Postfeminism is "a cultural response to feminism", a response of "collective ambivalence” for being "both feminist and anti-feminist”(Butler 44-45). In line with neoliberalism, postfeminism emphasizes on individual empowerment through individual regulation and transformation. On one hand it offers positive and powerful messages to women; on the other, it “inscrib(es) increasingly narrow definitions of femininity around body consciousness and age” (Whelehan 2010). Postfeminism offers ideal femininity image to guide female regulation and transformation. In the postfeminist discourse, women are constructed as "subjects and consumers”, who employ the mechanism of consumption to tackle issues of aging, motherhood, body, intimate relationship, etc. (Butler 45) Sex and the City showcases how white middle-class urban women deal with these issues. The protagonists are independent, professional women who are successful at work but consistently anxiously deal with these postfeminist problems (especially intimate relationship) through self-improvement. Women can work as successfully as men, but unequal gender norms are still in play here, as men is at the center of women's problems and not the other way around. As Anthea Taylor points out, "a viable postfeminist subjectivity for women is presumed to be contingent on the search for, and attainment, of a man — a desire thoroughly normalized.”(105) Women renew themselves through makeover while men remain "the static romance hero” (Whelehan 2010).
In Sex and the City, Carrie talks about how unfriendly the society is for single people and that she decides to marry to herself. It seems that singleness is often perceived as a temporary stage, especially for women. Woman singleness is still interpreted as a loss; because their independence is gained at the expense of a husband or a family. Woman singleness is either to be overcome in a relationship, or to be reassured by therapy/comfort. One crucial desire in this postfeminist discourse, is to regulate or transform themselves in order to (re)enter the “compulsory heterosexual” relationship or family system again (Butler 39). Another crucial desire is consumption, to fulfill desires for fashion, beauty and youth. Carrie’s fetish on shoes is a normalized female desire, a great example of empowerment through consumption. But we should notice that the construction of women as “subjects and consumers” in postfeminism doesn't prevent women from being objects of consumption. Sexual freedom inevitably comes with sexual objectification/consumption on female body.
Imelda Whelehan, Remaking feminism: or why is postfeminism so boring? Nordic Journal of English Studies. 9.3 (Sept. 2010): p155.
Anthea Taylor, Single Women in Popular Culture: The Limits of Postfeminism, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2012.