All Peggy’s Men

Pandagon has been doing Mad Men Mondays, which is how I got into watching that show. And OMFG, is it ever an awesome show. But lately it feels like the Mad Men Monday threads don’t address the stuff that goes thru my mind when I watch the show, so I think I’m going to occasionally blog about it too. And I’m going to start with Sunday’s episode, because it was one of the best ones so far. It was called “The Suitcase”, because superficially it was about trying to create an ad for Samsonite suitcases (and because all the characters in the episode unload fucktons of “baggage” on each other), but it might as well have been titled “All Peggy’s Men”, since it revolved around her, and three men with which she had three different kinds of relationships: her bland-ass, family-picked fiance who doesn’t have his own internet page and whose name I don’t remember; Duck, her former lover, who is still (literally) insanely in love with her and who is a relapsed alcoholic; and her boss Don Draper, a slightly stereotypical “asshole with a heart of gold” who is recently divorced, lonely, and as a result on his best way to become an alcoholic, as well, and who has throughout the show been sort of a mentor to Peggy.

The episode takes place on Peggy’s birthday, and the three guys manage to show themselves from their least pleasant sides: her fiance invites her whole family (with whom she doesn’t get along well at all) to what was supposed to be a romantic candle-light dinner as a “surprise”, then throws a fit over her having to work late, and they actually break up; Duck starts out ok, by sending her flowers and a gift which is the offer to become a partner in an ad agency he wants to create, except then it turns out that he’s drunk, doesn’t really have the funding for this, and actually got his ass fired from his previous job. And then he shows up at her work, sobbing about how he can’t go on without her, but ending up calling her a whore when he thinks she slept with her boss. Draper himself comes off least bad of the three, and that’s saying a lot considering he starts out by taking her apart for an ad idea he didn’t like, and then making her work late (probably because he’s lonely and dealing with a fuckton of emotional issues in that episode especially), and then getting drunk and throwing up. But at least he doesn’t insult her, apologizes for fucking up her birthday after finding out it was her birthday, buying her for food and drinks for that, and actually having a halfway sane, caring personal conversation with her (while the other dudes made their relationships with her mostly about themselves).

Anyway, somewhere halfway through this episode there’s a scene shortly after the break-up (by phone) with the lame fiance who doesn’t really know shit about her, when she drags her boss to the bathroom where he proceeds to throw up a lot, and her ex-lover shows up to make a scene. At that point, Peggy gets this really weird expression on her face… and for a moment I got this impression that if this were me in that situation, I’d be thinking that if this was my choice of men, becoming a spinster/crazy catlady would suddenly seem far more appealing. As a matter of fact, almost none of the men in the show make very good husbands: if they’re not lying, cheating, divorcing-for-a-younger-model assholes, they’re paternalistic and condescending.

So there you have it… patriarchy makes men unappealing.

5 comments on “All Peggy’s Men

  1. David Marjanović says:

    So there you have it… patriarchy makes men unappealing.

    Hence why patriarchy puts pressure on women (…and men) to marry (the earlier, the better) and commonly arranges marriages to present women (…and men) with a fait accompli.

  2. David Marjanović says:

    Actually, patriarchy makes women unappealing, too — or, rather, appealing only to some men. Its ideal are women that can deal with a household but with pretty much nothing else, can hardly be talked to because they haven’t got much of an education* so they don’t know shit and have never trained to think, and so on.

    Solution? What I just said: everyone is married off at the first opportunity, and divorce is discouraged or forbidden. This life is a vale of tears, and you’re stuck in it, praise the male Lord.

    * With a couple exceptions, like the whole geisha phenomenon. But those are exceptions even within their cultures and not considered the ideal for a wife.

  3. Paul says:

    Actually, patriarchy makes women unappealing, too — or, rather, appealing only to some men.

    Appealing to the type of men the patriarchy wants, of course. I don’t really think this is a point against it in and of itself, though (other than a trivial one). Pretty much any system is going to make things appealing only to those who buy into the premises of the system. Why does a woman need to be able to hold a conversation when she’s just supposed to clean the house and be arm candy when you’re trying to impress your boss? One could just as easily say that gender egalitarianism makes women unappealing – or, rather, appealing only to some men.

    Not trying to nitpick to death or be needlessly contrary, it’s just something that jumped out at me reading your comment.

  4. cicely says:

    I don’t watch the show, but as you describe them, yeeeeah, sign me up for extra cats.

  5. David Marjanović says:

    One could just as easily say that gender egalitarianism makes women unappealing – or, rather, appealing only to some men.

    True.

    I just hope there are more of those men than of the others.

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