want to wear so many layers in that extreme heat.

    It just seemed ridiculous to me. I understand that the writers were trying to show that a new generation is frustrated with the tradition are are trying to change things, but they could’ve done it in a better way.

    • Melissa – thanks for your comment. What few people realize is that Middle-Eastern women, especially those who are more affluent, do indeed buy a great deal of Western fashion and wear it under their burqas. Now I grant you that it was somewhat unrealistic that a group of women who would be passing through the marketplace would have such expensive clothing on underneath, but it is a well-established fact that the best customers of the New York, Paris, and Milan high fashion houses are indeed Muslim women from the Middle East.

      Muslim women wear these fancy Western clothes for each other in private parties, since they can’t openly wear them on the street. It’s an interesting subject that I may write a blog post about, since I don’t think many American women are aware of this. I think the filmmakers of “Sex and the City 2″ were trying to allude to this in the film.

  8. Govindini Murty says:

    Hala – does this mean you’re from Saudi Arabia? It’s quite incorrect to state that Saudi women being unable to travel without the permission of a male relative is somehow equivalent to American women not being allowed to take their children outside of the country without the children’s father’s permission. American women are free to travel in any way they want, and at any time they want. An American man would not be able to take his children without the written permission of the children’s mother either – and that is because there are minors involved (the children) who cannot be taken out of the country without both parent’s permission. I believe that this is the law in most Western countries. This has nothing to do with American women’s freedom to travel. Any American woman can travel on her own at any time and in any way she wants. As for the rest of the points you make, it is interesting to hear your perspective, though I would disagree with many of them. How can you say it’s not a good thing to be able to drive your own car? However, if your culture makes you genuinely happy, and you are willing to return to that way of life, then I wish you well. I hope you will have the freedom to return to America again in the future.

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