If you spend any time on the Internets, you’ve heard of Godwin’s Law, observed not only in comment threads, but, now in pretty much all political discourse, especially cable news: In any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope— someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis. Usually, Godwin’s Law is also interpreted as “The first person to drop a Nazi reference loses the argument.”
As women and frequent consumers of media, the Harpies want to offer up our own version of Godwin with a law regarding “Sex and the City” references—named Bradshaw’s Law thanks to a suggestion by Anna’s girlfriend Hanna. To wit: In any article about single women—regardless of topic or scope—someone invariably offers as proof, criticism, or an illustrative example something they saw in a SATC episode. And if you go there, you’ve lost the argument.
Recent examples from both the right- and left-wing: last month’s ridiculous column “The Unborn Paradox” by reliably misogynist conservative asshat Ross Douthat and this week’s bit of woman-on-woman hateration by the Village Voice‘s preposterously named Jen Doll* entitled “Dear Women of New York, It’s Not Them, It’s You.”
Here’s why Bradshaw’s Law is necessary: “Sex and the City” was not real life. It was not even a documentary—it was an urban fantasy on cable TV. Sure, it had moments of identification for some single women. But it was never meant to represent all American women—or even New York women—as a whole (its characters are too uniformly white, rich, straight, and elitist, for starters). If you are trying to make your point by referring to SATC—a show which, by the way, ran its last episode nearly ten years ago—you’re just flashing your own ignorance. Resorting to “It’s like that time in ‘Sex and the City!’ QED!” when writing about how women live/think/date only proves how few realistic representations of women’s experience there are in modern media…or how very narrow your own perspective is. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be making such an outdated, tired, stereotypical reference.
So when you feel the urge make your argument by playing the SATC card, please step back, consider Bradshaw’s Law, and find better, more relevant, more topical evidence for the point you want to make about women and our experiences. Or just STFU. Thanks.
* There was much discussion at Harpyness about whether Jen Doll is in fact the name of a real person or the pen name of some Nice Guy (TM) with an axe to grind or if the whole article was actually just an elaborate piece of satire.