Best-selling author of 10 books, including the still-popular "Sex and the City," Candace Bushnell has long espoused sexual freedom and female independence. However, Bushnell, now 60, now says she might have changed her life choices had she known what her 50s would be like.
Bushnell’s novel (and the television series that it inspired) follows the lives of four women and their romantic escapades in Manhattan. Among other themes, Sex and the City explores the ideas of sexual liberation, feminism, and female friendship. Bushnell’s protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw, is a loosely autobiographical character who chooses her career as a columnist over motherhood. She is the quintessential “independent woman.”
Successful, yet Unfulfilled
On Independence Day in 2002, Bushnell — who had formerly denounced marriage as a patriarchal construction that left women unhappy — married Charles Askegard, a ballet dancer, after dating for a mere two months. Less than 10 years later, the two divorced after a suspected affair between Charles and a younger ballerina.
Bushnell “started to see the impact of not having children and of truly being alone.”
Recently, the author told the Sunday Times that, following her separation, she “started to see the impact of not having children and of truly being alone.” She went on to say that “people with children have an anchor in a way that people who have no kids don’t.”
She admits to not considering this while in her 30s and 40s. To be fair, she was living the feminist dream. She had an incredibly successful career, was living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, and her work was known all over the world. In that scenario, it makes sense that she may have seen marriage and children as an unnecessary distraction from an exciting, and at the time, fulfilling life. But now, divorced and in her 60s, she's begun to see too late the other side of the argument.
Discovering Life Alone
Bushnell has poured her regrets and what she terms “middle-aged sadness” into a new book, entitled Is There Still Sex in the City? The novel, published last year, deals with the trials that single women face after they turn 50. Revolving around a group of women who relocate from New York City to the Hamptons (similar to Bushnell herself), the novel explores everything from Tinder dating to “cubbing” (older women dating younger men).
Except for the women in the new book, the lifestyle of casual sex and going out on the town has lost a lot of its sparkle. They're no longer as young or as sexy as they were at 30. The pickings of men are slim. Many of them divorced their husbands because they saw their 50s as their "last chance" to find a new husband, and all they've gotten, in the best case scenario, is a string of lovers rather than a lasting relationship.
Speaking both about her new storyline and her own life, Bushnell told the New York Post, “We’re all single women without children. And you think about, what are you going to do when you get old? If you don’t have kids, you realize, ‘Who is going to take care of me?’ Your girlfriends.”
“If you don’t have kids, you realize, ‘Who is going to take care of me?’ Your girlfriends.”
Bushnell has jumped back into the dating game and is now seeing real-estate consultant, Jim Coleman, who was introduced to her by friend and fellow author Jay McInerney. She has even admitted to being open to marriage again.
In her interview with the New York Post, she stated, “I think if you get married at 70, you probably will be married ‘til death do you part. Because at that point you gotta know something about what’s right and how to make relationships work.”
Although her writings inspired a culture of women who shunned marriage and children as roadblocks to career success and independence, Candace Bushnell has humbly admitted that the beliefs of her younger years may not have been the most sound. Though wildly successful, she has found that her “you can have it all” attitude actually left her lacking in certain areas.
We certainly hope that Miss Bushnell can find lasting love with Mr. McInerney, whom she affectionately calls Mr. Bigger (a play on her famous character, Mr. Big). And we appreciate her honesty regarding her life choices. Hopefully, she will continue to inspire young women with her burgeoning wisdom.