Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mad Men: Weekly Review

After a YEAR AND A HALF we finally got what we were waiting for, Mad Men's return. I've decided that because I love the show so much I will post my musings on it each week. This will not be so much as a recap as me posing questions and looking for discussion about the episode—I know I have friends who love this show too! I find this show completely fascinating; partly because of my firm belief that I was born in the wrong decade an partly because the gender issues addressed in the show.

In just the first few minutes I am completely frustrated with the fact that they will not let us know how much time has passed. Of course we have to assume that at lease a year has gone by because Jane had only just told Roger of her pregnancy at the end of last season and now she has the baby. Also I have noted a few other changes that have not been explained AT ALL.

1) When / how did Lane convince his wife to come back to the US? Last I remember his dad beat him to the floor and made him go home. Also, if he is indeed back with his wife what was with the creepy exchange over the phone with the random wallet owner's "girl." I know when the separated he saw other women, but when he was with the Playboy bunny it seemed like he was very much a one-woman man. I'm a little thrown and desperate for some more information.

2) Did Harry and his wife get divorced? At Don's surprise party he kept talking about his wife not being able to find a date, and when he was explaining what he would do to Megan—which I will get to how pissed I was about that—he told her Jennifer was very jealous. So on to the conversation of what Harry would do to Don's wife. If I had any doubts of his and Jennifer's separation those comments sealed it. If you didn't watch, trust me you would have been outraged (or at least scandalized—I am adult enough to understand that not everyone would be offended by blatant sexual harassment).

On to things that weren't so vague...

Megan vs. Peggy: I applaud Peggy for being so nice to Megan. If I had worked my ass off for Don for years only to have his new wife come in and just be made a copywriter I would not be graceful about it. Yes, at the party Peggy got back to her impulsively bitchy self, but overall she was very nice about it. Megan melting down on Peggy at work the following Monday was not Megan being very kind though. Obviously she was taking other things out on Peggy, but it makes her a really unlikable character—we all already hate her a little bit for having seemed to change Don, the truth / length of that change is yet to be seen.

Then I am kind of baffled about the whole thing when Peggy went to apologize about her behavior at the party. Don was fine about what she said, but not so fine that Megan got so upset that she left. Then in true Don fashion he made Peggy feel horrible and ran out of the office for the day.

Don gets home only to find Megan in full-blown cleaning mode and then she rips off her clothes and acts all crazy. What the heck!? Has she met Don before? Getting all demanding with him will not result well. Is this a character development ploy—strong willed French woman tames misogynistic ad-man? It didn't seem to work, but I digress.

Wait, one more Megan rant. What is her issue with Jane? Have I just forgotten some key piece of information or was her behavior towards Jane completely uncalled for?

Speaking of Jane. I am so very happy that they addressed the topic of new mothers returning to work—thankfully she hasn't been fired but she still thought she was being fired. For years women had no rights when it came to their job and having a child. While there are now laws in place to protect women there is still a huge issue regarding a working woman and pregnancy. In states like New Jersey there are laws called "no-fault" laws which basically means you can be fired for any reason as long as it is not unlawful. So while, because of federal law, a woman cannot be fired for being pregnant or for taking maternity leave, she can be fired for almost any other reason. I will put this in perspective: you can be pregnant and can't be fired for that, but they can fire you and just say it was for reasons other than that, and nothing will happen. Of course a woman can try to fight it but if they have the smallest evidence of a misstep would be evidence enough that the termination was not unlawful.

And the cherry on the night? The show ran over the two hours! Check in next week for more martini-filled, smokey-room, gender-biased Mad Men fun! Oh, and by the way if you have never experienced the amazingness that is Mad Men catch up by next Sunday (all seasons are on Netflix).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Learning to Love Your Body

Every single day I have conversations with various women in my life where the topic of weight comes up. It may be something as innocent as "I feel bloated," but weight is a constant in our daily dialogue. While this has always been something I have had issues with today I actually took a moment to think about it.

We all know that our society is poison for women and their self-esteem. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, movies, actresses, models, etc. all telling us how we should look. I would hope that all women know that what you see on those billboards or on the pages of magazines are edited photos. No one looks like that, if they did they would hire those women because they would save a hell of a lot of time and money on retouches. 

Every now and then the issue of women's body images reached the mainstream, national conversation (like we saw recently with the 'Am I Ugly' videos, if you missed out here is my blog on the topic), but it should be rectified not just discussed. We need real action and it cannot wait because every day it is getting worse.

I can prove that it is. Think about pregnancy. Now I have never experienced it but I spoke to a good friend of mine, Lisa, who is pregnant with her first baby (we can't wait to meet you Grayson!) about being pregnant and her body image. Jessica Simpson's cover of Elle Magazine in which she is completely naked just came out and I wanted to hear her thoughts on it. She first explained to me that she would never do something like that, but that aside she did not see a reason to hide it. This would be all well and good if the photo was genuine and not some photo shopped creation to further humiliate and shame women into hating their bodies.

Here is the cover:
Photo credit: Fashion Indie.
Here is her at an interview on the Ellen DeGeneres Show:
Photo credit: Zap2It.
Now call me crazy but there is no way her body changed that much. I am not insulting the real her (the one in the picture with Ellen) I am just baffled as to why she doesn't embrace her body. Pregnancy is beautiful and it is almost worse to allow your photo to be altered when you are pregnant. You are turning something so precious and amazing into something shameful.

Lisa's thoughts were to embrace your reality and not succumb to the way you think you should be perceived. I couldn't agree with her more. I remember when Jessica Simpson first came on to the music scene she was marketing herself as a wholesome singer who wanted to be a good role model to young girls. Correct me if I am wrong Jessica, but what kind of example do you set now?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Day My Feminist Was Born

It is hard to pinpoint when I first discovered the feminist inside. This first thing that I can recall was in fourth grade. My ILA (which was their fancy term for English) teacher was Ms. Britton. It always seemed like she had it out for me. English was always my best subject, but I struggled in Ms. Britton's class—although had it not been for her, I don't think I would know how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism.
Photo credit: My Vintage Vogue.
I have always been partial to hats, and although my school had a policy against wearing them in school I ignored that. My absolute favorite hat was a brown beret of sorts that I had gotten from a friend. One day I wore it to Ms. Britton's class.

"Get that rag off your head, Benzinger," she said. She was one of those teachers that loved to call everyone by their last name.
Now as a fourth grader, you would think that I would have just listened out of fear of getting in trouble but instead I chose to argue my right to wear the hat. I explained to her how there used to be a time where women were required to wear hats in public, but I was choosing to do so. She was so flabbergasted that she let me wear my hat that day, but asked that I not wear it in her classroom again.

A small victory for me. 

To this day, when I ask my mom how I came up with that she swears I thought of it on my own.
I still love the idea of wearing fancy hats when out, although I may be alone on this one.
Photo credit: Fashion Era.