On Mad Men’s 11th episode of their 5th season they tackled a touchy subject…how does a woman make her way in a man’s world? Their answer … sex. Here’s a quick recap in case you missed it:
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is in the running for the Jaguar account (again). While at dinner with a higher up at Jaguar the man suggest that SCDP could win the account if Joan would sleep with one of them. So, Pete presents the business opportunity to Joan (in the slimy way only Pete can) she objects and the topic is seemingly dropped. But that’s not Pete’s style and he calls all the partners in to discuss paying Joan for her exchange, only Don objects. Lane speaks with Joan and tells her if she’s going to prostitute herself she should ask for a non-silent partner at the agency. Lane offers her a partnership with 5% share in the company, and she agrees.
Now, I love Mad Men and Joan is by far one of my favorite people on the show. She’s always been a really strong force. She runs that office, knows everything, puts Roger in his place, doesn’t settle for less in her marriage and in this episode … she …well, she did what she had to do. Joan is now a single mother of a newborn and has been working with the guys at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for 13 years. I’ll admit I was a bit upset when she actually went through with it, but the more I thought about it I wondered,“what would I do?” If I had a little baby at home, and had been killing myself for 13 years and still didn’t make decent money because I was a gorgeous redhead with a killer bod and not a man … Well, I might be tempted to use the one thing that I had going for me, too.
It also got me thinking about living in a man’s world. In 2012 I didn’t think I had that issue until recently, when I was confronted with being put in a hard place for two reasons: I look very young and I am female. My ideas were not accepted without hard evidence to back them (where as my male counterpart could just throw out random ideas and be met with praise and reward), and I was made to take the fall for my male counterpart and told “You’re a silly young girl, but you’ll be fine because you’re so pretty.” It was pretty clear to me that at that company I was never going to be anything other than a pretty face … unless I had something to trade.
Looking back on this episode of Mad Men, I get it. I was dealing with three men stuck in the 1950’s-60’s and Joan lives in those times where EVERY man thinks that way. While the act itself was prostitution, it was also really powerful and got her foot in the door. Living in LA and working in entertainment you start to realize it doesn’t matter how you get in – you just get in … and Joan became the first female partner of an advertising agency in 1967. So you know what? Brava, Joan.