Dear "Mad Men", where have you been all my life? Seriously.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been seeing people tweeting about AMC's show "Mad Men" and I didn't give it a second thought. It wasn't until I decided to cancel my cable (thought it sounded good at the time) and watch my television on the free website hulu.com when I actually discovered the show. Last week I started watching an episode of "Mad Men", which I absolutely loved, but I couldn't really carry the story because it seemed that so much had happened in the previous seasons. Coincidentally, I received seasons 1 and 2 as a gift this week.
If you have noticed that I have been missing in action, then it would be absolutely correct to assume that I have been locked away on my computer watching all of season 1 and 2. And I'm totally enthralled with it. I love the fashion, the cut throat industry of advertising, the drinking, the smoking, the affairs, and everything else.
Right before I started watching it, a male tweeted to me, "You'll finally realize how much has changed for women since 1960". Or something to that effect.
Really though? Has much changed? The women are all in the secretarial arena (of what I've seen so far, minus the one female secretary who manages to move up as a copywriter). Many of the men are incredibly sexist, and the women in the office also perpetuate the same sexism on one another in the form of criticizing one another for how they look, act and dress and how it will have an impact on finding a husband. If you haven't seen the show, I am sure you can just imagine all the sexism.
So has sexism really fundamentally changed since then, or are men just scared that they might get sued for acting like the sexist pricks that many of them still are??! I am a female in an upper management position (the only female, by the way) and honestly what I see on an every day basis is pretty much a covert mirror of what was overtly happening in this television show. I'm called "sweetheart" or "honey" by men who are below me on a frequent basis. I watch the higher management prey on some of the secretarial staff. I have to sit and listen to men make completely sexist jokes to one another while in my presence. I have been sexually harassed by inferiors, although many men refuse to acknowledge that a woman who is above a man in position can be sexually harassed by someone below her.
In season one there is one episode where a female secretary is asked to work on an ad account for a "weight loss" device which actually happens to have a vibrator in it. She stands in front of all the male executives and has to listen to them make sexist jokes about their wives as well as sexual jokes. And she just grins and bears it. She doesn't say a word.
Oh...but that doesn't happen any more to women in the workplace, right? Ask any female executive in upper management and I will bet that she will beg to differ. I am an extremely dominant woman and it has happened to me more times than I can count. Sometimes I say something, but sometimes I don't; it depends on which battle I feel like picking on that particular day.
Read memoirs of female CEOs and executives and you'll hear all about their battle scars and how they sometimes call them on their shit yet sometimes use other assertive tactics. I once had to get in one of my colleagues face and tell him, "Oh, you want to have a pissing match, do you? Well, draw the fucking line in the sand. I can assure you that I can pee farther than your sorry ass while I am standing up. Now stop fucking with me because I will squash you". Sure I just wanted to report him to someone for being a sexist pig, but I knew that aggressive behavior and getting in his face would work better with that bully. And it did.
We've always had bullbusting women who've climbed their ways up kicking, screaming and clawing the eyes out of sexist jackasses-then, now and as far back as we can remember. Even if we don't hear about those bad ass early feminists, they've always been around putting men in their place.
Regarding the dynamics of the female workers in the show, I just blogged last week about my secretarial staff who happen to be all up in my business about whether or not I am going to get married or have children, what I am wearing, what I wore last week, my shade of lipstick, blablabla. They gossip, they flirt, and some look down on women who are divorced. I swear, to watch some of these office women back in the 1960s in the show is practically like looking at half of the women who work in my office.
And don't get me started on doctors. In one episode, the female character goes to see a male doctor to get birth control from a pervy doctor. He tells her that if she sleeps around he will immediately take her off the birth control pill because men won't want to marry a hussy. Oh, this stuff definitely happen any more, right? Well, I think one of my good friends would beg to differ. Last year she was denied birth control by the pharmacist on duty at a national pharmacy because the pharmacist told her that she was committing a "mini-abortion" every time that she took the pill. Ha. I'll save my own personal story about a certain emergency room perv doctor for a later post when I explain why I will NEVER go to a male doctor again.
So really, not much has changed since the 1960s. It's just a tad bit more covert than it used to be, at least in my opinion. What do you think?
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