Bushnell speaks on sex, city and shoesMarch 1, 2005
Candace Bushnell, author of “Sex and the City,” the book that inspired the HBO hit series, spoke at Kresge auditorium last night about her life, the show and, of course, sex.
“The big question in ‘Sex and the City’ is why are there so many great single women and no great guys to go out with them and marry them,” Bushnell joked. “That question remains unanswered.”
Bushnell addressed how the social changes in gender roles in the 1980s and 90s inspired her to write about romantic relationships.
“Before the 80s, women went to college to get their M.R.S. and all of a sudden they began to get real diplomas and real careers,” she said. “This led to a lot of changes in their relationships toward men and we ended up with a whole generation of really, really confused young people.”
Bushnell began writing for women’s magazines and explored the issues plaguing women.
“The big question for women when I was in my twenties was, ‘Can you sleep with a guy on the first date?’ “ she said. “Back then we didn’t just have ‘hook-ups’ like you have now, so this was an important issue.”
During her talk, Bushnell also explored the idea of female friendships that, according to her, emerged with women’s newfound independence.
“All of a sudden there was a huge population of women in their 20s and 30s who were single,” Bushnell said. “Married women usually don’t like discussing their sex lives because they either feel a certain loyalty to their husbands or they don’t want to admit that they didn’t marry a stud. But for single women, these bonds of loyalty aren’t there, so single women would get together and talk about their disastrous dating experiences.”
Bushnell said that she based her New York Observer column, “Sex and the City,” on her relationships with her girlfriends. The characters in the column and on the show are based on Bushnell and her friends in real life.
“To tell you the truth, most of my girlfriends were like the character Samantha,” she said. “They had sex with whomever, whenever they wanted and they made no apologies.”
In an interview with The Daily following the speech, Bushnell said that Carrie Bradshaw's character, the lead of both the novel and the television series, was based entirely on her own life.
“Carrie is my alter-ego,” she said. “I even wrote the first few columns in first person, but then I realized that my parents may read them so I decided to come up with a different name.”
In a question-and-answer session after the speech, one of the audience members asked Bushnell if she considered herself a feminist and, if so, what she meant by the word feminist.
“I consider myself a feminist in the sense that a feminist is anybody who thinks that all men should die,” she joked. “In fact, I’ve always wanted to write a book called ‘World Without Men’ so it would be all women, and we’d let just a few cute guys live. But really, feminism is about people, both men and women, being allowed to be what they want to be and not be constrained by sex roles.”
Senior Josh Meltzer, director of the ASSU Speakers Bureau, said that it was her joking and entertaining style that led his group to invite Bushnell to campus.
“Lately we’ve had a lot of very serious speakers so we wanted to bring a speaker that reflected entertainment, that was lighter and more fun,” he said. “We want to appeal to all sides of people’s interests.”
Matt Sorlien, a fifth-year senior, attended the show, but said he was not sure if he appreciated the lighthearted nature of the speech.
“It was very fun and not as intense as most other ASSU Speakers Bureau events, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing,” he said. “There was no educational value to this speech, but the pure entertainment value may be enough.”
Sophomore Rebecca Sorenson, who also attended the event, said "She's great, she’s just like Carrie on the show. I didn’t expect her to talk so much about her life, but hearing her story has really helped me put her books and the show into perspective. It’s good to see where she’s coming from.”
In a remark that was followed by loud applause, Bushnell said that the main point of her work is to show women that they can go out with their friends and have a good time.
“I want to teach single women everywhere how to party,” she said.
Bushnell ended the speech by scolding the audience for not asking about her shoes and pointed out that she was wearing not a Manolo Blahnik but a Marc Jacobs shoe with “the new rounded toe that we’re all supposed to wear this spring.”
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