by Sarah Fader
Don Draper is the notorious womanizer and powerful advertising man on the show Mad Men. On the surface Don has an idyllic lifestyle. At the start of the series, he is married to the stunningly beautiful Betty Draper who stays home with his two children. The two appear to have a great marriage; however Don is a notorious philanderer in his office. The ad boys know that Draper is skillful at seducing woman of all types. During the course of the series, Don sleeps with a plethora of women. Some of them are married; some of them are single. Some are artists, some are writers, others are businesswomen. Draper sleeps with all of them with barely any effort.
It’s a shame really that these women are fooled by his charm. He is a duplicitous cheating, married man. Yet, he is an appealing character. He is complex and charismatic. As the series progresses, we learn more about the reasons that Draper is the way that he is. He has had a tormented childhood and probably suffers from PTSD, though I can’t officially diagnose him because he is a fictional character and I’m not a medical professional.
What is bothersome about Draper, however, is that he is rewarded for his philandering behavior; the fact that he is able to sleep with all these various women is looked at as an achievement by his colleagues and friends in New York City.
When I watch the series, I can’t help wondering – what if Don Draper was a woman?
Let’s call her Donna Draper. If Donna were a married woman living in the 1960’s covertly sleeping with every man she could manage to seduce, she would be ostracized from her community. She would not be looked at as desirable, but rather as a prostitute.
Don Draper is a married man who is actively cheating on his spouse and he is glamourized.
The question is: why are we idolizing Don Draper? The answer is simple: because he is a man. Our society has yet to get past its inherent misogyny. We still believe that women should behave a certain way. We still think that women who have casual sex should be labeled in a pejorative way.
The more I have pondered the idolization of Don Draper, the angrier I have become. He should be seen for what he is – Don Draper is a slut. He needs to go to therapy and work on why he keeps cheating on his wife and stop thinking he is the best thing since sliced bread.
Additionally, our society has some work to do on how we view women. Now, if Donna was not married, would we think it’s okay for her to sleep with multiple partners? Single women can enjoy sex without being judged for it.
It starts with Donna Draper.
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Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She is an author and blogger, having been featured on Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.
Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.
Visit Sarah at www.sarahfader.com.