On my 5th birthday, my aunty and uncle gave me a Batman costume. I was ecstatic. Never one to don a frilly dress or anything pink, I stood out as a little girl. I played soccer, wore baseball hats everywhere and was never interested in shopping, to the slight dissatisfaction of my mum. This is not to say that she was by any means disappointed in the choices I made – in fact, it’s probably clear at this point that I was encouraged by my family to embrace my interests (hence the batman gift).
Our tutorial discussion this week featured a few comments about the television series, Sex & the City (women’s rights etc. etc.). What intrigued me about this discussion is that many of my peers mentioned the characters that these women played and how they had a role in empowering women. However, as a fan of the show I know that the most empowering stories stem from the actresses real lives.
‘Miranda Hobbes’, for example, played by Cynthia Nixon, “is a career-minded lawyer with cynical views on relationships and men”. In 2004, Nixon’s real life character began dating a woman, Christine Marioni (Daily News, 2010). This came a year after Nixon ended her 15-year marriage (to a man). She describes the resulting flurry of tabloids as “an enormous temperature spike, where I was on the front page of two daily papers, there was paparazzi outside my house…they almost put me on the cover of People magazine. And then it died. Because there wasn’t really anything to say.” (New York Magazine, 2006). It’s interesting to note that this woman had been a successful actress in six seasons of a hit TV show, and it was only when her personal life surprised and outraged the media, that she was considered for the cover of ‘People magazine’.
The panic surrounding Nixon’s personal life is reminiscent of the perceptions people had of me when I was younger. Eventually I grew out of army pants and over sized boys T-shirts, however I still have a slight aversion to the colour pink. The point I’m trying to make here is that there were people who worried about my sexuality or the type of person I would become and what role my parents lack of intervention was playing. The media and popular culture had conditioned those people to think that girls wore pink and boys wore blue… however, hopefully everyone reading this knows that things aren’t so clear cut.
Nixon describes her transition to dating a woman, “I never felt like there was an unconscious part of me around that woke up or that came out of the closet; there wasn’t a struggle, there wasn’t an attempt to suppress. I met this woman, I fell in love with her, and I’m a public figure.” (New York Magazine, 2006). Cynthia’s actions were in opposition to what her on-screen character, Miranda would do – but for a woman who was part of a TV show with the foresight to embrace all sexuality’s (e.g. Stanford Blatch, Carrie’s gay best friend, who featured throughout the entire 6 seasons), the public reaction was quite embarrassing.
For me, all worry was unnecessary – fuss over a phase that was extremely short-lived. And for Cynthia, fuss over something that was just part of her everyday life. This week’s topic and class discussions made it clear to me that in removing moral panic and certain media outlets from a situation, things that were once confusing or hard to understand are made extremely simple.
– New York Magazine, 2006 ‘Educating Cynthia’ http://nymag.com/arts/theater/profiles/21647/
– Daily News, 2010 ‘Cynthia Nixon describes fiance as ‘a short man with boobs’ http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/cynthia-nixon-describes-fiancee-christine-marinoni-short-man-boobs-article-1.447585
– Wikipedia, 2014 ‘Cynthia Nixon’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Nixon