September 3, 2009

Dissecting Mad Men: Episode 3

Today's episode had lots of great moments from a feminist perspective, but alas, the rule is I only get to dissect one. So, here it goes. I could easily have picked Peggy standing up to her co-workers and insisting they let her join in on their pot-fueled brainstorming. I could also easily have picked Peggy telling her secretary not to worry, that she would succeed. I could also have picked Betty Draper's father's altercation with Carla, and Carla's confident comebacks. I could have picked so many moments, but one that stood out for me this week was Joan telling off her husband as the two of them planned their dinner party.

So, Joan's mediocre doctor rapist husband needs Joan to throw a dinner party to impress his boss, and Joan obliges. Still, Joan does it ON HER TERMS. She's not going to be like Betty Draper, who married a guy who wouldn't even tell her who his parents were or how much money he made last year. Oh no, Joan might have married a date rapist, but she's still asserting herself in their marriage. You see, Joan's husband wants to seat his boss at the head of the table, but Joan says no, Emily Post would not approve of anyone other than the host himself sitting there. Joan's dude says he doesn't care about Emily Post and that he just wants to impress his boss, but Joan points out that the other wives WILL have read Ms. Post and will judge her for not knowing proper protocol. When Joan's husband yells, "I don't want to fight right now," Joan in term says firmly, "Then stop talking." Joan follows this snappy come-back up with her brilliant solution; they'll have a buffet and people can sit wherever they want. Her husband is relieved by her plan, and goes to leave the room, but Joan makes him kiss her first, because she wants what she wants.

I LOVE that join is trying to assert some measure of equality in her marriage. It's not all about being his partner and serving his image; she wants to appear as a good hostess too. Screw her husband's man's world, she wants to excel in women's world too! Joan won't sacrifice everything she wants just to help her husband get chief resident, a job we found out today he is woefully unqualified for, what with his assy surgery skills. So yeah, Joan comes up with the perfect solution for the dinner party herself and it's one that both she and her husband approve of. Joan has agency and won't just give into her spouse's demands. This is progress. Now maybe she'll have an affair, or leave him for someone who hasn't raped her...

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