Mad Men Peggy Olson and the eternal fight for equal rights

If accepting the end of a TV series is an experience in itself, learning to live with the awareness of its imminent removal from the catalog Netflix can be even more traumatic . When we talk about a series like Mad Men , then, the matter becomes more complicated, because in addition to being a historical show, it is a work that still does not it stops offering a strong point of view on the reality we live in.

Needless to say, regarding the series, I could not help but notice that one of the most current dynamics ever (if we do not consider the crazy centrality of advertising in our life and the fact that now even corks are sold with slogans on the new normal) is the one that characterizes the entire evolution of the character and career of Peggy Olson , or an ambitious and competent woman in a extremely male-centric working world.


From secretary to young copywriter, to becoming chief editor of the agency in its various incarnations, Peggy Olson is “one of those girls”, as she is called several times in course of the show, or a career girl, a young woman who has chosen the challenges of a professional career in the New York metropolis to the stability of a modest job or a life as a wife, housewife and mother in some residential suburb. In short, Peggy Olson is one of those girls who does not want to work for men, but with men.

But while his difficult job ascent, in a decade of social and political changes such as the sixties, in the end can only acquire the strong taste of victory, I could not help but think that today should not be so and that making success for a woman should be a completely different experience.

Yet the story of Peggy Olson is still very current and able to speak transversely to today's career girls. The reason is that if his character continued to stand out over the seven seasons of the series for his resilient ability to evolve, the same cannot be said of the surrounding world. Despite the efforts and unquestionable conquests, Peggy continues to be surrounded by men who are unable (through negligence or will) to fully recognize her talent and to relate to her with the professional dignity she deserves and which she would certainly reserve if she were a man (see: Don Draper ).

From Roger who, once left alone in the now bare office of SC&P , continues to treat her as a secretary and ask her to answer the phone or to run errands, to the treatment that McCann reserves during the move and, even earlier, in the transition from the sixth to the seventh season, when we see her expectations discouraged for the umpteenth time, after being able to take a seat in the chair of Don Draper and then find himself employed by Lou Avery , yet another director creative indifferent to his talent.

In a world that for too long has tried to reduce the identity of the woman to the dichotomy Marilyn vs Jackie , both too expressions of male desire, being a Peggy (or even a Gertrude Stein as they joke in the show) is still considered an uncomfortable role. Because, too many times, we are forced to defend our position or to request constant approval to feel legitimized in the professional role we play. And, still too often, we have to do twice as much work to get even half the visibility that a man has at our same level, all against the background of a pay gap that shows no sign of decreasing significantly .

Yet, in my experience, being a Peggy or a Joan or simply a woman who wants to have the same job opportunities as men is not a choice, just as it is not to continue to fight to make the world (professional and otherwise) a better place for us and for the generations to come .

Who knows, maybe the next time that Mad Men will reappear in the catalog Netflix or some other service streaming, we can finally relate to it and think about how different things used to be.

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