In the newest episode of her podcast, Archetypes, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, treated listeners to a frank (and fascinating) conversation with Candace Bushnell, writer the ‘Sex and the City’ newspaper column in the 90s, which inspired the hit series of the same name. However, as Candace openly shares on the podcast, she never wrote any scripts for the show. “The message I got a lot was ‘you can’t do this, you can’t have access to this area’,” she explained, adding that thankfully that when it comes to seeing more women writing for TV, things are (slowly) changing. “The reality is most parts for women are written by men.”
Before the conversation got fully underway, Meghan credited Candace’s writing for pushing the envelope and said it still “holds true today” when it comes to dating, women and self-discovery.
“Having to have all of these feminine attributes, thoughts and feelings… we live in a world where it’s not just that we tell women how they should look [but] how they should feel,” said Candace, explaining she has always wanted to define herself on her own terms. “The message [growing up] was that girls are made of ‘sugar and spice’… that you’re supposed to have nice thoughts, you’re supposed to want to have babies… And I felt none of those things.”
The writer credited her father for raising her as a feminist and for encouraging her to aim beyond the four jobs typically available to women in the sixties and seventies (“nurse, teacher, librarian or secretary”), which is how Candace came to consider a career as an author, which then took her down the path of journalism. A path that Candace explained led her to writing about her own life experiences, along with those of her friends in her SATC column.
When talking about the four central characters of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, Candace acknowledged there are limitations that come with them but that as a starting point - and compared to the representation of women who’d come before them on TV - the show did a pretty good job of redefining female wants and needs.
Women are often told to “only have sex with one person” added Candace, before questioning what women’s sexuality looks like if money and power didn’t play into the equation. “It looks a lot like Samantha Jones! [When I was] single in New York in the 90s and having a lot of women friends who were single, not dependent on a man, there was a lot of sex going on,” she remarked. “A lot of enjoyment of sex and pretty much any of the cliches about women’s sexuality, I found were not true.”
Meghan then questioned what Candace feels can be done to keep the needle moving forward in terms of depictions of female characters who are role models (and women’s sexuality). To this, Candace said social media plays a part in offering more 3D examples, as it’s one place where there’s no gatekeeper for women to push beyond in order to be expressive, share their story or make money.
The writer also confessed she did “not make a tonne of money from Sex and the City” which has left her feeling “angry”, and that the next hurdle she wants to overcome is ageism (and women being discounted due to their age). “That’s where I am right now, exploring the time of life.”
We’re so here for these important and honest conversations.
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