Yes, I’m blogging about Mad Men…AGAIN. Though, this time, I’m focusing more on the varied portrayals women. But, yet again, Slut Machine aka Tracie Egan has sort of beat me to the punch, though you can watch the video on her post for more context.
Anyway, Bobbie Barrett (she was most famously featured in that one scene where Don Draper shoves his hand up her crotch), the wife and manager of a comedian who works for Sterling Cooper, offers Peggy the following advice:
You’re never gonna get that corner office until you start treating Don as an equal. And no one will tell you this, but you can’t be a man. Don’t even try. Be a woman. It’s powerful business, when done correctly
At first I wasn’t sure how she meant that– was she subscribing to some Joan-esque notion of getting what you want (in Joan and Helen Gurley Brown’s world, money, and a husband, most likely) by playing up features that can be seen as more normative representations of femininity? Clearly, Joan is Peggy’s foil in this way, because Peggy wants more (and gets more than) what Joan wants, and in a completely different way. But then I thought, no, Bobbie isn’t at all like Joan. In fact, I think she is sort of saying,something similar to an oft-cited (at least in the circles I ran in in college) Audre Lorde quote (from an essay of a similar name) about the master’s tools never being able to dismantle the master’s house.
It’s funny, because I always thought about this particular quote/essay while Hillary Clinton was still campaigning. I just had happened to purchase the AMAZING movie All About Eve around this time as well, which among LOTS and LOTS of other things, totally made me think about Hillary Clinton’s parallels to Eve in terms of the types of strategies she employs and has employed to advance her career. Both of these women (Eve and Hillary), I feel, sort of play by the rules of the patriarchy (instead of dismantling the rules themselves) in order to come out “on top.” I feel like I totally see shades of this in Peggy, and clearly, so does Bobbie.
As Slut Machine points out,
…we’re often led to believe that in order to be equal with men, we have to be the same as them. And sure, some women are in many respects, but a lot of us aren’t. And we shouldn’t have to be. That’s the whole point of ‘lib,’ right?
Not only this, but if we stay within the limits of a system that has been oppressive towards non-white non-males, it’s probably very likely that we will continue to perpetuate a lot of the patterns and ideas that create the oppression itself. So any real, lasting change is a lot harder to achieve when you’re working within a framework that purposely limits specific people.
Immediately after watching this scene/quote, the i person I was with remarked “That’s some pretty good advice!” And now after thinking about it forever and analyzing it to death, I think I agree!