Mad Men Midweek Fix: Hands and Knees

Mad Men Midweek FixDuring 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 of the week wait for the next episode. *WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.

Don invites Sally to see The Beatles.
And Sally’s path to become a kick-ass radical lefty of the 60s begins…. -Vanessa

I would’ve reacted exactly like Sally did. -Jos

Lane introduces his father to his girlfriend Toni, a black Playboy Bunny. Lane’s father beats him, tells him to return to England.
So we get a season where race stays frustratingly in the background, and then one of our main characters isn’t just dating a black woman, she’s also a Playboy Bunny. I think Lane was trying to rebel a little bit by dating Toni, but it does also seem like they really care about each other. It makes sense to me that Lane would only meet women in places like the Playboy Club. I’m not really sure what Toni sees in Lane, though. I hope Lane comes back from England and we get to see more of their dynamic in the future. Lane’s been such a mature presence in the often childish SCDP office, so seeing him crushed by his abusive father was especially powerful. -Jos

Joan and Roger get a referral for an abortion.
Wow, and Dr. Judgemental was the guy they trusted to get a referral from. I’m glad the Mad Men showed stigma to be a barrier that sits side by side with the lack of legal access to abortion. -Jos

What Jos said. It was also interesting to compare this doctor to Joan’s who was completely supportive and nonjudgmental. -Vanessa

Pete doesn’t tell Trudy about Don’s secret

I’m sorry, what? I didn’t notice anything about this scene except a pink ruffly babydoll nightgown. -Lori

What that was that thing was? Good god, it was terrifying. -Vanessa

I <3 sno balls. -Jos

Don sets up trust funds for his children that Betty can access.
Maybe I am just paranoid/always down for a good conspiracy theory, but I thought Don did this as a sneaky way to be able to access his money in case his identity was found out and he had everything taken from him or wasn’t able to gain access to his bank account. No? -Lori

You know, I didn’t think of that at the time of watching it, but you may have something there. (Although I predict most fans would just assume it’s because he still wuvs her.) -Vanessa

Joan in the abortion provider’s waiting room.
She is so freakin composed, even in the most emotionally intense situations. I think that is one of the most interesting aspects of the kind of femininity her character has come to represent- the unflappability, the unyielding drive to do anything to keep up appearances. In this sense, she and Betty are of the same camp- they were either raised or came to know the social value of being perceived in a certain way at all times. In one sense, this is the key to being “classy” and thus the key to their social influence and power (by association). In another sense, this is their prison, stifling their ability to express themselves, to the point of self-denial. -Lori

Inaccurate assumptions about who has abortions are a big part of how we think about the procedure today. Here Joan’s dealing with the assumption that abortion is a way of dealing with a teen girl’s mistakes – a woman Joan’s age couldn’t make such a mistake, and would want her pregnancy anyway. Did Joan actually go through with the abortion? I don’t know. Even in this scene Joan showed her strength, but the build up of stigmatizing comments from the doctor and well meaning mother could very well inform a decision not to have the procedure. Joan heard judgement from the doctor, assumptions from the mother, and self-centered reactions from Roger. We never saw her talk to anyone who actually prioritized Joan’s own personal decision. -Jos

Don has a panic attack, tells Faye about his past.
I was shocked that he did this, although it’s obvious that he was in a state of panic and felt like he had to out it to someone for some sort of release. But what was more interesting was how once he knew he was in the clear, it looks like it’s the beginning of him pulling him away from her — or at least going back to his old womanizer shenanigans. -Vanessa

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7 Comments

  1. Posted September 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Stuff that happened in this recent episode of “Mad Men”
    1. Sally is a Beatlemaniac! If ya’ll don’t find this radical, you’d best be reading Susan J. Douglas’s brilliant book “Where the Girls Are.” Beatles=Women’s half of the Sexual Revolution and later Women’s Liberation, also the book, “The Feminization of Sex.”
    2. I feel bad for Lane and Toni, they seem so passionate together. It’s hard seeing a very upstanding, mature, and dignified man like Lane get beaten by his father and treated like an abused child (probably what he used to be?).
    3. Dr. Judgemental, I hated him when he gave Peggy her first pill and gyno exam, I dispise him still.
    4. Well, about that pink frothy sack that Trudy was wearing, from what I heard, that back then, pregnant women always wore leg revealing dresses to distract from the large belly. A balance, shall you say. But Trudy, embrace that belly girl!
    5. Wow, Joan is so badassed composed. Has she ever considered working for FEMA?
    6. So the layers of Don Draper are peeling to reveal…Dick Whitman.

  2. Posted September 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Re: Joan potentially giving into the stigma and backing out of the abortion

    They definitely did a lot to draw attention to the stigma surrounding abortion at the time, much of which still exists today, but at the beginning of the season when Joan is talking to her doctor about her fertility they discuss some things in light of “procedures” she had in the past. This wouldn’t be Joan’s first abortion. I think if she decided not to go through with the abortion it would have more to do with her husband (*cough* rapist *cough*) being overseas, his delaying the start of their own family, and her attachment to Roger. I think the pressure on her in this case has far more to do with her personal pressures rather than societal pressure.

    • Posted September 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Apologies for using the word ‘pressure’ three times in one sentence. Whoops.

  3. Posted September 30, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I found this episode to be really difficult to watch. Basically, you have all of the men’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities being revealed, in a society and in a context in which they’re not meant to have vulnerabilities. Roger groveling to Lee Lucky Strikes, Lane being beaten and infantilized by his father, Pete being forced to give up an account he worked on because he’s still less powerful than Don, and Don, well, Don freaking the heck out.

    It seems obvious that Don is going to pull away from anyone who saw him in a moment of weakness, anyone who saw him as he truly is. I saw this whole episode as a critique of masculinity, of masculinity as a facade of strength. And anyone who sees behind the facade, sees it in its falseness, is going to be shut out (e.g. Dr. Faye).

    I didn’t realize Roger’s doctor was the same creepy doctor Peggy saw in the first season! But ugh, yes, the judgment. These episodes do a pretty good job, I think, of showing that making abortion illegal absolutely doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s so normalized in this show. They make it very clear that it’s happening all the time.

    I am seriously loving Mad Men this season. I’m having a hard time waiting a full week in between episodes! (That could be because I’m used to watching almost all shows years later on DVD, when I can binge on them.)

  4. Posted September 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    And is it wrong that I really admire Joan’s composure? Perhaps it’s super old-fashioned of me, although I never saw it that way, but I always strive for composure in public situations. I guess I just think there’s a time and a place for breaking down and making a scene or expressing grievances or being emotional, and that place is rarely the workplace or anywhere in public. It IS classy (are we still allowed to use that word, or is it classist?).

  5. Posted September 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I was clapping when I saw Sally screaming I would have done the same thing!
    On the doctor, it was not the same one that we saw on season one. Either way both were very judgmental.

  6. Posted October 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I thought this whole episode kept touching on fatherhood. You have Joan telling Sterling she’s pregnant. Then Don actually showing that he can be a good father by telling Sally he was taking her to see the Beatles (LOVED the scream and Betty’s smile when she found out why). Then the interactions between Lane and his father. Lane is even carrying a Mickey Mouse and balloons because he thinks his son will also be there. (And as for why Toni is attracted to Lane, she called him “dashing.” He’s an older, rich, Brit and seems to be kind. I could see someone being attracted to that.)

    There was Pete with a very pregnant Trudy and we know Pete’s history with being a father.

    The only mother who had a narrative was Joan. I wonder if she went through with the abortion?

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