Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction

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.

Mad Men
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.


  1. I love that show! I included it in my list of favorite things back in March!

  2. Double amen. I can't even imagine. And thanks to those generations of women I don't have to.

  3. Hey, what can I say, Gee, I miss the 'Good Old Days'

  4. If you see Trudy, will you tell her to get her ass back in the kitchen and get to work on my dinner? I expect it on the table at 6PM sharp.

  5. our very favorite scene is when betty is in the kitchen with her friend, smoking cigarettes and having a martini and her daughter comes in with a drycleaning bag over her head. the PRICELESS comment of "the clothes that were in that drycleaning bag had BETTER NOT be on the floor of my closet" not "oh my god you're going to suffocate and i'm going to be arrested for child endangerment" BWAHAHAHAHA!!! ah the good old days! ;-) i really don't know how we survived!
    but yes, i too am taken aback by some of the guys' comments....would LOVE to slap them silly!

  6. I don't have to imagine - I was there. The show is pretty accurate but still cannot really give you the true feeling of what it was like. Big bottles of alcohol in all the executive offices? Oh yeah! The executive secretary was next to being a deity because of the power she wielded. The lowly "girls" in the secretarial pool would not be allowed to socialize with her.
    The feminist movement of the middle 60's into the '70's HAD to happen...it did. But don't be thinking that we were all willing to be thrown under the bus by Steinem and Friedan...and yes, we were thrown under the bus. They sounded the battle cry but millions of women actually had to do the hard work and be the "Norma Rae's" that actually got the work done. This is how I like to put it - we dug our way from the center of the earth with nothing but a Dixie Cup spoon. And now we have feminists beating their chests about the Glass Ceiling, As if sitting in the CEO's chair is the only measure of success to which we should hold ourselves.
    I find the current crop of feminists to be a disappointment. I would have thought that they would take up the plight of women in third world countries that have NO POWER whatsoever. We need to be helping those women at the bottom of the well and quit the harangue about the glass ceiling.
    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife