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Tag Archives: sexism

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway, The Daily Beast

1. You were my political science professor in undergrad who used to join me for coffee in the Student Union Building before class.  You asked for my phone number and then called my house to ask me out on a date.  I told you that I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that you were my teacher and that I hoped it wouldn’t affect my grade. You never talked to me again.  I earned an A.

2. You were a network executive who sat in a screening and ogled the daughter of one of our main characters in the show.  She was a blond young woman wearing a tank top, and even though she had nothing to do with the story, you joked about how she should get more screen time, especially in the chest area.

3. You were a government employee where I was an intern. You said lascivious things about me to the woman who shared the office. She laughed and said, “cut it out, she’s jailbait!”  You said, “jail would be worth it.”

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Betty (January Jones), Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks), Mad Men, AMC.

Betty (January Jones), Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks), Mad Men, AMC.

The cultural phenomenon Mad Men ends its seven season run tonight May 17 on AMC.
 
Last week the creator, Matthew Weiner, talked about the end of the series on the Nerdist podcast.   For him, at the crux of Mad Men is the idea that everyone wants the life that was promised in the ads – the idyllic expectation of life that is based on a cultural fiction that we’ve all agreed upon.  “In America in particular, the heroic myth is always a myth.”
 
Over the course of the series, one of the most blatant cultural fictions that the women of Mad Men have confronted is the American dream itself.  Hard work both at home and at the office very rarely pays off in the sexist era of the 1960s.  My favorite character by far is also the one I find most tragic: Joan, who bought into the ethos that betrayed her.  Modeling herself on the Marilyn Monroe archetype and attaining the top position in the secretary pool, Joan thought she had her own trajectory figured out, and for as long as the 50s lasted, she did.  

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