If you’re not caught up in the American TV series Mad Men, you might be inclined to skip this post. However, I’ll posit that you may want to stick around for a few more lines of text as I look at just why a guy can be so stereotypically, pathologically messed up to women, and still have women look at him and say “I’d tap it.”
It’s not as simple as saying women want their masculine partners to be more macho assholes, than sensitive househusbands. Or that wealth and success, and borderline sexual abuse makes men hotter: it might be true for some girls, but only if you’re the kind of girl who wants to hook up with dudes like Joe Francis. The whole “sexist versus feminist” thing is so retarded. Trust me: from reading hundreds (now thousands) of explicit erotic short stories written by women for the past 5-6 years (for Best Women’s Erotica), female sexuality has changed beyond the cheap assumption that feminism “went too far” and must now become inverse. That’s like trying to explain a woman’s desire for sexual submission by saying it is the nature of her gender to desire it. What, then, about the successful and powerful businessman’s desire for sexual submission? It’s not just a trope; ask any dominatrix how she bought her last house (and put herself through college). After watching trends in women’s erotica, I’m more inclined to say that sexual determination is more the nature of our gender. We women no longer feel the need to apologize for demanding what we want sexually — including when that demand is for submission, or to live the fantasy of “sex object.”
Which might bring us back to Mad Men, and their jerk-ass swaggering male anti-heroes. Don Draper’s interpretation of women is in black and white; Madonnas or whores. Emily Nussbaum on NY Mag writes in Working the Street, “By last year’s finale, he was screaming, “You’re a whore, you know that?” at his soon-to-be-ex-wife. And post-divorce, he’s been hiring pros to slap him (…) But in Don’s work life, he’s the whore. (…) Prostitution is to Mad Men what vampirism is to True Blood, a metaphor that sloshes in everywhere, juicing the most innocent interactions. It blurs the boundaries between every power dynamic: between men and women, secretaries and bosses, clients and “creatives.”
So what’s the secret of Don Draper’s sex appeal? In Greta Christina’s Carnal Nation article Bad Boys and “Mad Men”: What Do Women Want? I finally find an answer that makes sense, and much more:
For one thing: Don Draper isn’t a standard Bad Boy. He’s not a conventional Lothario, chasing tail indiscriminately, purely for his own sexual and ego satisfaction, with no interest in women as people, and no recognition of their equal humanity. For starters, he has more than a kernel of genuine respect for women—certainly way more than any other male character on the show. He’s the one who recognized Peggy Olson’s talents as a copywriter, and who helped her repeatedly in her pioneering climb up the Sterling Cooper ladder. (Help that often came in complicated and ambiguous ways, to be sure—but help nonetheless.) Not to mention his singular, impassioned, entirely necessary support of Peggy during her time of terrible need. That was an act of pure human compassion and friendship… one that transcended gender.
And look at his taste in women. Every woman Don cheats on his wife with is intelligent, independent, unconventional, and in some way defiant of traditional gender roles. Proto-feminists, one might even call them. (In fact, I’m wondering now if part of the Don Draper fantasy has to do with wanting to be one of the strong, edgy, fascinating women he gets the hots for.) What’s more, he has a genuine emotional connection with these women, a connection he’s largely lacking with his [ex]wife, Betty… and a connection that seems to be a major part of why he pursues these affairs. And this taste in women is, I think, a huge part of the attraction. It’s not about him being a sexist throwback to a time when Men Were Men. It’s about him being a complicated man who’s drawn to strong, interesting women. (…read more, carnalnation.com)