It was only a matter of time. Once Mad Men heroines Peggy and Joan rose to the upper ranks, it was inevitable that they'd face the sexism of more than just their peers: In the Mad Men Season 7 Part 2 premiere the duo dealt with some frat boy clients who were more interested in making double entendres about Joan's breasts than they were about having a productive meeting. Unfortunately, the sexist remarks towards Joan only brought out the worst in Peggy, whose insecurities were piqued by a junior copywriter offering to set her up with his wife's brother. But it wasn't all bad.
Of course, it started out pretty badly. When two women are forced with withstand glorified bros snickering about Joan's "twins" while making cracks about how she ought to work in brassiere advertising instead of underwear advertising while they're just trying to their damn jobs, things are in a pretty terrible state. But we have to remember that while Joan and Peggy have grown a lot since Joan was OK with telling Peggy she was "hiding a very attractive girl with too much lunch" back in Season 1, the rest of the world isn't as caught up. Our gals still have deal with these dopes.
What's worse is that these dopes tapped into something sensitive in Peggy: Her insecurities around comparing herself to Joan, resident sexpot. The two end up in an elevator after the meeting and the conversation that transpires is, to say the least, disheartening, but important:
Joan: "I don't expect you to understand."
Peggy: "You can't have it both ways. You can't dress the way you do ... [those guys] didn't respect me either."
Joan: "I don't dress the way you do because I don't look like you do and that's very, very true."
Peggy: "You're filthy rich and you don't have to do anything you don't want to."
It's a dirty last line because we know how Joan originally got her partnership in the company: By entertaining a wealthy client. Peggy clearly feels superior for not having used her appearance to get ahead, but later that day, she's asking Mathis to re-set her up with his wife's brother, after turning him down earlier in the day out of pride. Joan may be the resident sexpot, but at the end of the day, she's a powerful business woman too, bust-accentuating blouses or not. She seemingly enjoys both sides of the coin, but Peggy seems to see herself residing firmly on the more sensible side. It's not good. But something good did come out of this.
Peggy ends up going on a one-on-one date with Mathis' brother in law and it actually goes pretty great. At first, it seems like Peggy is in for your average no-nonsense woman turns dude off with her lack of patience for BS plotline: Her date gets the wrong dinner and when she tries to get him to send it back, he says, seemingly as a complaint, that "Johnny said you were the kind of girl that didn't put up with things." Uh oh.
But Peggy is beyond being sheepish at this point in her life and asks him what else Mathis said about her.
"He said that you're funny and fearless," he says. And just like that, Peggy is smiling and having a grand old time. By the end of the episode, she's agreed to go to Paris on a whim with this new guy, and decides to wait a little longer since make-out-chemistry aside, she wants to wait a little longer to sleep with him because she's decided he could be more than a fling. Of course, this new, fun Peggy is fueled by alcohol and the initial decision to go out was bred by jealousy of Joan's hold on men... and post-hangover Peggy seems to regret it all, it was nice to see something positive come out of what seemed to be a pretty terrible situation.
And it was nice to see Peggy doing something other than crying over Ted and her subsequent loneliness. Let's just hope she doesn't have any other slut-shaming one-liners for her partner in crime at SC&P.
Image: Ron Jaffe/AMC