A strain of what can only be called Miranda Hobbes feminism has invaded the minds of women in New York and beyond, but what they don’t seem to realize is that this puts them in yet another one-dimensional box–the very same one that had so many choosing between being a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte or, yes, a Miranda.
With the recent and much talked about twentieth anniversary of Sex and the City (1998) that has caused a frenzy of nostalgia most especially and obviously in New York (preyed on for maximum effect by Cynthia Nixon herself), it dredges up the constant subject of late about how Miranda Hobbes–once a character even less desirable for being compared to than “a Charlotte”–is suddenly the only desirable character of the bunch. That’s right, even Samantha Jones is too non-pronged in her sluttery to be considered the “one to aspire to” upon moving to New York City in some vague and naive attempt to re-create the lifestyle presented on the show–obviously far more glamorous and ambitious than anything Lena Dunham ever conveyed on Girls (2012-2016).
In the current political climate of commodified feminism, Miranda is the ultimate “it girl” she never got to be when Carrie Bradshaw was theoretically stealing the scene (though we all know that was usually Samantha’s role, hence some of the reasoning behind the duo’s beef). Unlike the other three–all obsessed with male approval in their own varied ways–Miranda was the lone wolf willing to call these three out on their constant inability to employ the Bechdel test in their monotonous conversations geared around Big, blow jobs and bags (or the other significant Bs Carrie mentions in “Valley of the Twenty-Something Guys,” shallowly noting, “Twenty-something guys always know the really important B people: busboys, bouncers. Plus they have cute butts”). And, in all honesty, we kind of have to wonder what Miranda got out of spending so much time with a trifecta of women so blatantly vacuous. It doesn’t really speak well of her, to be quite frank–almost as though she preferred not to challenge herself with a group of friends as “evolved” and “intellectual” (‘cause we all know Carrie’s column certainly didn’t embody either of these two descriptors). In all likelihood, a part of her relished being the “superior” woman of the gaggle. The one who knew her vindication would come with the advent of 2013, when all the BuzzFeed articles really started rolling in and advocating for her “ahead of her time-ness.” But is it really ever ahead of a woman’s time to prattle on about how men are shit?
Anaïs Nin, at the bare minimum, was already saying this in her writing long ago, with, to use just one of many indicative diary examples, “Man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in the woman’s womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy.” Well, so, too, is Miranda, allegedly fighting the patriarchy that actually turned out to be women all along, so content they were to feed into the male-dominated sham of basing every act on what a token “he” might think. Said sham is most cohesively represented by Sex and the City itself, written and created by two gay men (Darren Star and Michael Patrick King) seemingly for the sport of caricaturizing the already overly caricaturized concepts of the Madonna/whore, either/or personalities in women. Miranda, one supposes, was that in-between, the female who, as she so defiantly declared to her cleaning woman (ah, just one of many bourgeois aspects of the show), “drink(s) coffee and (has) sex and buy(s) pies and enjoy(s) battery operated devices.” Well yes, who doesn’t…now?
And it isn’t because Miranda blazed some sort of trail. It’s because only at this very moment has the gender binary been deemed too insufferable (at least in the limitations of its permutations) to further endure. In this regard, Samantha was always the one to be on board for breaking those types of barriers, famously boasting, “I’m a try-sexual. I’ll try anything [meaning anyone] once.” She was also the only person who ever seemed to engage in threesomes on the reg, so simultaneously progressive yet on-trend for the time.
What’s more, Samantha declared from the get-go, in the very first episode, “The right guy is an illusion. Start living your lives.” Unfortunately, it seems to have taken two decades for women to finally start listening–even if it is under the false notion that it’s Miranda’s wisdom and anti-gender binary antics that has at last sunken in. Among just some of the women who have heeded the gospel of SATC and capitalized on it, to boot, is Caroline Goldfarb, the mind behind the @officialseanpenn Instagram account (yet another account besides @everyoutfitonsatc that has only fortified devotion to Sex and the City), who has created a now illustrious collage of Miranda faces plastered on a notebook that is frequently sold out at $21.00 a pop.
That women are all at once starting to see a kindred spirit in Miranda mostly speaks to the way she treated all her boyfriends like needy chicks. She was the one who executed having sex like a man as Carrie wanted to from the inaugural episode. As her long-term boyfriend and eventual husband complained, “Jesus Miranda, it’s like you’re the guy sometimes.” And all she was being was a woman who didn’t feel the need to “apologize for [her] success.” Yet in constantly bringing up how she had to compensate for it in other ways, Miranda was, essentially, apologizing rather often.
In truth, Miranda is actually more of the image every woman is projecting onto her as a patron saint of “wokeness” in her literary incarnation–even in something as “frothy” as a The Carrie Diaries (2010) novel called Summer and the City (2011). A sequel to The Carrie Diaries and a prequel to Sex and the City, this part of the Carrie Bradshaw origin story introduces Miranda as a “feminist” attending New York University (which, yes, is an oxymoron). Her invective in this form comes across as far stronger than anything Nixon was ever capable of rendering to screen, with such lines as, “Why do they call it intercourse anyway? It makes it sound like it’s some kind of conversation. Which it isn’t. It’s penetration, pure and simple. There’s no give-and-take involved. It’s an act of war… The penis is saying, ‘Let me in,’ and the vagina is saying, ‘Get the hell away from me, creep.’” Literary Miranda was also quick to note the true meaning of feminism for its dictionary definition of “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men” by reminding young Carrie, “We hate guys who date more than one woman at a time. I’ve always believed that what’s unacceptable in one sex should, by definition, be unacceptable in the other.” Which is precisely why TV Miranda always found it acceptable to be a “bitch,” whether it was to “sweet-natured” Skipper or Tom “Big Boned”/“The Sloppy Eater.” No matter who she was “dating” at the moment, if they ever rubbed her the wrong way (physically or emotionally), she was out the door–or, more accurately, sending them out of hers, since she had the better apartment.
The Miranda of the book, however, remains the more iconoclastic of the two renderings–she is the one who makes declarations like, “Every time I see a baby, I swear, I want to throw up,” which, I guess we can also take in the form of Samantha calling Miranda’s baby an asshole. Which he was.
The thing is, TV Miranda had to be softened ultimately in order to appeal to the audience waiting to see her anticipated character arc, the one that led her down the path of not having an abortion when she planned to–for that would have been far too unpalatable to the average early 00s woman just living in Bush’s world and trying only to enjoy the “fabulous” aspects of the show, like downing cosmos as though they actually tasted like anything other than merde.
The Miranda of Summer and the City, on the other hand, possibly only comes across as having such an edge because she was in her twenties, when it’s always easier to be “edgy” because you have taut skin and you think you’re hot shit. As Miranda probably did when she waxed on to Carrie, “‘Why do magazines do this to women?’ Miranda complains now, glaring at Vogue. ‘It’s all about creating insecurity. Trying to make women feel like they’re not good enough. And when women don’t feel like they’re good enough, guess what?’ ‘What?’ I ask, picking up the grocery bag. ‘Men win. That’s how they keep us down,’ she concludes. ‘Except the problem with women’s magazines is that they’re written by women,’ I point out. ‘That only shows you how deep this thing goes. Men have made women co-conspirators in their own oppression. I mean, if you spend all your time worrying about leg hair, how can you possibly have time to take over the world?’” Nonetheless, Miranda has seemed to take over the world, and in Cynthia Nixon, possibly over the entire state of New York.
Apart from the notebooks, there are totes and t-shirts touting We Should All Be Mirandas. Perhaps what they really ought to say is: We Should All Be A Little Less Quick to Jump on the Bandwagon of What’s Chic in Feminism or We Should All Be Madonnas (that’s timeless). Yet it would appear that, for the foreseeable future, Miranda is going to serve as the emblem of shattering the patriarchy and the gender binary (despite the fact that she was a heteronormative woman who ultimately got married to the man who fathered her child and moved to fucking Brooklyn–that was actually truly how she blazed the trail).
She might have astutely observed, “I know how to please a man, you just give away most of your power.” But Miranda also knows how to please a trend-loving female who suddenly doesn’t feel “right” about formerly wanting to be a one-dimensional materialist à la Carrie, an obsessed with marriage conventionalist à la Charlotte or a “whore” who just wants more, more, more (again, how did Samantha not become the poster child for the feminism of now?).