Long after my college days of devouring Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and participating in "Take Back the Night" marches, I have finally come to appreciate what the feminist movement has done for me, for my daughter, for every generation of women to come. This appreciation came from a most unlikely source: a television show. After reading about all of the award nominations that the AMC show, Mad Men, has garnished, I had to see the show for myself. I moved it to the top of my Netflix que and have been watching Season 1, one disc at a time, for the past few weeks. For anyone who hasn't watched the show, it depicts the professional and personal lives of New York Advertising execs in the 1960's. Let's just say the glass ceiling was in another galaxy and sexual harassment was not only legal, it was a freakin' expectation. This is the work environment that my parent's generation began their professional lives in. It blows my mind.
On a recent episode, one of the men in the office was describing his experience while brainstorming with the secretaries (lovingly referred to as the "hens") in which he was astounded to find that one of the women actually had some pretty good ideas. He described the scene, "It was like watching a dog play the piano." This is so foreign and offensive to me that I cannot fathom behavior like this ever being tolerated. My daughter will be even more astounded and baffled by this type of talk. You know what that is called people? Progress. So, thank you Mad Men for giving today's generation a real glimpse of what it was that the women of the sixties and seventies were fighting for. And thank you bra-burnin', protestin' women of generations past for making such behavior seem stranger than fiction to me.