Suzanne Fields

While the show was originally hailed as a triumph of the sexual revolution, celebrating equality in the boudoir, it never quite turned out that way. If anatomy was not destiny, feelings were, as the women confronted their biological clocks, the middle-aging process, and the desire to find intimacy where a soulmate would become more important than a sexpot. While the concluding episode smacked of superficiality, the four protagonists exhibited a reach for maturity in marriage, and an awareness of the complex issues they would face as their families expanded with children as well as aging parents.

HBO has 28 million subscribers, small stuff compared to TBS, which can be seen in 88 million homes. Mitsubishi, a sponsor of the edited episodes, says its sponsorship is part of a larger strategy to reach "the more 'young at heart' mindset." Exactly whose hearts they have in mind is not clear. The emptiness of teenage sex, devoid of ritual and romance, and sometimes even a partner, is one of the sadder ironies of our time. "Who needs the hassle of dating when I've got online porn?" one teenage girl asks in a recent article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Another young girl tries to sound like Samantha, the most promiscuous of the women in the sitcom: "I try to set up a situation where I won't get hurt, and I still manage to get hurt."

Many teenage girls today sound remarkably like their counterparts who grew up in more conservative times, feeling rejected when the guy doesn't call again. Liberation was supposed to free women from such feelings.

In a fascinating study of the attitudes and values of today's college women, theIndependent Women's Forum, a Washington think tank for thinking women (and men), a large majority of women told researchers they really wanted to meet their husbands in college. Many thinking women have concluded that it's time to "take back the date," to cultivate courtship where a man and a woman get to know each other before they know each other.

It's Cupid who needs liberation. His arrows have been dulled by the coarseness of our times, and now they merely bounce, not pierce, when he aims them at couples "hooking up." It's impossible to pierce the heart or touch the emotions when an exchange of bodily juices is all there is between hello and goodbye. Fast sex, like fast food, is cheap, but it doesn't nourish the body - or the soul.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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