One story: The Sheik of Araby
The other story: Helen of Troy
But both stories are about using money to degrade women.
I’m the Sheik of Araby. Your love belongs to me.
At night, when you’re asleep, into your tent I’ll creep.
And then the stars that shine above will light our way to love.
Um, Sheik? Where I’m from, that’s not called love.
And this is not what one’s “champion” does:
Much of the Internet seems to have concurred that Joan was trapped in an impossible situation, and that Peggy kicked tuchus.
That both had money thrown at them, but that Peggy could not be bought. (But that Joan can’t be blamed for her decision bc, you know, being a woman.)
But the thing is, Peggy did have a price.
So here’s what gets to me about the two stories, Peggy and Joan:
Peggy wrote down LESS THAN CHAOUGH PLANNED TO PAY. She seriously undersold herself. I fear that she is walking into the same situation as she is leaving, angelic elevator light notwithstanding. An office where everyone can congratulate themselves on being enlightened enough to put a woman in charge (of what, by the way?). But no one, including the Copy Chief herself, really takes her seriously enough.
Peggy has been struggling heroically for a modicum of respect at SCDP and has earned, from her beneficent free-thinking boss, mentor, and “champion” nothing but contempt.
Peggy, you want to take credit for winning this new business? You want to maintain creative control over the idea that you made up and sold on the spot? Here’s a few bucks. Go buy yourself something pretty. It’ll help you feel better.
And then she says you throw money in my face? I’ll throw your own precious ethics back in yours.
But then his apparent sorrow makes her cry. I almost thought she’d lose resolve when faced with Don’s Big Sad Daddy face.
So while it was nice that she proved to Don that she couldn’t be bought, I can’t quite agree that she is the hero of this story.
Nor can I agree that Don’s kiss on her hand was as lovely as the Internet seems to think it was.
If I had the tech skills, which I don’t have time to learn for free, I’d do my own slideshow of Don’s face after she gave her notice. And I’d call it “Three Ways of Trying to Control a Smart Woman.”
1: Denial. No, you can’t be serious. I’ll just pay you more. What? How did self-interest enter your pretty little head? Wasn’t it filled with laxatives and pantyhose and worshipping and supporting me?
2: Anger. This one was fleeting, but definitely there. HOW DARE YOU BETRAY ME. AND WITH TED CHAOUGH. THAT’S JUST PERFECT. I expected it to take over, but it was quickly replaced by its insidious second cousin:
3. Outdated sexist condescension. Kissing her hand. Treating her like a, a what? A princess that you’re bringing a lion’s heart to, that her life may be saved and the fertility of the kingdom restored? Or like, maybe, an older lady? A daughter? I seriously have no idea what it might mean other than You are a nonsexual woman, maybe a little childlike, who will accept this meaningless gesture in lieu of actual respect because that’s what you’re used to, and if I act sad about it all that’s close enough to respect to let us all get by with our pants on. All I’m saying is that he wouldn’t kiss the hand of a dude who left his firm for a job with more management responsibilities.
I’m sure Don was actually sad. I am skeptical that he realizes that when she said “There is no price,” she meant he systematically failed to take her seriously. And that little glimpses of this failure–like when Ginzo’s name was nearly the only one in his gimme-an-award book, were quickly squelched by his own professional insecurities.
So I’m happy that Peggy got to sock it to ’em. I hope that it turns out better for her than I suspect it will. Because despite it all, she still cried when he got sad. And she still called him her champion.
And then there’s Joan.
All I’ll say about Joan is this: Every time she strides into a partners’ meeting—as a partner, not as an executive assistant—she knows that everyone knows how she got there.
That’s how much the stake and the vote were worth to her. And that’s how hopeless her prospects were of getting a stake and a vote any other way.