During the fourth 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. This year we’ll help you get through the middle (ok more like end this week) of the week wait for the next episode. *WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.
Harry on Puerto Rican women.
When even Pete’s not in the mood to hear about it, you know you’re being an asshole. -Ann
Its like that awful feeling I got in high school where I was partly excited that the white boys noticed who I was, while being equally reviled in their attention. -Samhita
Peggy meets Joyce, sees some nudes.
I love that in a very traditional Mad Men episode (basically a clone of a season one episode) we’ve got Peggy making a female professional friend (or perhaps “friend”?) in the elevator. This wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago, and now there are at least two young women who aren’t secretaries in one building. -Jos
Joyce is amazing. Secretary: “She’s so arrogant….” Peggy looking dreamily: ”I know…”-Samhita
Faye’s focus group.
Yes, Faye’s brilliant at her job. It’s just sad that this means making herself seem less smart and qualified than she is. This episode had a lot of class dynamics between women – we’ve now got professional women and female secretaries in the same space, and that’s bringing up a lot of complications (Joyce and her friends’ field trip to look at the front desk secretary was just sad). In this case Faye has to act like she hasn’t had success in order to be accepted. I got a vibe of superiority from both Faye and Peggy when it came to the secretaries, but also a lot more understanding than Don or Freddy would ever offer. -Jos
I really appreciate the complexity that Faye is bringing to the dynamic, since we don’t totally know her history, but she is confident and good at her job. And Don can’t get her in bed! -Samhita
Allison and Don.
I get that Don’s an asshole and I get that Don treats women like objects. But in this particular instance, I didn’t get what the big deal was. Of course he made a mistake and her feelings were hurt when he didn’t acknowledge it afterwards. He tells her that she is free to do whatever she feels more comfortable with (stay or leave) and even offers her the best letter of recommendation– one she can write herself and he signs off on. I might be missing something, but I’m not sure what the hell else Don was supposed to do. What did she want from him? -Anna
She’s his secretary. That power dynamic brings so much with it, and Don used to know better. Yes, they both made a mistake, but Don was completely unwilling to engage in any sort of discussion. A few seasons ago this wouldn’t be expected, but now characters are starting to actually talk about things. I think Allison at least expected him to be a person about it, instead of cold and professional. Yes, letting her write her own recommendation is a great business offer, but I think it’s an asshole way to deal with sleeping together.
Also, this is hilarious. -Jos
Yeah, I think Don was such an asshole, but I really appreciated someone completely bugging out on him instead of just accepting his cold ways. Don is slowly breaking down, you can tell he feels bad, but doesn’t really know how to express that. -Samhita
Peggy goes to a party with Joyce.
Last week we got dick jokes. This week we got, “He doesn’t own your vagina!” “No but he’s renting it!” Win! Of course the show gets us all excited with Joyce coming out and then throws Peggy in a closet with miscellaneous guy person. If Peggy actually goes gay Mad Men is officially tied with Buffy for most awesomest TV show ever! -Jos
Random FYI: I totally went to high school with closet boy. -Vanessa
Look at those fucking hipsters!! Seriously, though I now have my hopes up: I want Peggy to leave her icky boyfriend for Vanessa’s high-school classmate, the closet-kisser. Or Joyce. Swoon. -Ann
Closet kisser was a hunk. What’s his number V??? And I love Joyce or any pot-smoking, film going, underground partying, bohemian lesbian that uses words like “swellegant.” -Samhita
Don’s almost apology letter to Allison.
Don was almost a person for a second there and then, nope, not so much. -Jos
It was so pathetic. And I felt bad for him. Which, in a nutshell, explains many of my dating travails. Haha. -Samhita
Peggy finds out about Pete and Trudy’s pregnancy. Peggy and Pete’s moment.
I don’t know why, but I totally want Peggy and Pete to be together. Pete is definitely a gross sleazeball at times and Peggy can do better but I sorta feel like they’re the messed up Joey-Pacey couple of the show. I’m rooting for them for some reason. So this moment was really touching for me, especially the moment where she comes to Pete in person to congratulate him. And then again when they share that uber-long stare from the lobbies. Sigh. -Anna
Wow. Three seasons worth of an incredibly complex dynamic led to this deeply charged, deeply affecting moment. There’s so much going on here – Peggy moving forward into a new social sphere, Pete trying to rise up the old ranks. No doubt having a child is a chance to move on from his first child for Pete, but also brings back all those memories and feelings. Some part of Peggy must still want that life with Pete, but she really is so far beyond that now. I think it was really smart to start 1965 with the two young characters we’ve seen grow up over the course of the show so far. It’s their world now, as the last episode made incredibly clear (though Don’s still going to manage to commercialize that – young people control so much of the economy for a reason!). -Jos
Their moment (and this episode in general) was also symbolic of the shift happening in the 60s in America, towards more movement-building and progressive thought (Peggy’s new friends) challenging the traditional and conventionality of the 50s (Pete and fam). -Vanessa
Peggy is really all over the place in this episode — trying on Faye’s wedding ring and thinking about what might have been with Pete… but also hanging out with her fellow career gals and smoking weed and making out with strangers in closets. Something about this felt really modern to me — more so than any other character at any other point in this series, her desires and struggles seemed to pretty closely mirror what the young women I know are going through. Societal pressures versus personal desires. Can’t wait to see what else happens with Peggy this season. -Ann
Yeah, I appreciate the complexity they are giving Peggy. And that look with Pete. So pregnant, for lack of a better word. It almost made me tear and I am not totally sure why. I hate Pete Campbell, LOL. -Samhita
Don rejects Faye’s marriage-related ad pitch. “Hello 1925. You stick your finger in people’s brains, and they just start talking.”
Right, we’re supposed to be rooting for Don because he’s totally progressive! ::Rolls eyes:: -Anna
For serious! It’s almost like he’s saying something progressive, but it’s only to make a buck, and he still doesn’t see these women as people. -Jos
Look, I won’t defend Don’s character. But I do think this exchange was fascinating to anyone who’s ever critiqued the way advertisers appeal to women. It’s because of research like this that, to this day, advertisers choose to stoke women’s fears that they are not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not appealing enough to men. On some level I agree with Don that if you asked women, “would you rather be told you are strong and beautiful, or told you need to find a husband?” even most women in 1965 would choose the former. Yet if you just let them talk in a women-only environment, their insecurities will emerge instead. They will return some version of the message they’ve heard all their lives, which is that their worth is correlated with how men see them. -Ann
I think part of Don’s anger here is because of his own failed marriage and feelings of loneliness and pathetic-ness without a woman as of late. He is getting there is something wrong with the system of marriage and the pressure to be coupled, even though he is on the beneficial end of it. -Samhita
The assassination of Malcolm X.
Well that barely got a mention. -Jos
Yeah, for all of Peggy’s participation in the “counter-culture,” she is painfully clueless. Even for bowtie Joey, Malcolm X’s death is a news item, not a core-shaking event. Maybe Peggy’s former coworker Kinsey is a bit more tuned in, wherever he is these days, but somehow I doubt it. All of this is a really stark reminder of what white people were actually paying attention to in 1965. And for me, it’s yet another reminder of how little has changed. How many white people are paying close attention to the major civil rights and justice issues of today? -Ann
This made me really upset. It was intense. -Samhita
“Did you get pears?” “We’ll discuss it inside.”
Fucking brilliant. -Vanessa
Don is going to die alone. -Ann
So fucking alone. -Samhita