The Grace&Frankie Sexual Revolution
It's a truism repeated so often it warrants suspicion, but as it's generally believed, Sex and the City was both the product of- and vehicle for a 90s sexual revolution. No more were women over thirty-five put to pasture. They drank, had careers, explored niggling doubts about life, and above all, they had sex. Lots of it. Case in point, over ninety-four episodes, though regelated as the group 'prude', even Charlotte had what Miranda once irreverently called 'a decent amount of bone' in her.
Brav-hoe, ladies. We'll be eternally grateful - even as new generations of women are likely to find more and more that is problematic within the six-series franchise. (None the least Carrie's inability to have seen Aiden - not Big - as the next best choice to a life lived without serious romantic attachment, but we digress.)
Like Sex and the City before it, Grace and Frankie is fostering a deeply-rebellious, sexually-charged revolution through mainstream popular culture. But you'd be forgiven for not knowing so, 'cause no one's actually talking about it.
Unlike episodes of SATC that were hungrily dissected over cocktail hour each week, one of the most provocative and inspiring things on television for the better part of a decade is being largely ignored and undersold. And we think we know why.
Let's backtrack. The show, for those unfamiliar with it, is written around a pair of women (Jane Fonda as 'Grace', and Lily Tomlin as 'Frankie') fairly different from one another in almost every sense but two - that their husbands have left them for each other after hiding their romance for decades, and that they are both in their mid-to-late seventies.
As the series develops through the impact of two divorces and one marriage on their tight-knit families (the Hansons and the Bergsteins), Grace and Frankie come into their own in a way they hadn't been able to before. Part of this Kate Chopin-esque 'awakening'* is their budding sex toy business, featuring wonder-product Ménage à Moi.
Made for seniors, the vibrator is soft-grip and comes with glow-in-the-dark buttons. Anyone keen on the action can also buy Frankie's yam-filled, natural lubricant.
Yes, please?!! These women are showing UP for not only female sexuality, but for female sexual pleasure. Do you know how big that is? The pleasure gap question - a discussion elsewhere only seeing the light of day in far-left leaning feminist groups - is happening on Netflix, of all places. And all thanks to Grace and Frankie - two women in their seventies who won't let age get in the way of an orgasm. Hell.Yes.
But the message isn't being that widely received. Why? Netflix serving suggestions aside, we suspect the reason to be the potential viewer's internal vetting process on arrival at the Grace and Frankie Netflix 'page'; two women with grey hair on a feature image looking at each other whimsically doesn't spell out 'radical feminists most welcome' - because we're not used to women over seventy being radical feminists.
Sure, we quote our Toni Morrison's and Gloria Steinhem's, but apart from slapping a few of their words on a black and white photo of their much-younger selves and circulating this on Tumblr come 8th March, modern feminists don't include them in modern conversations about womxnhood. Their contribution, say we, is done.
But just as we should celebrate the renaissance young feminists are currently exploring and creating, just so we would do well to note that new ideas don't have to come only with a new generation.
Paying attention to women over a given age is not a duty. It's not respect. It's not something you should do on your way to being a well-rounded, 21st Century revolutionary. It's just the smart, most logical thing to do for the betterment of womxn everywhere. So, start with Grace and Frankie, why don'tcha?**
*It's not lost on us that the connection between Kate, Grace, and Frankie is also strongly facilitated by their station as wealthy, white, cisgender, straight women. And we can unfortunately - as is too often, if not always the case - only imagine how these new sexual dynamics would play in even less-represented communities.
**You can actually follow Frankie on Twitter, where she is hilarious.