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‘Sex and the City’ Normalized Toxic Relationship Dynamics



Spoilers ahead for the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That. Like so many other young women with literary aspirations, I grew up watching the original Sex And The City, fantasizing about one day creating a life for myself analogous to Carrie Bradshaw’s glamorous Manhattan one. And just like her, I dated a man like Mr. Big who was a decade older than me, with slicked back hair to boot. Like Big, he was emotionally unavailable and would push me away every time we got “too close.” Their unhealthy relationship — and most of the others portrayed in Sex And The City, for that matter — led me to believe that the constant making up and breaking up cycle was just a standard part of being in love, and it took me a long time to learn that it wasn’t.

From the beginning of their romance, we see Bradshaw continually being emotionally abused by Big, and yet, she still hangs on to the relationship. When Big tells her that he’s going to relocate to Paris and she offers to move there with him, he just shrugs and says, “I don’t want you to uproot your life and expect anything.” He refuses to introduce Carrie to his mother, calling her his “friend,” when she confronts them together. In other words, Big consistently downplays the seriousness of their relationship to Carrie, creating a dynamic in which she’s always giving, and almost never receiving.

Their toxic, on-again off-again relationship had more downs than it had ups, conditioning a lot of women (namely, me) to believe that we need to accept a lot of bullsh*t in order to find epic love. But it wasn’t just Sex And The City positioning roller-coaster relationships like Carrie and Mr. Big’s as the pinnacle of romance.

Take also, for instance, Gossip Girl’s Chuck and Blair. Like Carrie, Blair represents a strong and independent character, but yet, we see her constantly crying over an emotionally unavailable Chuck and think, “Well, if Blair has to put up with it, so must we.” The entire first season is full of Blair trying get Chuck to admit that he loves her, but he wouldn’t. Neither would he let her go. She begs him at the bar one day to once and for all tell her if it was all a game to him and if it was, he needs to let her go and he admits that he was just playing around and she breaks down crying and leaves. That’s not the worst part though. Chuck traded Blair for a hotel and also slept with Jenny, Dan’s sister, when he assumed that Blair no longer loves him. His cruelty is never-ending.

“TV shows can portray a reality wherein a man is ambivalent about a woman, and the woman, through her perseverance, pushes a man through that ambivalence into commitment,” says licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist Jack Worthy, specializing in relationships and dating. “Seeing an idealized, fictionalized woman encountering the same issue and deploying a strategy of, ‘try harder’ — TV shows and movies didn’t create the phenomenon, rather, they took a phenomenon and made it worse,” he says.

While it’s difficult to measure precisely, a 2012 study suggests that around 80% of people — both men and women — have experienced emotional abuse. “Unhealthy relationships we see on screen are evidence that these types of relationships exist in life, and that they are more entertaining to watch than two members of a couple interacting in a healthy manner,” says Dr. Jessica January Behr, Psy.D. licensed psychologist.

So it’s not as though shows like Sex And The City and Gossip Girl are portraying unrealistic relationships, just contributing to a romanticization and glamorization of them. We watch successful women cry, continually get hurt, and yet still refuse to give up on these men — a dedication that eventually results in eternal bliss a few seasons later as the show ends. Both Chuck and Blair and Carrie and Big end up together in the shows, and we expect the same for our lives.

“The fairy-tale ending is exploited in storytelling because it satisfies a ubiquitous desire for women (and men) to be fully accepted and to achieve and receive ultimate love. TV and movie endings display our deepest wishes and do what they are written for, [which is to]make us feel good in the end,” says Dr. Behr. In life, we often stay in unhealthy relationships because we have hope that things will get better, that one day we’ll be fully happy and loved. We see ourselves in the characters and conflicts in these shows, but also in the resolutions, Dr. Behr points out. “It is possible that repeated depictions of highly conflictual relationships ending in happily ever-after seeps into our personal and collective unconscious,” she says.

“But perseverance aimed at the wrong goal is masochism. You cannot, through perseverance, make someone love you.”

Why didn’t I give up on my own troubled relationship despite clocking many of the same red flags and manipulation tactics that plagued Carrie and Mr. Big? Because all that drama was normalized through TV shows, and I was addicted to it. “The show’s writers chose a man’s ambivalence as the obstacle between a woman and the love relationship she wants. That makes for a never ending source of drama.”

“Not giving up,” or perseverance, is a virtue in the right context, he points out. You persevere to finish medical school, land a promotion, or complete a triathlon. “But perseverance aimed at the wrong goal is masochism. You cannot, through perseverance, make someone love you.” When you offer your whole heart over and over again, and what you receive in return is at best inconsistency, frequent indifference, and at worst cruelty, you cannot help but wonder, “What is insufficient in me that my love is not returned?” It’s this act that hacks away at one’s self-esteem, says Worthy.

In the second episode of the reboot, And Just Like That, while at the funeral of (major spoiler!) Mr. Big, a woman in attendance says aloud, “Am I the only one who remembers what a pr*ck he was to Carrie?” To her I say, we remember all too vividly.


Jack Worthy, psychotherapist specializing in dating and relationships

Dr. Jessica January Behr, Psy.D. and licensed psychologist


Personal Care

Cassidy Timbrooks on ‘The Bachelor’ Isn’t the Villain You Think She Is



I knew Cassidy Timbrooks was going to be eliminated from The Bachelor the second she addressed a table full of children as “you small people.”

But it wasn’t until Clayton Echard learned she had a “friend with benefits” back home that her number came up. The Bachelor rescinded the rose he had already given her and predictably sent the 26-year-old executive assistant packing on Monday night’s episode.

In the eyes of the show, she had committed two cardinal sins: Not acting overjoyed to be around kids, and not putting her sex life on pause for a man she had never met.

That’s why her ride home from the mansion was more than just another early villain exit. The Bachelor is clearly trying to get back to basics this year — and by basics I mean American sexual politics circa 2002. The fact that Cassidy got the boot so swiftly shows how quickly the show is returning to its traditional roots. In an era of dating apps and delayed motherhood, ABC’s long-running reality dating franchise is recommitting in Clayton’s season to its core tenets: Love, marriage, and family — preferably before age 30.

In the eyes of the show, she had committed two cardinal sins: Not acting overjoyed to be around kids, and not putting her sex life on pause for a man she had never met.

Only against that backdrop would a woman like Cassidy strike anyone as an outlier. Outside of the show, she doesn’t exactly seem nefarious. Since the premiere aired, I have been following her on Instagram, where she’s been posting incredibly lucid and self-aware reflections about her time on The Bachelor, conceding in one of her Stories that she struggled to balance “confidence” with “considering other people’s takes.”

Indeed, like so many hated contestants before her, Cassidy appears to have been the victim of a selective edit and a mocking soundtrack. The unflattering edit began in earnest when she largely ignored the children at a birthday party group date to talk with the Bachelor instead. At one point, seated around a table sipping tea, she told a group of kids, “I spend as little time around you small people as possible, so forgive me…” and then immediately went on the back foot as they latched onto the comment.

I don’t blame the kids for taking offense. But any adult viewer who paid attention to her tone should have recognized the droll delivery. Was it an inartful thing to say? Sure. Children aren’t the right audience for wry humor, especially if you’re joking about avoiding them. But Cassidy didn’t deserve to be demonized as a kid hater, either.

“I knew I was giving villain, but I thought I was far more amusing and harmless,” she wrote in one of her post-show Instagram Stories, “and I think a lot of the hate is based in misogyny internalized and otherwise.”

She’s not wrong. Cassidy was punished, both in the edit and by a segment of the audience, for not going googly-eyed at the notion of spending an afternoon building a dollhouse. She certainly didn’t echo the enthusiasm of a fellow contestant who saw the kids from afar and exclaimed, “Oh my God! I’m so excited! I love children!” while running toward them.

The Bachelor is retreating to an extremely white, hyper-hetero comfort zone in which babies are the ultimate goal.

To be fair, that attitude is more in line with Clayton’s. In the first five minutes of the current season, the new Bachelor was twice moved to tears by the thought of raising a family. He introduced himself in the opening voiceover by saying, “I can’t wait to get married and have kids,” and later choked up while reading a letter from a child predicting that he will “have lots of kids.”

Clayton is nothing if not sincere, but there’s probably a reason the producers picked someone like him in the first place — and why they’re emphasizing childrearing so much this early. After years of controversy over racism in the franchise, culminating in the departure of ex-host Chris Harrison — and after more recent flirtations with progressive casting including the first same-sex engagement, a (gasp!) 39-year-old Bachelorette, and several leads of colorThe Bachelor is retreating to an extremely white, hyper-hetero comfort zone in which babies are the ultimate goal.

I used to wonder whether the horror novel I wrote satirizing Bachelor-style shows would be outdated by the time it comes out later this year, but if anything, this season has felt ripped out of time in the worst way.

Cassidy’s storyline especially has highlighted double standards that should be long dead by now. Clayton himself recently addressed viral TikToks about his dating history by saying that he “enjoyed [his] singleness” for “the last six years of my life.” This is the same Bachelor who confronted Cassidy on Monday night’s episode about allegedly “seeing someone up until the point that you came here,” as though she were beholden to him before then. Hookups for me but not for thee?

Presented in the weird logic of the show, you’d almost forget that Cassidy is one of 30 women Clayton dated simultaneously — and that, in season previews, the Bachelor will later admit to being “intimate” with two contestants. Somehow that behavior is more “for the right reasons” than having casual sex with someone before filming even began?

Cassidy may be off the air now, but her brief run was telling. This throwback edition of The Bachelor needed a villain, and the producers chose a confident woman with a history of casual dating who said “F*ck a dollhouse” on camera. It’s probably a bad sign when someone that refreshing doesn’t make it to the second rose ceremony.


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Another Day, Another Musk Tweet Pumps Dogecoin up 9%



Musk, who is the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, said he would eat a Happy Meal on TV if Fast food giant McDonald’s starts accepting Dogecoin

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Everything You Need to Know About the UK Government’s COVID Inquiry



On May 12, 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an independent public inquiry into the government’s response to and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Established under the Inquiries Act 2005, the COVID Inquiry will examine the government’s “actions as rigorously and candidly as possible,” according to the Prime Minister, and will aim to “learn every lesson for the future.” It will do so by summoning the production of documents and witnesses to give evidence under oath in order to examine the government’s response to the pandemic.

Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE will act as Chair of the inquiry, which is set to begin “sometime in spring 2022”. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the COVID Inquiry and what we can expect from the process.

How Will The COVID Inquiry Work?

According to BBC News, the Chair of the Inquiry can call whoever they want to give evidence, “whether they are witnesses to an event or people with particular expertise.” As barristers’ chambers Doughty Street Chambers notes, witnesses to an event will be asked to give evidence of their experience or direct knowledge of what took place. They speak on behalf of an organisation, like the NHS or the police.

Evidence sessions will be given in public and under oath, per BBC News, and most sessions will be available to watch on TV and online. There’s no time limit to the inquiry either, and they can often take years due to the “huge amount of evidence that needs to be read.”

What Will Be Included In The COVID Inquiry?

The exact aims, issues, and remits included won’t be announced until closer to the start of the inquiry, but the Prime Minister has said his government would work closely with the devolved administrations and governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland before setting out what exactly will be included in the inquiry itself.

Shortly after announcing that an inquiry would take place, the Prime Minister told MPs that the inquiry would consider his government’s handling of the pandemic before the first lockdown in March 2020, per The Guardian. As for other issues, law firm BDB Pitmans suggests that the higher death rate in general, especially among ethnic minority groups, will be a major point of contention, as well as the government’s “procurement processes” of contracts awarded during the pandemic.

What Issues Have Been Raised Around The COVID Inquiry?

Undocumented Migrants

Following the publication of a report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), it’s vital that the voices of undocumented migrants are properly heard during the COVID inquiry. The report found that the UK “lagged far behind other European countries” in protecting undocumented migrants during the pandemic.

Caitlin Boswell, author of the report and policy officer at JCWI, said in a statement that if the government “wants to learn lessons” from this inquiry and “fully recover from the pandemic”, it needs to “stop prioritising its anti-immigration agenda above saving lives.” An anti-immigration agenda which is more commonly known as the Hostile Environment.

The term “Hostile Environment” is used by many to describe a set of policies that are intended to block undocumented migrants from using public services like the NHS and the police, as well as making work and housing inaccessible; effectively making life as difficult as possible.

Boswell added that the government “must listen to migrants’ voices, including those who’ve lost status, and ensure that in the future, no-one has their life put at risk because of their immigration status.” Boswell concluded that in “doing so will not only protect the most marginalised, it will help protect all of us.”

People With Disabilities

Sense, a charity which focuses on complex disabilities, has also called for the government to take the experiences of disabled people and their families into account. As the charity notes, 6 out of 10 people in the UK who have died from COID are disabled, despite making up 22 per cent of the general population.

“Decision-makers did not engage with us, our needs were often overlooked and communications were largely inaccessible,” Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy for Disability Rights UK, explained. “Health bodies treated our lives as less valued, disabled people receiving social care were inadequately protected, some disabled children were denied education and support, and supermarkets failed to ensure that we could access food.”

There is yet to be a date announced or confirmed for the COVID Inquiry.

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