The Trump Misogy-Meter: Mad Men Edition
The Trump Misogy-Meter meets Donald Trump where he lives – stuck in a perpetual Mad Men era in which men bask in the freedom of male privilege surrounded by a bevy of beauties willing to serve as secretaries and “something between a mother and a waitress” [1.1]. Trump (b. 1946) came of age at a time when society expected women to shape their bodies and comportment to please men who saw them as sexual objects, dutiful housewives, and little else.
Perhaps shielded in a bubble of wealth, Trump missed the seismic shift in gender relations that feminists brought about with the Women’s Liberation Movement in the early 1970s. He fails to understand gender politics and American culture as they operate today. He must share the stage – and power – with modern Peggy Olsons, and, as we have seen, The Donald never did learn how to share.
Fortunately for those perplexed by Trump’s retrograde views on women, Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men offers a rich tutorial. Trump’s sexism veers between misogyny and chauvinism, punctuated with heavy doses of locker room bravado. Who better to illuminate this behavior than the Mad Men of Sterling Cooper?
For the next five months The Trump Misogy-Meter will assess Mr. Trump’s past and present treatment of women in comparison to the following Mad Men characters or combinations thereof. (As fans of the series can imagine, narrowing the field to four was a difficult task).
Pete Campbell, main character and Sterling Cooper Accounts Executive, reduces women to their physical appearance. His tendency to ogle hardly distinguishes him from his peers who engage in the same behavior as a matter of course. Pete’s disdainful treatment of women, however, reveals his own petulance and insecurities. For this reason, Pete Campbell represents the objectification of women.
Harry Crane begins his Mad Men career as a faithful husband and ends it as an odious letch. Reasons for this dramatic transformation remain unclear. This repugnant B-Team character and Sterling Cooper’s Head of Television makes hitting on other men’s wives and girlfriends a recreational pastime. Harry Crane epitomizes the hound.
Joey Baird, a loathsome minor character who briefly works as an artist at SCDP, comes closer to true misogyny than any Mad Men character. Given the context this is a significant achievement. Joey revels in male dominance and viciously berates women who challenge his autonomy. Joey Baird represents cruelty toward women.
Jim Hobart, minor character and CEO of advertising behemoth McCann Erickson, cannot abide women who transgress the supposed boundaries of femininity and attempt to share male power. To keep them in their place he minimizes their contributions and questions their intellect. Jim Hobart signifies the infantilizing of women.
Neither I, nor the Republican Party, can anticipate the surprising forms Mr. Trump’s sexism will take. With this in mind, I reserve the right to call on the occasional Ferg or Vile Greg to assess Mr. Trump’s conduct as necessary.
For those wondering why a historian from middle-America would bother to wade into the sludge of the 2016 presidential campaign, the answer is simple. I love to write, I love Mad Men, and I love my country. Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy along with The Donald’s unbridled sexism make for an explosive combination. Trump’s views on women exemplify the past, not the present, and certainly not the future of the United States. I would like to keep it that way.