The Feminine Mystique in Mad Men
This investigation aims at unveiling the existing connections between the TV fiction series Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015) and Betty Friedan’s essay The Feminine Mystique, one of the key texts of the socalled feminist ‘second-wave,’ published in 1963. Both works deal with the role of women in the 1960s, within the context of mass culture, as defined by the irruption of consumer society, advertising and television. Betty Draper, one of the main characters in Mad Men, represents the paradigm of the feminine mystic, since she shows all the classic sympthoms of the average middle-class woman of her period, devoted to domestic chores even though she had conquered her political and civil rights before the outbreak of the Second World War. Similarly, through other characters such as Peggy Olson or Joan Holloway, Mad Men delves deep into the concept of ‘career girl’ in
order to expose the various levels of dependency of social conventionalism affecting each of these women depending on their personal circumstances. Hegemonic masculinity is conversely represented by the character of Don Draper, whose incesant search for an identity of his own colides with the yearnings of all feminine types portrayed in Mad Men. The analysis of these characters’ behavioural patterns helps understanding the social and cultural mechanisms which Betty Friedan attempted to describe 50 years ago and which still hinder women’s access to the job market today.