The Beautiful Girls: Soup

 Posted by on September 20, 2010 at 9:28 am  Matthew Weiner, Season 2, Season 4
Sep 202010
 

I’m going to fault the script of this episode for being too on the nose; Joyce walks in at the end and explains it all for us, in case we hadn’t noticed. In case the title of the episode hadn’t clued us in. In case the final shot of three dissatisfied, confused women hadn’t painted a picture.

Joan, Peggy, Faye-Elevator

AMC

Yet, Joyce’s little “soup” monologue (transcript to follow eventually), on the nose though it was, was a fabulous piece of thinking, and it’s actually a subject that’s been on my mind a lot lately. How we, as women, shape ourselves to the man we’re with, to the men we love, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it, or if we do, we don’t think there’s a problem, or if we don’t do it, we notice that we don’t.

I’m single, and I see this often, within myself, how I’m different when I’m alone, how the presence of a man shifts my focus and I begin to alter myself; everything from what I wear to my sleep cycle. In recent years I’ve made a conscious effort to look at what I want, and yet still I see that there’s an awful lot of attracting a man and then adapting to him, rather than deciding if that’s a desirable adaptation. Wasn’t that the point of the focus group in The Rejected? Those women want to find and keep a man; “a” man, not necessarily a worthwhile one. They want to be pots to male soup.

When I interviewed Matt about Season 2, he talked about Maidenform and “the gaze:”

There’s this thing, it’s called “the gaze” in feminist literature. It’s about the way that men look at women, mostly, and it’s about this process of assigning all these qualities to someone based on looking at them, and then all the information you get just sort of tears away at that, and just sort of erodes the fantasy. I don’t know what the gaze is about, but that’s what it was about to me.

In fact, the “gaze” of feminist theory isn’t about fantasy at all, and that’s fine; a writer gets inspired by an idea, twists it his own way, and goes someplace new. But maybe the idea inspired some further study, because The Beautiful Girls is very much about the gaze and its implication.

Without turning this into a women’s study course (which I am not qualified to teach!) suffice it to say that the gaze, or “the male gaze” has to do with who is looking, and who is being looked at. When a woman’s role is to be gazed at, to be beautiful, she is merely object, never subject. She’s not soup, she’s just the pot. She’s not there to have agency, to be the lead actor in her own story, she’s there to be gazed at by a male who is, of course, a lead player in his own life. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a modern manifestation of the male gaze, so don’t imagine it’s a quaint mid-century notion.

So, the gaze as theory starts out visual, with pictures and films, and we can look at lots of examples, but you can extend the ideas further, into subject and object, into actor and acted-upon, into soup and pot. The title of the episode suggests this right away, The Beautiful Girls, defined by how they look, not who they are (and of course girls, not women, because being objectified is infantalizing).

The clearest example of the objectification of a woman in this episode is the one who becomes an actual object; Ida Blankenship. She is explicitly a thing—a body—but it turns out she was so much “pot” that even Roger and Bert, who’d known her for decades, had no idea how to describe her. It took another objectified woman to come up with the answer, and it was still a description dependent upon (male) others; “loyal” is not a quality in isolation, after all.

But virtually every woman here is another object, another example of pot versus soup.

Faye protests too much when she says she doesn’t feel she’s a failure. She’s so aware of Don’s gaze that she’s responding to things he didn’t say; his genuine emergency, his genuine floundering, is interpreted by her as a demand that she be mother material (and no one has ever been as comically bad with kids as “Hi, I’m Faye!” Miller). Last week we learned she doesn’t cook; she’s angry about male attempts to mold her into a “normal” woman, and maybe she’s taking a preemptive strike at Don.

But Don is the counterpart to all this; he’s the soup and he’s utterly helpless without some woman to contain and shape him. Manage his own daughter? OH NO! He cannot tolerate five minutes without a secretary, even under the direst of circumstances; someone female must fill in, and even though Faye has no qualifications, even though her profession removes her from secretaries and her relationship removes her from mothering, she is female, she’s a “Beautiful Girl,” so she’ll have to do.

Peggy is being acted upon by Abe, who wants to turn her into the object of his political theories, just as Mark wanted to turn her into the object of his idea of the good girlfriend; the virgin and the obedient daughter.

Joan’s response is perhaps the most complicated, she’s an expert in being the object of male gaze; it’s been her career, her lifestyle, and her greatest talent. Her super-competence is based on knowing what others need and how to fulfill it, she’s the ultimate pot for any soup.

We learn in this episode that Roger’s overtures have become more frequent and more obvious, yet he doesn’t know what’s going on in Joan’s life until another secretary, another “object,” tells him. Roger clearly objectifies her; he wants her to the exclusion of paying attention to her. But it’s not so simple; he does pay attention to her, or wants to; the massage is actually incredibly thoughtful and attentive. It required him thinking for himself (she’s teased him about that in the past), making the arrangements himself (I doubt this was something he’d let Caroline in on) and knowing what would really make her feel good.

Watching Peggy and Joan live with the experience of being “the pot” and reacting to it is a continuation of their confrontation in the elevator last week. Joan wants a subtle, feminine response that is effective yet stays within the system, while Peggy wants to use her real voice and say what’s wrong and not stand for it. (And by the way, Abe’s mockery of “civil rights for women” is historically accurate.) Yet Peggy, for all her strength, isn’t sure if she’s angry or lovesick; most people can’t just throw away the gender rules, Peggy really isn’t sure.

Sally just isn’t having it. She’s the upcoming Woodstock Generation, and more, she’s second wave feminism with jet fuel. She wants to make her own choices for her own reasons and she wants to understand what other people’s reasons are. Her own subjectivity matters to her; she refuses to be just an object to her parents.

The younger you get in this episode, the less interested you are in being subjected to the male gaze. Ida was utterly in its thrall, Joan is largely controlled by it, Faye objects but too loudly, Peggy fights back, and Sally runs away, screams No! and physically fights (but to fight is to fall). The season’s theme of changing generations persists.

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  112 Responses to “The Beautiful Girls: Soup”

  1. Some quibbles with this episode:

    1. Could Betty really have been so unconcerned/fed up re:Sally?
    2. Is it plausible that Don could be so clueless and superficial in his emotional interactions with Sally? That he would not ask her to describe what is wrong at home? And talk about it with her? Not hug her? Is he that much of a schmuck? I’m sorry, even my not-hands-on 60s sales executive Dad would have given me a hug if I fell.
    3. That Joan would be so eager and easy after the prince rescues her?
    4. Would Peggy really have feelings for a guy who, while earnest, smart and well-intentioned, is just as clueless about the struggles of women as Stan? What’s the appeal?
    5. Would Faye really have been THAT stupid with a child she’d just spent an afternoon getting to know the day before?

    But Blankenship — now she had her shit together. What she said to Peggy — you’re either a sadist or a masochist in this business — I hope Peggy gives that some serious thought!

  2. My 1960′s TV anchor dad would NOT have hugged me…especially at the TV station!!! In front of people.

  3. My 1960s blue-collar business-owner (auto body repair) would not hug me, nor any of my 5 sisters, in *private* much less in public. We only knew we were loved when he’d take us places to spend time with him – working on his boat with him, going to the hardware store. Actually, those are great memories…

  4. @1 jzzy55-I don’t think Faye really got to know Sally during the afternoon. They probably just watched TV. Don didn’t hug Sally because he was work, and that wouldn’t have been right, at least in his mind. Peggy had feelings for Abe before she knew he was a pig. Now that she knows, she’s not sure how she feels about him.

    Sally is going to be the most radical feminist on the, just give it another decade. She is going to be tough in the corporate world.

  5. #1. Absolutely. Betty can be that clueless because she is a narcissist. Just ask anybody who grew up with a narcissist; everything is about them. Betty is angry about Sally’s refusal to just mold herself into Betty’s dream life. Sally’s needs have nothing to do with anything.
    #2. Yes as well.
    #3. Good point.
    #4. Yes, I think so. I think just about every woman has had feelings for a well-intentioned but clueless guy. I bet the same can be said for men. After all, the ways of the heart are unfathomable, no?
    #5. I don’t know but I clearly remember being a smart 10 year old and having adults talk to me like that. Well, except for the “remember me from yesterday” line, everything else rang true. Lots of adults just don’t know how to handle a bright child. And lots of adults are guilty of using that overly bright, ultra-fake cheery tone when addressing kids.

  6. My physician father would not have hugged me with collegues around, nor would he have explained to me why I couldn’t do something, just that I couldn’t. He was exactly Don’s age in ’65 and still of the ‘old school’ in taht his love for us was shown by the life he provided. My Mother, who was 7 years younger than Dad probably would have reacted in public exactly as Betty did, quiet statement of concern for my safety, but all hell would’ve broken loose when we got home. Decorum at all times.

    Don’s statement at Mrs. Bs death, “Poor thing” was the only quasi-personal reflection made at her passing just to emphasize the objectification.

  7. My 1960′s dad definitely would have hugged me after a fall, but he knew me as a person, and actually liked me, rather than just loved me as his child. But his parenting child was considered less than typical at the time. I knew plenty of dads then who would have gotten totally freaked and grabbed the nearest female to bail him out, and been angry, to boot.

  8. I was with Sally all the way in this episode. My mother remarried when I was 9 and the automatic assumption was that my sister and I would just accept everything (new father, new family, new country, etc.) without any quibbling, as if we were putting on new dresses instead of undergoing a huge and shocking change. Any acting out on our part was handled exactly the way that it was in this episode. I thought Matt Weiner et all did an amazing job with capturing how adults of an earlier era would’ve reacted to a child acting out (and I grew up in the 70s and 80s). Ime, once upon a time, adults were utterly clueless about divorce and remarriage and its effects on children.

  9. I actually got confused by what MW said about the show, and Joyce’s metaphor.

    MW says it’s about how “women define men” (“want women to define them?”)

    Joyce says men want women to be pots to “they heat [men] up, hold them, contain them”

    Roger says to Joan “All the good stuff was with you.” And then Joan is turned on by Roger’s competent management of the mugging.

    Abe tries to fit Peggy into a box so that he can know how to please her, act for her.

    Peggy was very pleased when Don took the decision about racism away from her.

    So, maybe it’s: Men objectify women so that they (men) can have clearly defined roles, so that they know what to do, how to act. Men objectify so they can be objectified.

  10. And Sally keeps trying to “be good”, to fulfill a role, to please Don…so that Don will do what Sally wants, rescue her from Betty.

    Either MW ain’t that great at feminism, or this is Feminism 102 or 201.One step past the “male gaze.”

  11. As a child of the 60′s, I cannot remember a time when either my mother or father ever hugged us or told us they loved us. I never saw affection between my parents, either. Nor did I ever see affection from any of my friends’ parents toward their children. I guess that parents thought they were good parents by providing comfortable homes, food and nice clothes.
    As a parent and grandparent myself now, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t tell my children and grandchildren I love them.

  12. Re “Abe’s mockery of “civil rights for women” is historically accurate” — Yes, indeedy! I’m sure it is. It can take a long, L-O-N-G time for many people to realize that EVERYONE deserves equal rights: http://www.gocomics.com/tonyauth/2009/11/06/

  13. I admit to having a problem understanding the soup metaphor. I kept thinking about soup before I actually listened to Joyce’s explanation. But I can see how it’s a good explanation of Don’s behavior, especially vis a vis, women and emotions. He keeps expecting women to contain and manage those emotions. The show has been very consistent in depicting Don’s helplessness in the face of strong emotions. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he expects women to be able to handle these emotional moments better than he. I identified with Sally in this episode but there were moments in my life when I was Don as well (although maybe not with children). From the outside we can see how clueless Betty and Don are as parents but haven’t we often been clueless ourselves in relationships? Relationships are hard, be they amorous or parental, because they require imagination and the ability to detach from one’s own intense emotions. Neither Betty nor Don were shown much affection or thoughtfulness as children; how can we expect them to know better if they themselves are so needy?

  14. Great post, thanks yet again. I just love the last paragraph – the younger the character, the more they fight this restriction. I also think it’s interesting that the younger generations are most confronted by other women – it’s Betty who shuts down Sally (though there’s a parent thing there too), and Joan works on Peggy. Peggy regularly tries to explain her position to men, but she doesn’t even try with other women.

  15. We have come a long way in one respect: I was able to compare James Badge Dale and Jon Hamm without their shirts on (I’m giving it to JBD). The “female gaze” is much more accepted nowadays. I wonder how men feel about that?

    Great post, Deb. I do love how this show deals with women’s issues.

  16. It’s funny, but by watching this show I realize how much I now know about my parents, who are both deceased. They would have been around the same age as Joan, Don, and Betty.

  17. 1. Betty feels like Ossining is a prison. Where once she resented Don for being her jailer, now she resents him for escaping. As we saw last week, everything else is in second place (at best).

    2. Don has been shown to be pretty clueless when confronted with emotionalism in the past. His passivity with Sally was consistent with that. After Don finally noticing things last episode and dealing with them, it is nice to see him flabbergasted by new information.

    3. That struck me as too quick, MW always said that he doubted fans would be satisfied by a return to Roger & Joan. It seems that he was right.

    4. People make bad romantic choices based on chemistry all the time. Peggy and Abe have that.

    5. Dr. Faye does not like or want kids.

  18. Did anyone notice that Roger and Burt, the two men closest to Ida Blankenship, could not come up with appropriate tributes for her obituary? They had to summon a woman to help them out.

    BTW, I loved Burt’s comment, “She was an astronaut!”

  19. What didn’t make any sense was why Joyce (the lesbian) would spend ANY time defining what men want in women. She certainly should care less… because it isn’t THAT part of men that made her turn to women… she likely was tuned into women for as long as she could remember. Joyce spend WAY too much time yakking about the soup stuff… she more realistically would have been spending all that time romancing up to Peggy (if she feels she still has a chance).

  20. I’d missed it in the original interview, but MW’s total lack of understanding of the concept of the “male gaze” made me laugh. He wasn’t so much “twisting it his own way,” as you so generously put it, Deborah, but completely missing the point. Total fail.

  21. I’m pretty sure Sally will die around 1972 or 1973, from a drug overdose.

  22. @jzzy55
    **1. Could Betty really have been so unconcerned/fed up re:Sally?**

    When people are embarrassed, they act as if they didn’t care in the first place. She turned her embarrassment into anger which is her go-to emotion.

    **2. Is it plausible that Don could be so clueless and superficial in his emotional interactions with Sally? That he would not ask her to describe what is wrong at home? And talk about it with her? Not hug her? Is he that much of a schmuck? I’m sorry, even my not-hands-on 60s sales executive Dad would have given me a hug if I fell.**

    The response to people who see Don as a great father has always been a variation on this. It’s easy to be a good dad when all you have to do is be handsome and kiss their just bathed little foreheads.

    He, too, in this scenario is embarrassed and out of his league. When kids fall, everything freezes for a moment, and then the person or people who unfreeze first are usually the ones who identify as care-givers. (That really CAN be a dad too.) Don is more financial support and Good Time Charlie. He can comfort his kids, we know it, but it’s not where he has his most experience. In this, Betty was not wrong.

    **3. That Joan would be so eager and easy after the prince rescues her?**

    I think this was contrived. However, people do react that way in those situations. If they were single, I wouldn’t think of it twice.

    **4. Would Peggy really have feelings for a guy who, while earnest, smart and well-intentioned, is just as clueless about the struggles of women as Stan? What’s the appeal?**

    Earnest, smart, and well-intentioned are not little things. And the arguing? That could rev her engine. I mean, she does have a history with, um — have you met Pete Campbell?

    **5. Would Faye really have been THAT stupid with a child she’d just spent an afternoon getting to know the day before?**

    She’d met relatively subdued Sally who was worried about being in trouble. The Sally who suspected that did not know that Faye and Don might be dating. Tantrum Sally was a completely different ball of wax. Also, Don had tried to play it down but did tip his hand about Faye and so you don’t send a woman who had just been cast as a mommy in to tell a child that she has to do things she doesn’t want to do — like do back to her real mommy. Sally ended up in the arms of a brunette who only offered comfort and that’s who she clung to.

    **But Blankenship — now she had her shit together. What she said to Peggy — you’re either a sadist or a masochist in this business — I hope Peggy gives that some serious thought!**

    Yep.

  23. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cantara Christopher, pcstokell. pcstokell said: reads more of the #BasketofKisses blog and get walloped with feminist film theory. On a Monday. God help me! http://bit.ly/9Ys9Mu [...]

  24. I was raised by a single mother who worked in the 1960′s. She faced widowhood at 33 with two kids to raise. Her family wanted her to re-marry and she chose instead to return to work. She was college educated and was able to find a reasonably well paying job. A constant challenge was to provide for your children and find happiness in your personal life. It was a delicate balance, and it has only been since I have become an adult that I really understand what she went through.I have huge empathy for Sally. Don only wants to see her when it is convienent to him. Betty was all about how she would be perceived,and don’t embarrass me!Deborah, I argee with your last two paragraphs, and I hope Sally makes it to Woodstock. I fear sadly she may end up like Janis Joplin. I wish Matt Weiner can hear Sally scream so loud his ears hurt!

  25. I’ve never wondered why men can’t help but fix their gaze on “Beautiful Girls” or why those same girls make themselves easy to look at. I think those tendencies go back to the beginning of time and let’s face it, we define ourselves in large part based on what other people to think about us. That’s why Joan would be disappointed if Roger wasn’t constantly pursuing her (she certainly has little time for those who don’t admire her physical charms). It’s why Peggy can’t reconcile being identified with Abe and his “radical” ideas (she won’t even consider she may be a tool in the Madison Avenue brainwashing of America). It’s why Faye may be the best fit for Don as she does not want to be what she isn’t just to be with him (and yet she seems to need to explain that). And ultimately it’s why Betty is so bitter, she has come to the realization that she defined herself around Don and he wasn’t who he claimed to be. I guess you could say Joan is a hot pot, Peggy could use a hit of pot, Faye is not a pot, and Betty is a crackpot.

  26. @#1jzzy:

    “3. That Joan would be so eager and easy after the prince rescues her?”

    But that interprets Joan’s action as responding to what Roger wanted. Roger himself interpreted it that way with his apology. When it seems pretty clear to me that it was about what SHE wanted. It wasn’t about pleasing a man. Which is, ironically, what this entire post is about.

  27. Did anyone comment on the fact that Megan was wearing a bright yellow dress exactly the color a child would use to draw the SUN? Megan is the one who really gets the hobo to take off his coat. I know it

  28. Maybe I’m late to this party, but did anyone else notice that Miss Blankenship was already dead when Don reentered that meeting? He leaves his office, says “I don’t want to hear it”, (the camera does NOT show Ida), and as he goes back in the phone just keeps ringing and ringing…

    I love this blog. :)

  29. #28, Sarahyakat, yes people have commented about this already. Good catch though. I missed it completely due to background (eg family, the nerve!) noise. I don’t watch twice but I may have to with this episode.

    Forgot to say this was a good post, DL. I had forgotten about phrase “the male gaze.” But not the idea and the rage it provokes.

    Guess I’m lucky that my dad worked in a family business, and an “ethnic” one at that. Hugs allowed. I can so imagine the secretaries (who all worked there forever and pretty much ruled, though not in a Joan way that I know of) giving any man who didn’t rush to hug his crying daughter the evil eye, and maybe coffee with a hair in it the next day.

    My father was actually more emotionally giving, when he was around, than my mother, come to think of it! As another poster said, MM does make you think about your own childhood and parents if you’re Sally’s age.

  30. Great post. Deb. I thought the Joyce’s analogy of Men to Soup as Women are to the Pot was very interesting, I just don’t know what women can do about it – neither does, Peggy, or Faye or Joan for that matter. It’s just a good thing, as Joyce said, there is some interesting soup out there.

  31. Sally can’t be at Woodstock unless she really matures early – she’s ten right now (1965), and will be fourteen when it takes place (1969). She can definitely rock out to some 1970′s fun though.

  32. Somewhat off-topic, but my favourite throwaway line was from Abe, sitting in the bar with Peggy, when he said, ‘I could have found out where you live, but that’s creepy.’ There’s a one-second flash of recognition on Peggy’s face, and then a relieved smile. Did anyone else think of Pete showing up drunk at Peggy’s apartment in Season 1?

  33. @#18
    Joan comes up with a glib set of phrases for someone she hardly or cared about.

    Roger comes up with a glib joke.

    Bert has that in him that passes show and can’t speak–and then sums the unimaginable span of her life–born into a setting undistinguishable from the 16th century, and probably on another continent, to see the age of men in space.
    Hope I could do as well for a friend.

  34. A small defense of Roger.

    The ep makes clear that he doesn’t know what’s going on with Joan & Greg because (a) Joan isn’t telling him, because (b) Gregg doesn’t want her to (or so she said). So regardless of interest, realistically, he’s probably only going to hear about Joan indirectly from Caroline (Roger would not be so indiscreet as to ask someone other than his own secretary).

    That being said, Roger remains Roger, which pretty much validates the rest of what Deborah wrote about him.

    Even so, I think it could be argued that Jane is the woman Roger really objectifies, and that Roger respects Joan more as a person than he does Jane. Maybe that’s faint praise, but there it is.

  35. BTW, in the DVD commentary for Maidenform, Matt Weiner offered up yet another twist on “the gaze.” In that particular ep., he used the phrase to describe the sort of unknowing adoration Sally gave Don (at the country club and in the bathroom) and Chauncey gave Duck (in the office where Duck almost snuck a drink) — gazes that made the respective men quite uncomfortable.

    The version he mentioned to Deborah, is one that popped up a few times in S2 — Betty descending the stairs on Valentine’s Day, Joy’s similar slo-mo in The Jet Set, etc.

  36. @#27

    I thought the same thing when watching it last night. Megan was so warm and emotionally connected to Sally. And there was a flicker of a moment between her and Don, right?

  37. I think Sally will grow up being infatuated with older men like her dad, leave the suburbs behind forever, and party at Studio 54!! If she survives a coke addiction (which I hope she won’t have long), she’ll do something creative, from artist to actress to director!

    2 great lines I haven’t seen mentioned (besides Mrs. Blankenship’s S/M line and Bert’s ‘she was an astronaut’) were Don’s dismissal of the woman who brough Sally to the office – - “I thanked you and offered you money!” and Roger’s obituary to Joan of Mrs. Balnkenship – - “She died surrounded by the people she typed for.”

  38. Off topic, but bugging me. What creeps me out is WHY Sally is not just being bratty, but down right adamant, almost fearful, about not going home. A self absorbed mother, new step-father, the way she acts out sexually (prematurely…c’mon she’s 10!) smacks of something even more sinister that was never talked about in the sixties.

  39. @#17 Dean re “Betty feels like Ossining is a prison.” I totally agree, and I feel like a total doofus for only just now realizing the obvious symbolism of MW having chosen Ossining — home of Sing Sing! — for the location Drapers’ suburban nest.

  40. Should have read: “for the location OF THE Drapers’ suburban nest.”

  41. @#28 Sarayakat — I agree with you that Miss Blankenship is meant to be dead when Don looks at her and says, “I don’t want to hear it.” Remember how Peggy found her? With her mouth open, seemingly about to zing another one-liner? Wow!! That’s a new non-observant low for Don Draper!

  42. I don’t think Joan was being “eager and easy after the prince saved her.”

    Simple eros/thanatos in my opinion. Their lives were threatened, at gunpoint, during the mugging – certainly adrenaline was pumping like crazy. Given that both were in really vulnerable emotional states (Ida’s death, the possibility Sterling’s Gold can’t find a publisher, Greg shipping off, the Joey crap, losing her ring), it didn’t really seem surprising where their fight-or-flight energy got channeled, at all.

  43. Nobody hugged till the 1970s.

  44. # 19 – Mark B:

    “Joyce spen(t) WAY too much time yakking about the soup stuff… she more realistically would have been spending all that time romancing up to Peggy (if she feels she still has a chance).”

    Joyce readily yielded to Abe at the bar (going to “shoot darts”) – this may mean she feels she has little chance.

    OTOH, perhaps the soup/pot stuff was a subtle way to gain/give sympathy/understanding – Joyce, with-a-chance, going slow.

    No real insight here – just speculating.

    I was charmed by the Peggy/Joyce/Rizzo scene. He was more of a good-natured teaser than an a$$hole and Peggy seemed pleased by that lick.

    She got most of the attention in that scene.

  45. Megan and Don will be married by season’s end – They look like a match.

  46. 31:12-15 yr old girls were heading to the Minnesota Strip in LA as early as 1967,1968.

    39:Yeah.

  47. #19, #45: Joyce may have set up the meeting between Abe and Peggy in the bar. Peggy seemed to take it as a setup when Abe explained why he hadn’t been to her office or home, and then when Joyce comes to see her at the end, she declines going out that evening again because she didn’t really want Joyce “pulling another surprise on [her]” (something like that), which Joyce acknowledged, saying “Oh well, Abe pulled a boner”.

  48. Great post. “The Gaze” definitely takes me back to my minor in Women’s Studies. I agree 100% about Sally not having any of it. She is the one demanding honesty and answers and Don’s so uncomfortable with this, he can’t be around it.

    #1 in regard to Peggy and the guy who’s clueless about women’s struggles at the time, I thought it very on mark of the show to pinpoint this. A lot of stuff in the women’s movement began to manifest because women who were working along side guys in the “movement” such as the SDS, etc., were relegated to only helping roles like typing, making food, etc. While everyone was angry about the establishment and civil rights, many of these (mostly white) college educated women began to realize, as Peggy pointed out, that their role wasn’t much better, in many regards, than the people they were protesting for. The guys were still expecting a complacent mother and wife.

  49. I doubt that Joyce came out of the box as a lesbian, no matter her sexual inclinations.

    Like most women in that period, she would have spent time, energy and her younger years dating men, and analyzing those relationships from the outside.

    There was no acceptance socially or in the media for lesbianism (or homosexuality.)

    Joyce may seem to be assured in the here and now of 1965 (and I’ve argued before that the way Joyce is portrayed in Mad Man is more the ’70s version of gay.)

    But she would have dated men all through high school, and perhaps even some of college, where she would have been expected to be a pot to the man soup.

    Joyce even says as much, “In my experience…”

  50. This from the last weeks episode when Don writes in his journal:

    Don Draper: She’s a sweet girl and she wants me to know her, but I already do. People tell you who they are but we ignore it, because we want them to be who we want them to be.

    See, I thought Don scrolling his emotions in a notepad was a shark jumping moment but blam, it may just be the mother of insight to the rest of this and next season.

    p.s.
    Where are they going with Joyce and I hate Rizzo.

    We shall see.

  51. #39 I don’t think she’s acting out sexually. Little girls masturbate starting much younger…. some around 4 or 5. Many times, a stressful situation makes them “feel funny” down there and they rub it and *boom*. The TV clip she was watching at her friends house showed the men being tied up which is a stressful situation. It happens.

    Had she tried to, say, come on to someone, that’s sexual.

  52. My mom and dad hugged me when I was Sally’s age, but then they were second generation Europeans, not WASPs from the midwest. Don doesn’t know how to show his daughter affection because he never got any affection from his own father, ie he had no role model. That in addition that it was not common for parent’s to show too much affection for their kids at that time, and thus “spoil them”. As far as Don sending Sally back to her mother, in the 60′s kids were “woman’s concerns”. We see it as a lack of affection now because of the way people coddle their kids, but back then that’s the way people behaved. We see the 60′s through rose colored glasses but it was a rough time to be alive. I was Sally’s age in 1965 and I went through it all. At 9 yrs old I said I wouldn’t change my last name when I got married and I never did! (was married 19 yrs last week). I was considered a “rebel” by my mother who was much like the Joan character -although she worked in my dad’s store and not in an office. She was pretty, busty and always put together, and altogether the female of the era.

  53. @27 I agree! I kept noticing the dress but didn’t make the connection. Faye is the wind of course. Blankenship said “it’s hard the way she breezes pat me. She’s pushy, that one.” She wears a lot of yellow this episode, but not that bright yellow. I guess she’s trying to be that pot.

  54. #s 31 and 51 I think there is something to Sally acting out sexually. I don’t think it’s anything to do with Betty (who we’ve seen has no problem smacking and slapping her hard in the face) or her step-dad, who seems like a genuine good guy (aside from starting a romance with a married woman). What happened when Sally was with the very creepy neighborhood boy who used to follow around Betty all the time? I remember him bringing up sex with her (Sally) this season, and suggesting the connection between sex and the reason parents divorce and remarry. Masturbation is normal, but doing it at 10 in front of other people feels strange.

  55. I could probably count how many times my immigrant Jewish parents have actually said “I love you” on one hand (and have fingers left over).
    ANd yet I KNOW that they do. Their attitude towards me, how they speak to me, how they pay attention, how they LISTEN, leaves me with no doubts.

    Don, your eldest not just runs away, but runs away to you, and you don’t even ask what’s wrong? Betty, your daughter takes off and you don’t go pick her up until it’s convenient for you?

    I feel so bad for Sally, cuz she KNOWS that she is unimportant to both her parents.

    “Everything will be all right.”
    “No, it won’t.”
    To be THAT honest with a total stranger? That’s pain.

  56. Something else to consider – - – on tv there are more than a few shows with single fathers, and what does Sally do most of the time? Bachelor Father, My Three Sons, the Rifleman, Bonanza, and I’m not sure when Family Affair started. Sally has precedents for wanting to stay with her dad.

  57. Dancewosleeping — agreed. Mine weren’t verbally demonstrative but they were defintely interested in us kids. Who gives a crap about Sally unless she’s misbehaving? It’s a shame the kid doesn’t have any extended family (anymore) to provide the attentive “adult gaze” (if you will) that neither of her messed-up, self-involved parents do. No wonder Grandpa Gene’s death was the blow that did her in. He CARED. He put in more than face time.

    The most messed up girls of my generation didn’t go all hippie/druggie. They got facelifts and nosejobs and blew out their hair and found husbands who were complete rats and losers.

  58. In Don’s office, waiting for Betty, Sally is reading a Nancy Drew mystery, wherein Nancy lives with and takes care of her single father – just like Sally tried to do with the French toast. That’s where she gets the idea, it’s exactly how I saw Nancy Drew and how I thought I wanted my life to be on the Sixties.

  59. Doesn’t Nancy Drew also have a “Negro” housekeeper, stereotypically drawn?

  60. This was a great episode and a great post. I LOVE this site — so provocative and I so look forward to seeing them on Mondays! I had a couple of thoughts as I was watching the episode, which I’ll break into two separate comments.

    One was that Peggy, whom I like a great deal and root for every week, was so incredibly naive in likening her own privileged, albeit difficult, situation to that of the “Negroes” she is discussing with Abe. Both are off base. Abe is self-righteous, but doesn’t seem to have dug very deep, unless I missed something in an earlier episode, which I may have. Based on last night’s episode, he instead seems to enjoy spouting platitudes and shaking up “the establishment” but doesn’t seem to have a genuine plan of action or to be sincerely fighting for change. He seems sincerely surprised by Peggy’s reaction to his draft, even though he risks nothing and she is the one who stands to get fired if it gets out. I was left wondering if he will walk the walk when the time comes.

    Meanwhile Peggy is “sure” that there are Negroes who can accomplish what she has and seems to think all it would take is for them to work as hard as she does and that opportunity will follow. What she overlooks is that while she is in her office building in the North being given the power to fire a man who tried to oppress her and another woman, the people she is discussing and likening herself to when talking to Abe are literally being hosed down and having police dogs turned on them in the streets in the South, all with the full weight of the law on their side. No way is she in the same situation as someone being jailed, beaten or killed for fighting for the right of black people to have a sandwich at a lunch counter or to go to school.

    While her strictures as a woman are many, at least she has a voice in the room, even if it is faint, and the closest she will come to being locked up is if she gets caught up in a raid again at another underground club, which was, as we recall, an exhilerating, freeing experience that she laughed about and that thrilled her once she escaped.

    My grandparents and my parents lived through racial segregation and fear for their lives in SC, and having heard their personal and painful stories and having lived my own, I get particularly riled by lazy analogies made between the plight of African-Americans in the U.S. and the struggle women have had and continue to have to attain true equality. The oppression experienced by these different groups — both then and now — is totally different in kind, not merely degree.

    If anything, Peggy hit the nail on the head unwittingly and her comments constituted foreshadowing when she mentioned the need for civil rights for women, because during that era many white women fighting for racial equality realized (as someone posted above) that they could and should gain momentum in their fight for equality in their own right.

    Peggy’s comments reminded me of Betty’s reaction as she and Carla watched t.v. coverage, where it was clear Betty still just didn’t get it. Carla is literally in Betty’s house, knows her personal business, takes care of her children every day and seems to love and care and to be concerned about them in a way we never really see from Betty. Still, Carla’s humanity was seemingly lost on Betty as she watched the news coverage with a clinical detachment afforded by white privilege, money and social status.

    I look forward to seeing how Peggy deals with this unfolding history as it continues to shape her world, as well as the market and demographic she will have to reach and the people around her.

  61. Wonderful, ruminative post, Deb.

    “The male gaze”: that takes me back. Feminist literary theory was what we called it, but the material was the same. And while I do see all these women react to it, I see their differences, well, differently.

    I think Joan has worked to attain the position she has — as Ida did before her. Now she struggles to maintain it. (The fact that we never saw either really interact with Faye is indicative of something here.) These are women who want to work with men in a certain way: on men’s terms, if you like. These women are closer to Betty Draper Francis than they are to any other woman that we see with any frequency on the show; but they are not really like her, either.

    These are women who grew up defined by men, in a certain, indelible way. Peggy just isn’t like this. Look at her family. Go back to “The Suitcase”; listen to her talk about her dad, again. She reached her teens without one. This makes a difference.

    To Peggy, to Joyce, more is possible for a “girl”. And as a female viewer, I get a sense of possibility from these women. I get a sense that they grew up in homes where they were not just invited but expected to fill roles that were not traditionally female.

    And from Megan, I definitely get a sense of hope. “I fall all the time”: as if failure is fine, perfection is still a long way down Sally’s long, youthful road, and she’s got all the time in the world to get there.

    Let’s not forget: Sally is not defining herself as a woman yet. She’s a minor, a child. For her, the struggle of Sunday night was I’m not going back there. It was the swarming hopelessness of being a child, and not getting a choice in where you have to live, with which sucky parent.

    Childhood should not feel like that. It should feel the way it felt to Sally, for a few seconds, in Megan’s arms.

  62. My second observation was that in the scene between Faye and Sally in Don’s office, Sally was sitting there in Don’s chair and behind his desk, confident and matter-of-fact, a little bit cocky. She was definitely the one with the power in that room and she knew it. Faye stood there on the other side of the desk, totally off her game, uncertain and uncomfortable. She looked like she was being interviewed, judged or had been call in to be chastised by a superior. I loved the way the camera moved to give you that shot with their profiles, with Faye wearing that stiff smile and Sally just returning her gaze, calmly and wholly at ease. That little girl looked formidable in that scene.

    I like Faye and although I think she is different than the other women Don has been with, last night made clear that he needs a female to take charge of his life and his children — I don’t think Faye will be the one to do that. I just wonder if that wil be her choice and not Don’s.

  63. I thought the soup metaphor was very convoluted. I get it, but it was clunky.

    I was around Sally’s age & my parents and aunts and uncles did hug us in public. Very demonstrative. We were also told “I love you” frequently. The adults were older than most, but not all, of my friends’ parents (Depression era). I think my family was more demonstrative than others. So-called “uprtight WASPs”, too. Go figure.

    Sally’s mood swings seemed a little quick. One minute she seemed okay, if pensive; the next minute freaking out. She is clearly more afraid of Betty than Sally. She wouldn’ t have acted out like that in front of Betty.

  64. Meanwhile Peggy is “sure” that there are Negroes who can accomplish what she has and seems to think all it would take is for them to work as hard as she does and that opportunity will follow. What she overlooks is that while she is in her office building in the North being given the power to fire a man who tried to oppress her and another woman, the people she is discussing and likening herself to when talking to Abe are literally being hosed down and having police dogs turned on them in the streets in the South, all with the full weight of the law on their side.

    You know, I don’t think there’s any value in playing Oppression Olympics, and seeing who gets the gold for worst oppression and who merely takes home the bronze.

    The analogy to what’s going on in the South doesn’t apply here. Peggy appears to be aware of, and horrified by, what’s going on in the South. Many New Yorkers, though, didn’t see it as applying to them, to the North, and didn’t see the racism around them in the same way.

    When Abe says there are no Negro copywriters (he’s wrong, as Roger noted in S2 that BBDO had just hired one), Peggy rightly points out there had also been no women copywriters. Those two paths (woman/black copywriter) were probably very similar in terms of oppression, opportunity, and unwelcomeness.

    Peggy may be clueless about all kinds of aspects of racial struggle, but that one she had right.

  65. Great post–I took a Women in Film class in college and I remember we talked about “object of the gaze.” It was a big thing in a lot of the movies we watched. And I agree, some of this episode was a little too “on the nose.”

    I also feel that lately MM is a little too much Sally for my taste, but that’s just me.

  66. One of Miss Blankenship’s last lines, describing Faye, seems rather poignant, as if she’s coming to a final realization: “She’s pushy. I guess that’s what it takes.”

  67. Re Joyce delivering the final homily: I took it as the only way for it to come from a neutral objective source. Joyce is the only one who doesn’t have to struggle with what goes on between men and women.

  68. My family hugged and was Middle West WASPs from the Depression era.
    My extended family was warm and huggy, in public, to. So much for the “uptight WASP from the Midwest” stereotype. Sheesh.

  69. I gotta say, no, masturbation at 10 is not premature for a girl and it is not necessarily indicative of sexual abuse. I’m bothered every time I see that implied re: Sally.

  70. Interesting that there has been so little commentary about Megan. Notwithstanding the clear symbol of her in golden yellow when she rescues Sally.

    Every time she appears, we learn a bit more about her. She is so model-gorgeous, I spotted her weeks ago and wondered when she would be moving more to the forefront.

    She seems young to be a candidate for the next Mrs. Draper, but appears to have some wisdom beyond her years. My impression, without going back and reviewing her scenes, is that she is kind and tactful and thoughtful. She displays confidence and a sense of professionalism. She has class and charm. A kind of younger Joan, in dress too, though more updated. Prettier than Jane and genuinely sweeter.

    She is not officially Don’s secretary – or will she now be promoted from receptionist to that role and become Don’s next office wife? Will we see a different outcome to a boss/secretary affair?

    Would love to hear others impressions and predictions for her ongoing story.

  71. Nancy Drew did not have a Negro housekeeper; her name was Hannah Gruen and she was a middle-aged or elderly white woman.

  72. Megan’s, “I fall all the time” was exactly in line with modern caregiving technique, where care givers intentionally make mistakes, to allow children to forgive themselves and others.

  73. @ 72′ jaz, oooh, Hannah Gruen, thank you so much for remembering her.

  74. decogirl – I agree about Megan. I noticed her (and I’m sure a lot of other people did too) in “Christmas” when Joan called her by name. She was clearly not meant to be a nameless secretary. Did you see her grinding her teeth after Don thanked her for helping out with Sally? I had the impression she related to Sally somehow. Also, when Joan asked Why Sally was in Don’s office, I loved how Megan easily said “she’s visiting”. It made me think she really understood why Sally was there. Personally, I don’t think she and Don are going to get married. I have the feeling that Megan has successfully survived a similar situation to Sally’s, and it would be back-tracking for her to get back into something like that. I could be completely wrong and I actually hope I am! Also, I think Sally asking about Don getting remarried might indicate that she’s interested in whether a new stepmother might give her an “in” to living with her dad again. With a woman in the house to do the mothering, he would be more likely to have her live with him. Wouldn’t Megan be a fabulous step-mom? Add me to the camp who sees nothing abnormal about Sally masturbating at that age. Children do that as toddlers. I don’t think any sexual abuse is at issue here.

  75. It got my back up a little too when Peggy said she was as oppressed as black people. Basically *because* she is starting the “oppression olympics” and it’s not good. But I think she was saying something that she never heard anyone say before. Nowadays we have all heard that a million times and know where it leads but Peggy doesn’t have the experience to know that it’s divisive and leads down a slippery slope of dismissing other people’s suffering because you have suffering too. Peggy is really isolated in her situation and so she is jealous that nobody sees the discrimination she deals with.

    The soup analogy was a bit lost on me. A liquid conforms to the shape of the vessel containing it so in this analogy men are the ones conforming to please women. I kept thinking of a hearty stew lying on the counter like a puddle of barf too, so it was also gross.

  76. Add me the the “Megan Draper” Club! Lok at the way they framed the scene with Sally: the long shot of Sally running out of control, then falling, while Don and the other women just watch, frozen; the long moment while Sally is just lying their crying, still no one moving, and finally Megan appears like an ANGEL! She calms Sally down, is easily empathic and sympathetic to her, and Don (and Faye) definitely notice and are impressed! Sequences like that are never wasted on this show!

  77. Don on the death of Mrs. Blankenship: “Poor THING.”

  78. I saw this episode as exploring how women define themselves at every age and struggle to attain some sort of love and validation in a male dominated world.

    Sally wandered in because she was lonely and missed her father.
    Peggy was at first flattered and later threatened by a non-conforming man.
    Joan, still in love with Roger, asserted her roles as office manager and wife, and later, after a terrifying street robbery, wrapped herself around him.
    Fay Miller, independent consultant, slept with Don and then felt manipulated by him in dealing with Sally.
    Ms. Blankenship died at her desk, answering “other people’s telephones”.
    Betty Draper, true to form, could wait a bit before picking up her missing daughter in the city.
    The Lesbian Life Magazine lady has a platonic romance with Peggy.

    The last scene, of all the woman coming through the lobby doors and into the elevator, was poignant and elegant.

  79. [please re-read the spoiler policy. Several times if necessary]

  80. When I saw the three women in the elevator, my first thought was: they all rejected a Friday night date. They were “dateless,” and were thinking about their decisions. Joan could have been with Roger, Peggy with Abe and Faye with Don — but they chose to be alone on a Friday night.

  81. Some thoughts on the passing of Ida Blankenship, astronaut. Although we didn’t see her when Don came out of his office to tell her to make sure Sally stayed in there, he said, “I don’t want to hear it” which gave me the impression she was getting ready to say something. Like maybe she was sitting there with her mouth hanging open…like when Peggy found her. And her phone was ringing…without her answering it. I suspect she was already dead & Don, who so often treats people, especially women & most especially secretaries, as furniture, just didn’t even see it. When Megan later pulls him out of the meeting to tell him, he is genuinely surprised because he says he just saw her & she was fine. Then you can see his face change as he begins to realize she may have been dead when he spoke to her.

    Later when Roger and Bert were discussing her obituary, they dismiss the idea of having Don, clearly the most professionally qualified person in the office, write it because “he didn’t really know her,” even though she’d been his “executive secretary” for, what, at least 4 months. Of course, he really didn’t know her…certainly not like Roger did, if his memoir is to be believed. I suspect Bert had “known” her the same way Roger had, too…at least pre-orchiectomy. When Miss Blankenship made her trenchant observation to Peggy that everyone in the advertising business was either “a sadist or a masochist,” implying that Don was the sadist & Peggy the masochist, I immediately flashed on the picture of the younger Ida, the “queen of perversions,” as a kitten with a whip. It’s always so hard for us to picture the people we know or knew at some other stage of life in which we didn’t know them. We viewers are just like Don; we can’t really “know” Ida when she was the equivalent of Joan. Will it be Joan’s fate to die “surrounded by the people she answered phones for?”

  82. #71 decogirl & #77 scooter27666

    Re Megan

    She’s starting to really interest me. She thought Peggy’s friend Joyce was “pretentious.” I think I agree with her (although I thought at the time she was just searching for a word to substitute for “creepy lesbian.”) She, alone in the office, had an empathetic response to Sally & was visibly upset after Sally’s departure with Betty. (Not sure if it was concern for Sally, the reflection of something in her own past or some kind of response to Don.) That a$#@%^ Stan referred to her as “Yvette Mimieux” (which I loved–Yvette being a sex kittenish actress from the early–mid ’60s who was in “Where the Boys Are,” among other things) presumably because of her French extraction. We know her mother was French but know nothing of her father. I’m thinking she’s just barely too old to be the daughter of a U.S. soldier & a French war bride (if she’s not much more than 20 in 1965 it’s just barely possible but doesn’t seem likely.) Would love to get a few more hints about her backstory. If I can get in on the pool, I’m betting on she quits…she seems to have enough self-possession not to put up with Don’s shenanigans. I’m not seeing romance here. I’m thinking she’s not much older (no more than 5 yrs at most) than California Stephanie. Everybody was all skeeved out at Don hitting on Stephanie yet so many seem to think Megan is a potential match for him. What gives?

  83. Everybody was all skeeved out at Don hitting on Stephanie yet so many seem to think Megan is a potential match for him. What gives?

    There’s a difference between seeing her as a likely match and seeing her as a suitable match. I think some feel it is likely (possible) that Megan could become a love interest for Don. Partly because she has been getting more screentime and now this latest development where she seems to be someone who Sally relates to & likes.

    I don’t know for sure if something (romantic) will happen between Megan and Don. But if so, based on what we’ve seen so far, I don’t think it’s a good match.

  84. I think there is some chemistry between Joyce and Megan.Megan would be the ideal secretary for Don. She will keep him focused on business, which is where it should be considering that the wheels might be coming off at SCDP. Unlike Joyce, Megan keeps her sexuality to herself. Creepy Stan might try to imply that Peggy is a lesbian on the stalls in the Men’s room. I found Joyce flaunting it in front of Stan ; very risky both for herself and Peggy. Just remember that homosexuality was crime in 1965.

  85. What to consider regarding Stephanie is that she was given the ‘thumb’s up’ by ANNA, of all people, at least it felt that way to me, knowing Don/Dick as well as she does. And while Roger’s marriage is closer to the extreme, older men have been marrying much younger women FOREVER!! lol!!

  86. “men are soup”

    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

  87. Megan seems older to me. Maybe 29 or 30? Also, the relationship of Stephanie as psuedo neice was creepy. I agree that Megan will “quit” (perfect phrasing), and anyway, she deserves better than Don. Not that I don’t adore the character.

  88. #85 Bob K & # 88 lydia

    Yeah….I’m with you on a possible Joyce/Megan connection. While I think Joyce would be perfectly happy to have a sexual relationship with Peggy, I think she’s figured that Peggy really isn’t into chicks & is equally happy to have her for a friend. I think Joyce is really much more sexually attracted to Megan—and who could blame her! Remember that Joyce brought her friends up to SCDP to check out Megan. I can’t figure Megan out but I think it’s possible she may be intrigued by the idea of Joyce, even if not totally comfortable with it.

    As for Megan’s age, I think she’s still pretty far south of 30 but my guess of her early 20s was pretty much a minimum. But I doubt if she’s as old as (& certainly not older than) Peggy.

  89. megan caring about sally fits with how she reacted in the focus group as well. she was comforting the crying woman sitting next to her (rubbing her shoulder) and went in to ask peggy afterward ‘is she ok?’ after allison runs out – she actually seemed to care.
    i thought then that it was a bit over the top to emphasize her non american-ness and then her ability to actually relate to other people’s emotions.
    but now, putting that aspect of her personality, together with the judgment of joyce, being the one to tell them at the clio’s that there are clients waiting, and telling of blankenship’s death, are making me more curious about her character. oh – and the fact that she seems super self aware when she talks about her ‘beauty routine’ during the focus group. and, that although she knows ‘the gaze’ is being directed at her (mentioned by both the joyce crew and the men at the office) she seems not to care and is doing her own thing.

  90. “You know, I don’t think there’s any value in playing Oppression Olympics, and seeing who gets the gold for worst oppression and who merely takes home the bronze.”

    Deborah, forgive me if I’m misreading you, but I thought that was an unnecessarily glib dismissal of Dartgirl’s very interesting and well thought out comment. I didn’t think Dartgirl was playing “Oppression Olympics” by pointing out how Peggy’s comment is problematic when placed in a wider context.

    The fact that Peggy may not believe racism in the South applies to her day-to-day life because she is a New Yorker is not an excuse for her shortsightedness — and based on the Harry Belafonte conversation I feel like Peggy realized this after thinking about her exchange with Abe. Peggy’s response to Abe was a spur-of-the-moment remark, made because Abe was running at the mouth and making Peggy feel backed into a corner. She may have experience defending herself against charges of having slept her way to her job, but this is probably the first time she’s been accused of being an oppressor. Both Abe and Peggy suffered from myopia in that conversation by thinking that sexism and racism are just the problems of women and blacks, respectively, but I have faith in Peggy (Abe, I’m not so sure about).

  91. With the Harry Belafonte comment, I thought Peggy was trying to prove herself right – she told Abe that, as discrimination was bad business, SCDP would try to talk the clients out of it. She was bluffing really, and her complete lack of surprise when Don totally shot that out of the water “It’s our job…” showed that.

  92. In this photo, Peggy looks like she has a halo.

  93. “Faye Miller,” was also the pseudonym Marilyn Monroe used when she checked into a mental facility.

  94. I don’t think that Don and Megan will end up together because Don doesn’t “see” her. She’s a beautiful woman, yes, but on some level Don seems attracted to women who are not caring and maternal. He replicates his issues with his mother figures.

  95. jaz, I stand corrected — Hannah Gruen! I wasn’t a huge ND fan, probably only read a few of them.

  96. I don’t mind a debate about racism/sexism in the context of MM, but perhaps it needs its own thread.

  97. @Deb, to me it was Peggy herself, not the commenter, who was playing Oppression Olympics. Peggy was also overlooking some other serious fundamental differences between her situation and her current job and the ablility of “negros” to obtain her position if they only wanted to work hard. Peggy was hired at SC as a secretary, there were not then and are not now any black female secretaries at SC or SCDP and by no stretch of the imagination would a black male (or any other kind of male) be hired as a secretary, so no black person would have that even possibility of a toe in the door as she did. Also, despite all of her current ambition, desire to gain more recognition, talent, skill and hard work, it wasn’t even like she fought to get a job as a copywriter in the first place, which is what she seemed to be expecting teh “negros” to do. Freddy noticed her innate abilities and rewarded it by first temporarily asking her to work on some copy in a part-time capacity, and then once Don recognized her skills and hardwork she was promoted. She didn’t ask about being a copywriter or express an interest in it, or even ask if there were women who did it. Yes she is highly talented, yes she works really hard and has ambition now, but she fell into that job initially and then ran with it. What if she’d gone to work as a secretary in another office where she didn’t have an innate talent, or if Freddy hadn’t worked there or if he’d been a jerk like Campbell who would have taken the idea and never given her credit? She’d still be a secretary. None of what happened to get her even in the door doing copy would have happpened with a black person b/c except to clean the office, run the elevator or sell sandwiches, black folks are persona non grata in that office, full stop.

    Also, it seems a little dismissive to write someone off as engaging in “oppresion olympics” by pointing out the vast differences in the struggles between women and blacks ( or more correctly here, white women and blacks since some of us are both) that Peggy blithely was brushing over when comparing herself and the real discrimination she faced as a woman to the discrimination and segregation (both de facto and de jure) that blacks faced in the north and the south.

  98. I haven’t seen a discussion yet of Petula Clark. I was struck by the presence of two of her mega-hits used in “Beautiful Girls”. She was, of course, a huge star – one of the few British Invasion females to made it big over here. But digging into her Wikipedia bio, I discovered she won back-to-back Grammys for Downtown (1964) and I Know A Place (1965).

    MOST interesting though, I was reminded of the scandal-ette she started:

    “In 1968, NBC-TV invited Clark to host her own special in the U.S., and in doing so she inadvertently made television history. While singing a duet of “On the Path of Glory,” an anti-war song that she had composed, with guest Harry Belafonte, she touched his arm, to the dismay of a representative from the Chrysler Corp., the show’s sponsor, who feared that the moment would incur the racist bigotry of Southern viewers. When he insisted that they substitute a different take, with Clark and Belafonte standing well away from one another, Clark and her husband Wolff the producer of the show refused, destroyed all other takes of the song and delivered the finished program to NBC with the touch intact. The program aired on April 8, 1968, with high ratings and critical acclaim.”

  99. Finally. Someone saw the Petula/Belafonte connex, etc.

    I won’t go into much; lots of interesting comments. Some are a bit much–you’re reaching too much people. But that’s OK. Those of you who want Sally to go to Woodstock? I was her age at the time…we just missed it unless you wanted to hitch. She might. Or she might be peeved like me & watch Dick Cavett’s show that Monday night with CSNY & Joni Mitchell. Joni was a beautiful girl who wasn’t “allowed” to go with the big boys to Woodstock. Anyone want to know about that should look it up. Fascinating. I remember my heart breaking for her when she played Woodstock, the song, that she wrote while waiting in NYC to go on the show. It was sad.

  100. Peggy actually starts to wonder about what Abe said. Peggy starts to get curious about racism. Peggy raises the issue in front of her co-workers and Don. Peggy–in her small way–does not entirely brush off Abe’s point. Abe maganged to unsettle her a bit, and she changed just a little bit.

    Abe–on the other hand–seems to have left their conversation completely uninfluenced by Peggy’s comments about the sexism that goes on all around Abe every day. Abe does not appear to have spent any time in self-reflection about how he could make some changes in how women are treated. Rather, Abe went away and composed pages and pages and pages designed to “prove” to Peggy that he was right and she was wrong.

    It’s Abe’s ego –the way he identifies himself as being morally superior–that is so frustrating. He is so busy finding fault with SCDP, Peggy, and their clients, he cannot assume responsibility for his own flaws.

    Peggy was able to self-reflect and question. Abe seemed to do no self-reflection.I think Abe’s blindness to Peggy’s difficult situation is what frightened her. Abe really could cost Peggy her job.To what extent was her name-dropping privileged information? Dr. Faye refused to reveal client names to Don. Peggy, naively, dropped all kinds of names to Abe.

    Abe doesn’t seem to think Peggy should work for SCDP anyway, so if she lost her job over the whole incident he’d probably think that Peggy had been “liberated.”

    What Abe doesn’t see is that Peggy wants to keep this job at this firm, that she may not be able to easily get another job, and that she’d rather try to slowly change the way things are done from within than “take down” the whole company with an angry essay.

  101. #44 Chris

    Hilarious!

  102. “Those women want to find and keep a man; “a” man, not necessarily a worthwhile one. They want to be pots to male soup.”

    Am I the only one who sees a connection between this analogy and the client:

    FILL MORE PARTS.

  103. To return back to Peggy’s Catholicism, I also can’t help but think of this pot & food reference without thinking of the frequent Biblical references to a person being a vessel of the Lord, or a potter have power to mold the lump of clay (i.e. – soup).

    I’m not sure how it would work in this instance (who’s molding who?) but the power dynamic seems awfully Catholic in nature.

  104. Thanks, elaine, Miss Clio and Dark Peggy. You stated my sentiments exactly; my point was that Peggy too easily reverted to the notion of yardsticking and grading completely different forms of oppression, rather than condemning and dealing with them each in their own right.

    I think the purpose of the Peggy/Abe discussion is precisely to underscore the fact that both of these smart, knowledgeable, “hip” people are actually incredibly myopic and inwardly focused, albeit Abe much moreso than Peggy. In other words they are human beings with human flaws.

    While each has his/her own world view and is convinced of the “rightness” of it, they bump heads because their individual views and perceptions of the events they see unfolding are filtered through lenses forged through individualized experiences and exposure. Peggy’s reaction to Abe’s criticism is intensely personal and visceral because her lens causes her to instinctively default to her own experience with oppression, which she feels goes unrecognized (“no one cares about that”) and that Abe derisively attempts to invalidate — he doesn’t “get it” because he hasn’t experienced what Peggy is talking about based on her firsthand knowledge. She is visibly frustrated when he jokingly references the notion of civil rights for women. Meanwhile she herself has just minimized what is going on in the South by dismissively likening it to her own, utterly inapposite situation and essentially suggesting than any Negro who “works hard” can achieve what she did, without regard to other impediments about which she is ignorant because she hasn’t experienced them.

    While I agree that she seems to have bought into a North/South distinction, it is not at all a valid one. I view the conference room scene where she begins to question the reasons why SCDP continues to do business with the Fillmore Brothers as pivotal on this point, and not only because it helps me maintain my faith in her. Cosgrove points out matter-of-factly, “[t]hey have a way of doing things that don’t include Harry Belafonte.” Peggy responds with earnestness, “The Fillmore Brothers are from Boston.” Cosgrove flatly replies “Same thing.” For me that was a harbinger of Charles Stuart and the racial divisiveness he created in Boston in the ’90s when I was a law student, not to mention racial tensions in Boston in the ’70s that predated that incident.

    As with many aspects of this show, we as the viewers have the benefit of seeing into these characters’ future, so we know that Abe unwittingly hit on something that will come to pass in terms of the increased struggle for women’s rights as a natural outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement, just as many of us know that it is overly simplistic and naive to draw distinctions between North and South as though that really matters, when racism was (and is) still very much alive north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    What this scene exemplifies for me is that while all of us are keenly aware of disappointments, unfairnessness, slights and ways in which we feel oppressed and ill-treated in our own lives, it is not always easy to empathize with others who experience pain without blindly defaulting to our own defining experiences, which can have the effect (intentional or unintentional) of minimizing and discounting the valid experiences of others. It is even harder to admit that we cannot truly understand that pain or speak directly to it unless we have shared that exact experience.

    I bet Carla, sitting in the Draper/Francis home in NY, would not agree either with Peggy’s suggestion that she and “Negroes” feel the same oppression, or with a belief that geography is dispositive and that what was going on in the South was less relevant in NY and distanced from her own experience, even if Peggy does enjoy that luxury.

    I stand by my contention that Peggy displayed a certain amount of hubris in drawing such definitive and decisive parallels to something she has not and will not personally experience. In our world of “isms,” it is Peggy who tries to make the point that in the Oppression Olympics she is as strong a contender for the gold as anyone else. There can be no dispute that Peggy and Carla are confronted with different roadblocks imposed by then-prevailing societal norms and that the quality of their lives are correspondingly adversely affected in different ways. The same holds true for comparisons between Sal and Carla, Sal and Peggy, Betty and Carla and any number of other permutations.

    As a person who is both Black and female, as the show progresses I would be interested in learning more about Carla’s thoughts about how her “isms” work against her and whether she sees them as different in kind, and not merely in degree, as I stated in my original post.

  105. Dartgirl88, great follow up comments. Here is an interesting Boston anecdote, I can’t remember where I heard this, I know it was in the news, maybe on NPR, but I recall hearing about a study sometime in the late 80′s that found that Boston was the most segregated city in America, bar none.

  106. I was 10 years old in 1965 and lived in Queens, a borough of NYC. The area was completely segregated. People moved from Brooklyn to Queens to avoid black people who were moving to Brooklyn. It was the north and there was plenty of prejudice. I didn’t go to school with black kids till HS.

    As far as civil rights…we must look at this through the eyes of people in the 60′s and not judge them by today’s standards. If you stuck up for black people no one hesitated to call you a n-word lover. This was in NY! At that time there were very few people who worried about civil rights…they were too comfortable with the status quo. This was the time of urban flight (to the suburbs)

    Regarding feminism..this was still a foreign idea to most people. All my friend’s mom’s were housewives – my mom helped my dad run his dry cleaning store but hated it and would much rather have stayed home and cooked and cleaned. I had older cousins who were secretaries in Manhattan and their families bragged about it like it was the accomplishment of the century. Most of them did this until they found a husband and quit to have kids (what Joan wants to do but can’t)

    Even a contemporary of mine went to a “commercial” high school and got a job as a secretary when she graduated in 1973.

    I was exposed to the feminist movement when I started college in Sept 1973 in Manhattan. It was mostly composed of women who didn’t wear makeup and shave under their arms ….I was in classes with them. However, I was always considered a rebel by my traditional mother…but encouraged to be that way by my un-traditional father, so even though I shaved under my arms I gravitated to the movement.

    Peggy is so busy trying to succeed in a “man’s world” that she doesn’t want to upset the apple cart by seeming to be “radical”…but to her credit she attempts to put her toe in the water with the Harry Belafonte suggestion. I am sure that the more she is exposed to these new ideas the more we will see her putting them out there.

    It was a very gradual change and I think Peggy represents that change in the office.

    One more thing – it was very ironic that men who were fighting for equality of blacks saw no problem with keeping women barefoot and pregnant. Women have to thank the Civil Rights movement for letting them see that they could make the same changes. I remember women being ridiculed for wanting to “be like a man” because at the time, people still didn’t get it.

    We are fighting the same fight for gay people today…nothing has changed.

  107. JudyT, I don’t know how much this is a case of judging people in the past through modern day lenses (something I don’t have as much of a problem with as some people do) but it is a case of pointing out Peggy’s naivete, at best and ignorance and dismissal at worst, about the realities of what black people faced in terms of discrimination by saying, “I have it bad too” Plus plenty of people have that same exact mentality today and when they are faced with information about someone else’s suffering they change the subject to themselves and how they as individuals or as members of a certain group suffer as well.

  108. DarkGirl, your comments are far-reaching yet exact. Great job with your dissection!

    On a broader level, I’ve noticed that episodes showing the counterculture of the time–which was years past dawning but just then becoming fashionable–point out its foibles and pretentiousness to an almost comic degree.

    Same thing still happens today. Once a movement–musical, political, what have you–gains mass, it adopts a nomenclature, and the people “hip” to it start modeling their thoughts and words to fit it.

  109. @Dark Peggy, thanks so much for sharing this anecdote because I hadn’t heard it before and plan to look into it further. Having lived in Boston for 3 years I am not surprised to hear that news and it resonates with my own observations. So many missed cross-cultural learning opportunities.

    @JudyT, I see your point and appreciate your added perspective re: what it was like in certain areas of NY in 1965 as you were growing up. I grew up in Brooklyn (Crown Heights) in the early ’70s, so I just missed the time period you describe but can relate to your comments to the extent that despite having spent a great deal of time in the South with an extended and close-knit family, the first time I was ever called the “n” word was during a 7th grade trip (I went to school in Park Slope) when we traveled to Valley Stream, NY. Very unexpected. Very ugly.

    @HuckB, you are so right — sometimes the show makes you laugh out loud and at other times you cringe and just wait for the other shoe to drop, because you KNOW what’s coming! Henry and Betty, and all those lunches and dinners and political aspirations . . .

    This thread has made me ruminate more than any other, on a number of levels. Thanks for the stimulating discussion!

  110. I am trying to put myself into Abe’s shoes. He obviously struck out with Peggy due to his boorish behavior that night, and by the time he realized his mistake Peggy wanted no part of listening to his apology.

    So Abe shows up at the office with a manifesto for her to read. I want to know what he wrote that would cause her to say she should would get fired for repeating his thoughts. I think the most obvious would be his beliefs about corporate dominance in America. He may have added how her clients have also contributed to to the civil rights struggles. Peggy eventually took some of these views and expressed them in the meeting.

    However, I think he may have actually thought about what she said to him. He likes her and may have realized that he needed to apologize to her earnestly for being an ass. Abe tells her he writes better than talks, and she really inspired him. So maybe that manifesto expressed her plight in a man’s world. He may have thought about what she said and realized that women have a tough row to hoe in the man’s world. Peggy knows she cannot say this to Don, but much like her comments in the meeting she may have kernels to use.

    I would like to believe there were some men at the time able to have at least some sympathy for her plight. If nothing else it’s another cause for a rabble rouser like Abe.

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