Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S

On last night's episode, Don was dealing with this same old issues (alcoholism, identity, etc.) while Joan and Peggy were faced with something new—sexual harassment in the workplace from male subordinates.

The freelancers in creative have formed something of a boys club. Actually, it's more like a little boys club, with immaturity taking the place of any official power wielding. Obviously frustrated by being the lowest on the totem pole at SCDP—with even women above them—they've begun lashing out in base ways to compensate for their feelings of inferiority as a means to assert dominance, however unconsciously. As Peggy pointed out, she feels like Margaret Mead, observing these apes.

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




One guy, Joey, is worse than the rest because he has a particular aversion to women in authority. (Dr. Faye Miller would probably have a field day analyzing his mommy issues.) Joan reminds him of his mother, of whom he apparently isn't fond. But would he talk to his mother the way he talks to Joan?




With his rape and whore comments he hits below the belt. But that's mostly because he's so low that he can't reach anywhere else. Joan seems to understand this, but it upsets her nonetheless. Leaving work early that day, she goes home and is faced with her husband packing for basic training. She's worried that she won't have anyone to talk to once he leaves and he suggests her "friends at work." Upon realizing that she has no friends at work, and will soon have no husband at home, she finally breaks down.

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




It's interesting when Mr. Harris tries to cheer her up by suggesting they have sex and "pretend we're in some midtown hotel and we both snuck away for the afternoon." Because that's not an escape from work at all for Joan. It probably only reminds her of the days she spent with Roger.

Meanwhile, Don is spending his time trying not to drink (as much), using the pool at the gym, and (perhaps taking a cue from Sterling's Gold) writing about his life. It's all very reminiscent of John Cheever's "The Swimmer."

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




When Don walks out of the athletics club, as "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" plays, he sees two sailors walk by and checks them out.

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




Then two women walk by and he checks them out, too. This seemed like another wink toward Cheever, a noted bisexual, although I don't think the writers were trying to imply anything about Don's sexuality. Instead, I think they were trying to bring Cheever to mind as much as possible for the viewer, since he and the character Don Draper have so much in common, beyond being from the same era. Both lived in West Chester. Both contemplate the duality of mankind. Both had marital troubles. Both sought help from therapists when dealing with alcoholic depression. (Although Don did this in the form of going on a date with Dr. Miller.) Both were convinced that something was wrong with their wives, so they sent them to shrinks. Interestingly, Cheever recorded in his journal that his wife's psychiatrist told him that he was "a neurotic man, narcissistic, egocentric, friendless, and so deeply involved in [his] own defensive illusions that [he has] invented a manic-depressive wife." That sounds like Don. Although, I think Don "created" rather than "invented" much of what is wrong with Betty. Namely, she's turning into a mean drunk.

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




So where are they going to go with all of this writing? Is Don eventually going to have the thoughts he's jotting down on his observations of the human condition published in The New Yorker? He's previously shown an interest in literary works and the artist inside him has a soft spot for counter-culture. (He's living in the West Village instead of Uptown.)

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




Back at the office, Joan is confronted with more poor behavior from the art department, who have gotten more brash, more offensive, and more personal with making her the butt of their "jokes."

Mad Men And "The Power Of The Poontang"S




Certainly she's grown accustomed to being treated differently in the workplace than men, having been chased around a few desks in her day. But maybe she was able to accept those practices because, while perhaps inappropriate, they weren't particularly cruel. And maybe now that she has her own office, and some authority, she feels like she finally deserves respect, which is why she's now demanding it. But she does it in her own way—by telling the little boys club that she'll be happy when they will most likely die in Vietnam.




Peggy is pissed about the attacks on Joan, too. She runs to Don, hoping that a man will step in and make the boys behave. But instead of being the knight in shining armor that swoops in and saves the day, he forces Peggy to handle it herself, barking, "You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself!"

In his own selfish way—of not wanting to get involved with bullshit that doesn't have anything to do with him—he empowers her. She tries to force an apology out of Joey, and when he shoots off another smart remark, she fires him.




Thinking now that she's the knight in shining armor who saved the damsel in distress, Peggy reveals the news to Joan. Joan isn't pleased.




In Joan's assessment, Peggy's power play only fucked things up at the office. "All you've done is prove to them that I'm a meaningless secretary and you're another humorless bitch." It's harsh, but she's right. Peggy's intentions were better than her understanding of male behavior, which seems to be Joan's area of expertise. While navigating the uncharted waters of being a career woman in a competitive industry full of boys bristling with entitlement, Peggy didn't heed Bobbie Barrett's advice: "You can't be a man. Be a woman. It's powerful business, when done correctly."