Mad Men Mondays: We’re not chauvinists, we just have expectations


During the third season of Mad Men Feministing writers will offer some of our thoughts on feminist moments, scenes, and themes in the new episodes in order to start a discussion about these topics in our community. *WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.
Betty’s dream.
Every time Betty wishes to passively allow life to happen to her, the fainting couch is involved. Being undressed by a man you’re not married to? It’s ok, darling, you’re clearly in distress because you’re on your fainting couch! -Ariel
Betty: “I want what I want when I want it. You don’t care what it does to the rest of us. Like someone else I know.”
Or like every relationship with a clear power dynamic in this episode. Conrad Hilton, Lee Garner, Jr., and Don Draper all want something: Connie wants a campaign, but also constant support, Lee wants Sal, and Don wants Miss Farrell. And they don’t care about how getting what they want affects anyone else. -Jos

The “I have a dream” speech.

I thought this was a nice correlation to the Birmingham terrorism referenced later in the show, as a sign not only of the disconnect, but of the contrast between the young activist teacher and the older, noncommittal ad man. -Ariel


Don and Miss Farrell: “Who are you? Are you dumb or pure or…”
Don is such an asshole. While I knew this affair was coming, I just wish that the show would have one woman turn Don down, especially the one who seems the most socially aware and cynical of his game. He comes off as such an ass, but she still succumbs to his wiles. Pisses me off. -Vanessa
Don expressed a similar sentiment about Miss Farrell as the audience has – who is this woman? What stereotype box does she fit into? The character’s a challenge, a really interesting one. I’m curious to see where this affair goes, actually, as I think she’s a bit more aware than Don is. -Jos

The different ways Betty and Don go about an affair.

Watching Don and Betty pursue affairs at the same time it was obvious how much more experience Don has. Betty had to be told she had to go to Henry Francis – Don knew he had to go to Miss Farrell. Betty is unsure at every step, Don confident. He’s an old pro. Asshole. -Jos
It’s interesting how Don will begin an affair as a result of his own failure, and Betty starts one in seeking independence. -Vanessa

Don: “I can’t do this all by myself.”

Why don’t you stop being such an asshole to everyone, then? Mmmkay? -Ann
I find it really compelling to see Don in a position of vulnerability. Hilton is clearly his superior, and Don’s shifts from overly complimentary to exasperated to praising to sarcastic showed his struggle to navigate this role after rising to a position of power. -Jos
Lee Garner, Jr. molests Sal, gets him fired. Don: “You must have been really shocked.” “But nothing happened, because nothing could have happened, because you’re married.” Sal: “I guess I was just supposed to do whatever he wanted? What if some girl?” Don: “That would depend on what kind of girl it was and what I knew about her. You people.” Sal: “I didn’t do anything but turn him down. He’s a bully.” Don: “I think you know that this is the way this has to be.”
Don saying “You people” was just so cutting. I’d kind of wanted to believe that, after Don spotted Sal with the bell-hop in the hotel, that Don was just a live-and-let-live type. As in, he didn’t want to talk to Sal about it, but he wasn’t judging because lord knows Don has skeletons in his own closet. But last night’s episode showed that isn’t really true. Don is a huge fucking asshole, not a confidant. He has basically viewed Sal as some sort of deviant ever since spotting him through the hotel window. So devastating. When Sal acts (even a tiny bit) on his true sexual impulses, he loses. When he maintains his veneer of heterosexuality, he loses. -Ann
“It would depend on what kind of girl it was and what I knew about her,” Don replies. Way to take a hard line on special privileges for The Gays, Don! Philandering: the job qualification. -Ariel
I liked Alan Sepinwall’s hypothetical question about this scene: “put Peggy in Sal’s position in this story, as Sal more or less tries to do. How does Don react when he finds out a client ordered her firing because she wouldn’t have sex with him?” -Ann
This scene was so unbelievably upsetting but so on spot. But did Sal’s character really have to sacrificed? Between Joan and now him, I’d be devastated if he was gone for good – his character is just too important to have on the show. And ditto to what Ann says. I hate Don more and more in every episode this season. -Vanessa
For Coming Out Day Mad Men gave us what I thought was one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve seen on the show. Seeing Sal explode after Lee left the editing room, knowing what a vulnerable position he was in. The matter of fact-ness of his firing. The litany of hateful words spewed by Don. He managed to paint gay men as sexual deviants, reject the importance of consent, and then fire Sal for being gay all in one scene. A reminder that being fired for being gay doesn’t exist in some inferior past: in 29 states you can be fired for being gay. In 38 you can be fired for being transgender. We need very badly to pass a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. -Jos
Betty writes to Henry Francis: “But I do have thoughts.”
I think one of the reasons Betty is attracted to Henry is that he knows her in a very different context than Don. He met her independently of her husband and they sort of cemented their flirtation while working to block the reservoir project — something that Betty clearly feels very proud about. This was the logical follow-up to her comment to Henry in the coffeeshop about having a college degree she never uses. She loves the idea of someone who thinks she’s smart, more than a housewife. -Ann
Conrad Hilton: “It’s my purpose in life to bring America to the world, whether they like it or not. You know, we are a force of good Don, because we have God. Communists don’t. It’s their most important belief.”
And here’s the shows remembrance of Columbus Day (aka Colonialism and Genocide Day). Hilton speaks about spreading America around the world (and to the moon!) in such a matter of fact way it’s jarring. The show takes place in the period when the U.S.’s power was still on the rise following World War II, right before American superiority begins to really get questioned because of, among other things, Vietnam. -Jos
Don’s relationship with Conrad Hilton.
No wonder Conrad sees Don as more of a son than his biological sons. He sees himself in Don, in that they both came to their positions of power of their own accord rather than by inheriting wealth. It’s true that this is as close as Don has come to having a father. Connie’s wealth and status — and the circumstances under which he and Don met — make him more than a client. -Ann
Betty to Bobby: “Carla works for me not you.”
For me, this was the reminder that Carla works. What I struggled with in this episode was the fact that every time Carla was given an order, or finished a day of work, she said “Thank you.” It just feels like de-facto indentured servitude. -Ariel
“I voted for Kennedy, I’ll probably vote for him again.”
Foreshadowing! Dun dun dun! -Ariel

Betty and her friends talk about segregation in the south while Carla silently works in the background.

The civil rights movement is inserted rather quietly into the show — cocktail-party chatter, a bit of radio noise in the background. Indeed, if you’re an upper-class white woman in the northern U.S. without particularly strong political beliefs, like Betty, I imagine this is exactly how distant the movement would feel. I found her choice of words to Carla — “You can leave it on your station” — to be so telling. Betty feels zero investment in or relationship to the cause of civil rights. She cannot connect the clips she sees on the news with her own privilege, treatment of Carla, and role in the oppression of black Americans. That seems to hypocritical to us, watching this show in 2009. But this sort of thing is absolutely still happening today. Privilege means you have the option of tuning out the news and being disengaged from what you perceive as other people’s fights for equality. -Ann
What tweaked my gut is the privilege oozing from Betty: the idea that while Carla is concerned, and acts as a surrogate mother to Betty’s children, Betty knows her children would never be in a dangerous, “black” situation. Is it possible the writers also intended to map this out onto the modern-day LGBT human rights movement? It would correlate well time-wise. -Ariel
The way Carla occupied visual space in the Draper house in this episode was just brilliant. A group of white women stands talking about how horrible and backwards the South is while Carla is separated from them spacially, working in the hall, and by the way the women are standing, circled up and facing away from her. Carla quietly goes about her work behind them, cut off and ignored. -Jos
Henry Francis to Betty: “I don’t know what you want.”
Betty doesn’t know what she wants. I found her to be so incredibly annoying in this episode, like a petulant child. She’s bored and wants attention. -Ann
I think the theme of not know what you want extended well beyond Betty in this episode to Don and his confusion with Miss Farrell, Sal and his intense building hatred of the closet, and Conrad Hilton and his moon. It’s true, Betty doesn’t know what she wants, just that she wants something different, something better than the suburban fantasy of the prison she lives in. -Jos
Birmingham. Betty to Carla: “I hate to say this, but it’s really made me wonder about civil rights. Maybe it’s not supposed to happen right now.”
Again, stunningly beautiful use of space. Carla stands trapped and separated, confined in the small space between the table and the wall. Her voice, her experience is so small and cramped in this house. Betty’s ignorant comment gets more air. -Jos
Deborah Lacey (who plays Carla) really knocked it out of the park this episode. In nearly every scene she’s in, her facial expressions say a thousand words. -Ann

Sal goes cruising.

Like Ann said – Sal is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, so he might as well do what he wants, and come what may. But while he plays the “deviant” Don paints him as, both Don and him do the same thing in this episode as a result of their career failures by committing philandery. The difference is that Don doesn’t have qualms about it. -Vanessa
Miss Farrell: “I don’t think you’ve done this before this way.” Don: “I want you. I don’t care. Doesn’t that mean anything to someone like you?”
He may as well have added, “…you pathetic, desperate, single woman who probably falls asleep every night dreaming that a man like me will even look at you!” Again, Don makes me wanna puke. -Ann

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37 Comments

  1. drdale
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    The statement, “You people.”, could refer to the entire staff making blunders which irritate the clients.

  2. Lisa
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    No.

  3. cwize
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    “But this sort of thing is absolutely still happening today. Privilege means you have the option of tuning out the news and being disengaged from what you perceive as other people’s fights for equality”
    There’s more irony in this statement than perhaps intended. It’s the privileged White Liberal Establishment (read – congressional Dems) who claim to be champions of civil rights, yet remain as disengaged and tuned out of the real lives of these “little people” as can be. This is why I see the mantras of “working families”, “a living wage”, “alternative lifestyles”, etc. as hollow platitudes to keep the minority groups (be it racial, gender, sexual, or immigrant) voting for them with no real plan to enable (or even allow) them to make their lives better.

  4. Toongrrl
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to watch this episode

  5. Mishi
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been waiting for this post all day, this episode just broke my poor heart. Poor poor Sal.
    Though did anyone else see Peggy’s knowing little smile when Don got put down by Connie? She just smirked a little when she was leaving the room and it made me love her that much more. This season has really endeared me to Peggy in a new way.
    Also did anyone think Ms. Farrell would deny him? She looked unwilling right before he kissed her. The power situation in that scene was just so out of control. I felt really bad for her.

  6. Tara K.
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Dear Jos,
    You’re so smart. And cool. I kind of read your writing the way I read lines from Tina Fey — with admiration, and a little jealousy, and possible the urge to hug you.
    Tara

  7. bluebears
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    While the scene between Don and Sal was heartbreaking, how many (hypothetical) women do you think most likely lost their jobs at SC because they wouldn’t “put out” to any number of superiors. I just find it perturbing that people internet-wide (not here) are labeling that scene the most upsetting of the series (and there were 2 rapes!!) and I’m just struck anew by how much people don’t care about issues that effect women until a man is affected, even a gay man. I’m probably not expressing this in the best way but…hope people see what I’m saying.

  8. conductress
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    This episode was just heartbreaking. Betty’s letter to Henry, Sal’s situation, and Carla… When Betty says that the Birmingham bombings were awful, she and Carla almost have a moment of shared feeling. But then Betty says that maybe the time isn’t right for Civil Rights and Carla’s face falls, because she realizes that nothing has changed and that Betty just doesn’t get it. So sad.
    I don’t like Don’s affair with the teacher, but I think it does reflect his privilege well. When she tells him that she sees his wife in the market and taught his daughter, he says he “doesn’t care,” which completely misses the point. *She’s* the one who has to deal with the proximity to his family. It doesn’t affect his at all; it really just is another affair for him.

  9. Juli
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I understand what you’re saying. :)
    To me (personally) the Sal scene was the most upsetting. Even though Joan and the German au pair WERE raped, they didn’t have Sal’s emotion in the scene because they thought they owed the men sex. Joan was raped by her fiance and probably doesn’t even realize that she was raped. And because we didn’t see the au pair’s reaction it doesn’t resonate as much with me. Sal, on the other hand, knew that he didn’t deserve that treatment.
    One could argue that because the two women didn’t understand that they had been wronged makes the rapes more heartbreaking, and I could see that vantage point as well. This is just my personal take. :)

  10. Juli
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    The scene where Bobby was being hateful over his salad really stood out to me. When he mouthed off to Carla Betty scolded him, and at first I was really proud of her. Then she had to follow it up with “Carla works for me, not you.” Not “you shouldn’t speak to adults like that” or “you shouldn’t be so disrespectful of other people.” It’s “Carla doesn’t work for YOU.” So Betty is basically saying that SHE can talk to Carla however she wants. Of course, she’s [i]relatively[/i] respectful of Carla, but still.
    Sal can’t leave the show. He just can’t, I won’t stand for it. And why is Joan still at that boutique?!

  11. Philosimphy
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Where does one go to see Mad Men if they don’t have cable?

  12. Ciara
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    You can watch episodes on a sidereel.com.

  13. Juli
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I watch on yidio.com if I miss it. :) They have all the episodes, including season 1 and 2.

  14. argolis
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    Miss Farrell: “I don’t think you’ve done this before this way.” Don: “I want you. I don’t care. Doesn’t that mean anything to someone like you?”
    He may as well have added, “…you pathetic, desperate, single woman who probably falls asleep every night dreaming that a man like me will even look at you!” Again, Don makes me wanna puke. -Ann

    Woah, try to contain your revulsion for Don just a little bit while you analyze the scene.
    My impression was that Don saw Miss Farrell as someone bright, girlish, carefree. She made his heart ache in the way the Anne Margaret clip did. It’s not that he thought of her desperately waiting for a man like him… No, to him she’s new, fresh out of the box. Don’s impetuous passion feels so much like a teenager’s. I think he wants her to be swept away by it in the same way he is.
    Obviously, it’s all sorts of fucked up since Miss Farrell is so much smarter and more adult than he realizes… I’ve read that she represents the new guard, with her teaching the MLK Jr. speech in school and jogging on the side of the road. All these things that we recognize as early-adopter cues, he just finds quirky?

  15. theemilymyth
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    The fainting couch is and always has been a masturbation couch. She’s asserting her sexuality. Duh. I just hate that the guy who pointed it out to her is basically Don 2.0.

  16. Jessica
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Why should she “try to contain” her revulsion? How we feel about characters is part of the analyzing.

  17. Lamour
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I love that Carla was literally checking privilege at the door.

  18. pinkpicnic
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    “I think he wants her to be swept away by it in the same way he is.”
    I don’t think Don is sweeping anyone away. He’s been getting owned all episode and is toppling from the top of power. He needs to exert power over someone, someone who has not yet succumbed to him (the teacher). This was the clumsiness Don seduction ever. Ms. Farrell’s reaction was pretty much, “Eh, I guess this is happening.” Not exactly enthusiastic consent.

  19. Hara
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    About the affair between Don and the teacher-
    Are people really that self aware as they enter such relationships? Back then? That dialogue seemed ridiculous to me.
    I love that the Draper boy felt he had power over Carla and had to be reprimanded to not talk to her with blatant disrespect. For Betty, it was a lesson in manners for her child, for Carla…something different registered on her face.
    Great acting in that scene.
    Jos, I didn’t find the way Carla occupied physical space brilliant, it was a little too on the nose and obvious to me. The character that was all but invisible in previous episodes is suddenly seen in the background and also listens to the radio broadcast in the kitchen.
    It just felt so forced to me.
    The best part of this episode, IMHO, was Don’s expectation that Sal should have complied with the wishes of the Bully client.

  20. Tinnie
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    srry im not an avid watcher, but I found this show repulsive when it first aired (the scene where the men watch through a glass window to pick a girl to hire was beyond creepy)
    but as I watch it, it intrigues me.
    I find it very wishful thinking that there are strong enough feminist themes to actually persue in this show, or it’s really subtle. I want to know if the writers of the show do have a feminist agenda or include the feminist movement in the show?
    it just seems to me like a bunch of jerk guys being chauvinists and their women hardly developed characters *with exception to a few*
    help me, i want to like this show but…i guess i need guidance to the feminist themes

  21. Mama Mia
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I only have a few things to add that haven’t already been mentioned.
    When Betty tells Carla that this isn’t the time for civil rights, it cuts immediately to Sal. I took that as a comment about how modern civil rights efforts for gay rights are being told to wait, it isn’t the right time.
    Don tells Sal that he would expect a woman to also have sex with a client if she was a certain kind of woman and he knew sensitive information about her. He feels these type of people (including gay men in vulnerable professional positions) have no right to control their own sexuality should a more powerful man want to control it.
    When Don wants to seduce the teacher and she says it wouldn’t be appropriate, he calls her “someone like you,” meaning she is not the type of woman allowed to control her own sexuality, and as a powerful man, he is allowed to have what he wants because of it.
    Later, when Betty decides against pursuing a sexual relationship with Henry, also because it wouldn’t be appropriate, he doesn’t force her to continue, because she is not that “type of woman.” It was a stark comparison- some people are culturally acceptable to abuse.
    At first I thought Henry was actually pretty respectful since he didn’t push Betty, but then I decided he is probably just like Don, and Betty is the kind of woman you are not allowed to sully.

  22. argolis
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Because she and the rest of the commentators here stop being able provide useful commentary if all they can (sometimes inaccurately) say about a scene between Don and a woman he’s interested in is that HE’S A JERKY JERK MISOGYNIST ASSHOLE WHO PISSES ME OFF.
    Seriously, in the feministing contributor’s analysis, Don was called an ass or an asshole at least *five* times. I mean, jeez. We get it.
    My favorite Mad Men analysis by far comes from the Onion’s AV Club. It’s always just so thoughtful and elegant and, most importantly to me, however messed up a character is, they never treat them Bad Guy #1 or whatever. Take this: http://www.avclub.com/articles/wee-small-hours,33951/
    But also because Don can’t believe that Sal wasn’t up to something in that editing room. (“You people,” he clucks, in one of the most disappointing Don Draper moments ever.) There’s definitely a double-standard at work between what Don expects from others and what he expects from himself. Don’s certain that Sal transgressed, because gays can’t help themselves. But at the end of the episode, when he knocks on Miss Farrell’s door, he’s clearly following Connie’s advice: “God speaks to us; we have an impulse, and we act on it.”
    Oh, and NY Mag’s Culture Vulture had great analysis too: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2009/10/mad_men_the_pursuit_of_happine.html
    Maybe Sal needs a random hookup for the same reason Don keeps cruising for Miss Farrell in his car. The episode ends with Don in streetwise Miss Farrell’s bed. “I’m new and I’m different,” she says, “or maybe I’m exactly the same.” And that’s exactly where we find Don: making the same mistakes, deluding himself much as Betty deluded herself. We know this when Don asks her if she’s “dumb or pure.” Clearly, Miss Farrell is neither. Don must be talking about a dream of her, a vision of her dancing around a maypole, his own version of Betty’s Victorian fantasy.

  23. argolis
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    When Betty tells Carla that this isn’t the time for civil rights, it cuts immediately to Sal. I took that as a comment about how modern civil rights efforts for gay rights are being told to wait, it isn’t the right time.
    Good catch!

  24. Juli
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what you mean by “with exception to a few.” Personally I think that female characters get just as much development as the male ones. Don gets the most attention because he’s the “lead,” but after him I would say Betty is the most developed character. Trudy and Joan are extremely developed. Even characters who get little screentime, Trudy, Mona, Carla, all have very good development IMO.

  25. Pencils
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Joan knew she was being raped, and knew that she was being raped by the one man she was supposed to be able to trust more than any other. But there was nothing she could do, she wasn’t willing to risk her position at Sterling Cooper by screaming for help. The ever-efficient, ever-resourceful Joan the office manager isn’t someone who gets raped in her boss’s office, she would never be able to return there as her persona would be destroyed. So she took herself away–and the ease in which she did it made me wonder if she had done it before. As much as I love the character of Sal, I didn’t find this week’s episode anywhere near as affecting as Joan’s rape. And I do agree that many, many people don’t care about women’s issues until a man is affected.

  26. Hara
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you on both points.
    I lived in Topanga Cyn and watched children treat their housekeepers and nannies with such disrespect. I will never forget what a lil monster Zoe Moon-Kravitz, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet aka Lilakoi Moon’s daughter, was to her “nanny” when she came to pick her up from the Waldorf school my son also attended.
    I witnessed a repeat performance, in front of her mother at the May Day festival.
    It was obscene the way she was allowed to speak to her. Obscene but common.
    It’s not at all unusual in L.A. and Malibu Counties for children to be disrespectful to their Latino nannies, housekeepers, landscapers, etc. and their parents not reprimand them for it at all.

  27. conductress
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I think Carla’s presence in this episode seemed obvious only because the show has done such a poor job with the character before. She’s almost always present in that house, yet we hardly ever see her and know very little about her life. In this episode, we finally got to see her emotional life, if not her material life as separate from the Drapers. It seems like the writers are finally taking the criticisms of the show’s white-centric-ness to heart and I, for one, am very glad. The actor who plays Carla was great in this episode (even if you thought the directing was heavy-handed, you have to admit that she did a fantastic job displaying subtle emotional shifts), so I hope that she continues to play a bigger role on the show.

  28. Juli
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I disagree. I don’t think that Joan understood that she was being raped, because it’s the 1960s and he’s a man that she had prior consensual sex with. We still get cases today of women who don’t think they’ve been raped because he was their boyfriend.

  29. Juli
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Ugh, that’s just disgusting. Do the kids mouth off to their parents like that too?

  30. Elizabeth
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I would disagree with the comparison to Don. I mean, yeah, he’s looking for sex. But he’s shown he at least respects the woman he wants – we don’t see the kind of pressure Don puts on the women he chases. And he isn’t married.

  31. Elizabeth
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I think maybe the fact that the show is rather subtle (which some would see as slow moving) compared to other hollywood dramas is why you think the characters aren’t well developed. Many hollywood shows make it much more obvious what characters are thinking and feeling, so you don’t have to watch as actively to notice things (ie you can be lazy and still understand what’s going on). This show shows the characters more realistically. I think you would have to watch several episodes in a row to really understand the characters and dynamics. Which I think is more true to the realities of life.

  32. DRush76
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    But there was nothing she could do, she wasn’t willing to risk her position at Sterling Cooper by screaming for help.
    Perhaps. But Joan did not have to marry Greg. She didn’t have to. And I cannot help but wonder if she was so desperate to get married that she went ahead and married a man who had raped her. Frankly, I found Joan’s decision to marry Greg rather contemptible. And a sign that she was never that together than she had projected.

  33. Hara
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    Yes. It was culturally shocking to my son and I as we moved to SoCal from NOLA, where people are taught to speak to each other, especially someone who takes care of you or has survived more days than you with respect.

  34. neomott
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    She may have not named the action “rape”, but Joan knew exactly what was happening to her-her body and trust were being violated. I haven’t seen the episode since it aired, but the abject, blank look on Joan’s face has haunted me-she had to escape somehow to get through it. Now that I think about it, if we could go back to a magical Mad Men world and ask Joan what her fiance did to her I think she would say rape. I just don’t think she would say that to anyone else.

  35. Pencils
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    There’s a difference in not knowing that you have been raped, and not knowing that you have a right NOT to be raped. Joan knew she was being forced to have sex she didn’t want. She might not have called it “rape” but she knew it was a violation. Women in the 60s weren’t stupid, most just saw the world differently than we do. And you have to remember that this is a modern show written about those times. It’s not entirely historically accurate.

  36. Pencils
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    No, she didn’t have to marry Greg, but at her age, it’s unlikely that she would have had a opportunity for such a “good” marriage again. Women in those days didn’t see marriage as an option, it was what you did or you didn’t have a place in society after a certain age (unless you were independently wealthy or otherwise unusual.) And women in her time period didn’t see partner rape in the same way we do. She might have blamed herself. Joan’s problem is that she boxed herself in: her character is the less modern woman, while Peggy is the more modern one. Joan doesn’t see an acceptable future for herself where she isn’t married to a rich man, and Greg was probably her last chance. You may call it contemptible, but others might see it as pragmatic for the time in which she lived. Personally, I think she should have married Roger, although that probably wouldn’t have been happy for long, but then Roger is unlikely to live to a ripe old age anyway.

  37. MiloJ
    Posted October 17, 2009 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I agree that while she didn’t “have” to marry Greg, it was a time marriage was something that wasn’t always a choice, it was what you were supposed/have to do. I’m not sure about my time line here exactly, but women weren’t allowed to take out bank loans or have credit in their own names – they had to use a husband’s or father’s to make any large purchases. I know in the 70′s my mother bought a condo as a single woman, and she had to use her father’s name on the loan papers – even though she was securely employed tenured teacher, AND the legal title she had to put down on the loan application was “spinster”. She asked if they could change it to “bachelorette” and was told that “spinster” was the only legal term they could use to describe an unmarried woman. This experience was at least 10 years after the time-frame of the show, and after the sexual revolution, and feminist mystique came out!
    On an entirely different note, while I see what you are saying about rape scene changing the way you saw Joan’s “put-together-ness”, I have trouble with the judgment being passed. Just because Joan is a survivor of partner-rape and she makes the decision to stay with the rapist due to the many societal and financial pressures she is under, doesn’t mean she isn’t still a capable and put-together woman. It doesn’t make her weak IMO.

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