In a world that condemns the so-called “slut,” Samantha Jones from Sex and the City is a breath of fresh air.
Not only is she beautiful and successful, she doesn’t take flack from anyone — especially not about her sex life. On the show, Samantha is notorious for her free-sex lifestyle, which she freely and candidly talks about with her friends. The other girls are constantly entertained with Samantha’s experiences, from hook-ups in earlier seasons to potentially serious relationships in later ones.
“And I will not be judged by you or society. I will wear whatever, and blow whomever I want, as long as I can breathe and kneel.” — Samantha Jones, Cover Girl
What’s shocking is that the girls treat both occasions with more or less the same reaction. While they are surprised by her few attempts at monogamy, they consistently support her and do not attempt to shame her. Samantha never feels as though she can’t tell her friends about her sexual experiences, and why should she? Samantha is a confident, self-assured woman who knows what she wants — to have fun. To her, that means having sex.
Much of the criticism directed towards Samantha Jones’ character is focused on her sex life.
When reviewing Sex and the City 2, Roger Ebert called Samantha “a sexaholic slut,” and according to the definition of narcism by Dr. Sam Vaknin, she may be suffering from a psychological disorder. Her constant flings may be seen as fulfilling part of a trope or an overly-exaggerated caricature, though this is a common occurrence in all stories, no matter the medium. All characters, even the best, fall into various tropes. Regardless, Samantha Jones is still an important figure in relatively recent pop culture.
Society constantly bombards women with this idea that if they have a lot of sex, they have no dignity. I’ve personally heard people say, “If she had any respect for herself, she wouldn’t be doing such-and-such.” However, there isn’t a similar standard for men; while exceptions exist, men are typically excused or even venerated where women are more likely to be criticized for having the same number of sex partners.
This is a ridiculous double standard and not in line with what “respecting one’s self” actually means.
Respect is defined as due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. The idea that a woman doesn’t have any dignity if she sleeps around is fallacious. If a woman respects herself, she shows regard for herself as a whole — not her virginity, or lack thereof.
There’s a long-standing idea that if a woman is no longer a virgin, she’s no longer “pure,” and therefore, no longer as desirable. This prompts both men and women to police a woman’s virginity to the point where any woman who steps outside of this traditional ideal is immediately stigmatized.
Samantha crashes through this subtle but ubiquitous slut-shaming by being open and unabashed about her sex life, recognizing that she has the autonomy to choose what she does with her body and her life.
If she wants to be in a monogamous, long-term relationship, she can be. If she just wants sex, that’s fine too. It doesn’t matter what people say about her because ultimately, it is her choice.
“If I worried about what every bitch in New York was saying about me, I would never leave the house.” — Samantha Jones, Critical Condition
Samantha is respecting herself because she’s acknowledging her ability to choose to do what she wants, regardless of what society says.
For that sort of character to be present on a show like Sex and the City is an amazing thing. On the show, none of the main characters care much about Samantha’s sex life; they accept that it’s her authority to do as she pleases. Sex and the City ran for six years, an amazing length of time where a sex-positive, relatively un-demonized woman was a main character.
Although there’s definitely valid criticism od Sex and the City for assorted reasons, they at least got one thing right, and her name is Samantha Jones.