Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 45–57 | Cite as

“Can Women Have Sex Like a Man?”: Sexual Scripts in Sex and the City

  • Gail MarkleEmail author
Original Paper


The television series Sex and the City became an instant international hit from its 1998 debut on HBO throughout its final episode in 2004 and still remains popular through syndication and DVD sales and rentals. The series garnered widespread attention due to its explicit depiction and candid discussion of female sexuality. Sex and the City challenges commonly held cultural beliefs about what constitutes appropriate sexual desires and behaviors for women. According to sexual script theory, sexuality is not innate, but is learned through cultural messages. I performed a content analysis on the sexual scripts embedded in the series to determine if the sexual encounters of the characters were more likely to be relational or recreational. I also compared the characters’ sexual behavior to that of respondents of an extensive survey of sexual practices in the US. The encounters of the characters were much more likely to be recreational than relational, and their sexual scripts differ significantly from behavior that women actually report practicing. Yet for all the promotion of equal opportunity sexual freedom, by series end, all four characters were engaged in committed relationships—“happily ever after” endings for all!


Sex and the City Sexual scripts Female sexuality Postfeminism Media studies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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