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[livejournal.com profile] ashmh  posted in [livejournal.com profile] madmen_tv a link to this blog entry about the women on Mad Men and feminism.

The blogger does a much better job than I did yesterday at describing Betty, Joan, and Peggy. There are a couple of spoilers for S1 & S2--but I think reading the descriptions of the characters are worth it.

Some de-spoiled excerpts:

As you can imagine, the era of happy housewife heroines and consumerism is not portrayed as particularly woman-positive. On the show, the women in the office--most of them typists and secretaries--are routinely objectified by the male ad execs while the wives at home raise the children and have meals prepared for their hard-working men

 
All that said, while Mad Men preserves the chauvinism of the time period (drawn into sharp focus by the fast-paced maculinist work environment of the agency), it's both an intriguing show and showcases some extremely compelling female characters who, sometimes subtly, rise beyond their prescribed gendered roles (even if they aren't exactly feminist by our standards).

On Betty...

Betty Draper (on right) is the stereotypical 1950s housewife, with an edge. She's married to Don Draper, the Creative Director of the Sterling Cooper Ad Agency, and ostensibly divides her time between raising their two children and waiting for Don to come home for dinner (or not). Betty is sharp, sweet and loyal to a fault, at least on the surface.

What's intriguing about Betty is her deep inner life, to which we're only barely privy, the constant sense that there's more to her than we see, that she might just have some card up her sleeve. Moreover, Betty embodies the silencing burden of forced domesticity in way that is both understated and deeply palpable.


On Joan...


Joan Holloway (center) is the Office Manager at Sterling Cooper. She has a lot of power--authority over all the typists and secretaries (and quite a bit of influence over the artists, copywriters and accountants, to boot)--and she knows it.

Joan is not a nice person, but she's a great character--she's smart, manipulative, and bitchy, and those are her good qualities. She probably knows more about what's going on in the office than all three of the top guys (Sterling, Cooper and Draper) combined, and she knows how to use that knowledge to her advantage.


On Peggy...

Peggy is by far my favorite character on the show, and she's probably the most overtly feminist. Don's former secretary-turned-junior-copywriter (a rare job for a woman at Sterling Cooper), Peggy is quiet, fiercely intelligent, and slowly trying to make a name for herself amidst the good ole boys at the agency.


She's a little arrogant, but also unerringly honorable, sometimes to a fault. Her most recent transition, from staid to classy--she glams up in order to get in on the post-pitch celebration at a strip club in the Season 2 ep. "Maidenform"--may not seem very feminist. But I'm not quite sure I'd agree. By joining the guys on their playing field--the frivolous celebration at the strip club--she acquires more, not less, respect professionally, and sets herself up as someone who can work and play on equal footing as her male co-workers.



The blogger then goes on to describe some of the secondary women on the show--the flings of one Don Draper.


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