Sex and the City & Mill?
With all my exams over until finals week, I planned to party this entire weekend. So, of course I was pretty angry when I got sick all of a sudden, and had to cancel all my plans to stay in bed the entire time. I decided to watch Sex and the City reruns on my laptop, and as soon as I finished Season 4 Episode 10, the only thing that ran through my mind was “Deja Vu! This is exactly what Mill was talking about!”
In the episode, Samantha wants a job from hotel tycoon Richard Wright, but he refuses to hire a woman, and his reasoning is that “women are too emotional”… and that the fact that she slept with the head architect of the company. She replies saying “If I was a guy, you would’ve shaken my hand, bought me a scotch, and given me a key to an office. Its amazing, a man with such innovative vision could be so short-sited.” The next day she got the job. Simultaneously, in the episode before, Charlotte decided to quit her job, and among her reasons, she mentions that it was her husband’s suggestion.
With his piece “The Subjection of Women,” John Stuart Mill can be considered one of the earliest feminists of his time. He talks about the role of women in marriage and how it should be changed. Women are expected to fit the role of “submission, and yielding to the control of others” and this “ideal of character is the very opposite to that of men.” (Mill 659) This is shown clearly in both examples in the episode. Samantha has the qualities and achievement necessary for the job, but because she is a woman, she is expected to be “overly emotional” and the fact that she slept with someone at the firm, her personal business, is assumed to impair her ability to work with men at the company. Thus, her boss decides to only hire her if she pairs with a “more stable” male partner. After she points out his act of discrimination and furiously leaves the office, the next day she gets the job, showing that her words impacted Wright and because of her outburst, she justly got the job she deserved.
Even in Charlotte’s case, her husband expects her to quit her job now that they are trying to have a baby, supporting Mill’s argument that men expect women to be submissive and listen to them all the time. While there is some logic to the argument of staying at home when raising a child, in the end, the choice to quit her job should be Charlotte’s decision alone, and her husband should not be pushing her in either direction.
This is how I believe the events in this particular Sex and the City episode reflects Mill’s argument regarding the role of woman in society.