Monday, September 12, 2011

Mad Men

My soon to be wife and I are watching "Mad Men". It's a very entertaining, if not erratic show. Set in the 60's, it's at the forefront of social change in America; civil rights, social norms, you name it. I think what most people notice first about the show is the treatment of women in the workplace. Women are nothing more than spectacle for the men and treated as such. One of the main characters, Peggy Olson, is a women who is making it in a man's world, and we are led to believe that this is social progress. A woman being promoted to copy writer; a man's job being done by a woman.

It's an interesting social commentary on the progress of women in the work force, how they broke through the glass ceiling. But I find the insight to be only skin deep. Yes, women were treated badly, and yes it's remarkable for Peggy to achieve success as a copy writer. But what's more remarkable is that men are copy writers. Copy writing, advertising, is not a man's job. 50 years before, no man was a copy writer, the job didn't exist. Before men could keep women out of the copy writing business, there had to be a copy writing business.

Women's success in the work force is part of the same revolution that brought us male copy writers. Women didn't break through the glass ceiling, the glass ceiling rendered itself obsolete.