Don Draper Isn’t Sexy

Yes, I’ve gone and said the unthinkable. That fine piece of meat that struts around our television screens every Sunday is not sexy.

Yes, Don Draper is charismatic. Yes, Don Draper looks insanely good in a suit. Yes, Don Draper is intelligent. Yes, Don Draper is creative.

But Don Draper is an asshole.

And that just isn’t sexy.

We’ve known from season 1 of Mad Men that Dapper Draper treats women like objects. He sluts around on his wife but god forbid she wear a bikini to a bbq.  When she does, he humiliates her. I guess he forgot that Betty was once a Versace model.

And I guess we’re supposed to believe that Don is becoming a better man now that he’s married to another woman. He’s trying not to cheat on Meg, so let’s give the man a round of golf claps.

And while this season has made it clear that he and Megan love to play dominate/submissive games in the bedroom, it’s also clear that’s the only place Megan wants to play them. Don’s attempting to be progressive and let her have her own career, but his facade is quickly cracking and his supportive statements to his wife are always laced with insults of how much her choices are hurting his pride.

Draper is a creative guy and society leads us to believe that creative types are willing to adapt to new ideas. Don Draper isn’t that type of creative.  Having a mistress in the Lower East Side or a young wife in a mini-skirt is as progressive as Don gets.

Like women, forward-thinking is an accessory to Don Draper.

And that is why Don Draper will never be wholly sexy to me. He cannot see past himself and his knowledge of the world. When he encounters something new and different, he doesn’t try to learn about it – he tries to control it and if he can’t control it then he humiliates it.

This is evident in his treatment of Peggy Olson. In the last episode, she calls herself his ‘protegé’ but Peggy has never been his protegé. She can’t be his protegé. She is a woman. And while he may have given her a chance when other man wouldn’t, it was a chance he could control. If someone is your protegé then at some point you expect them to fully take over for you. Don would never allow Peggy to take over for him. He doesn’t believe she can. She’s a woman. No woman could ever be the next Don Draper.

Of course, it is obvious to everyone watching the show that Peggy Olson is just as savvy as Don, if not more so.

We’ve seen Peggy make attempts to stand up to Don since season 1. Typically, he succeeds in putting her ‘in her place’ but not in last night’s episode. Peggy saves a major account for the ad agency but Don wants to give the glory to her male subordinate. When Peggy stands up for herself, Don throws money in her face and essentially says ‘Fine, do what you want!’

Don throws money at Peggy

Don Draper, ladies and gentlemen – the best dressed five-year old on television.

And that just isn’t sexy.

A few scenes later, Peggy tells Don she’s leaving for another agency. Don at first responds with ‘yeah right’ and then with ‘Let’s pretend I haven’t been the cause of everything good that’s ever happened in your life.’

And this is where we circle back to my earlier point of Don not being able to see past himself.

He cannot accept that anyone, especially women, are whole people deserving of autonomy and respect. He cannot fathom that they have any vitality beyond what he has cultivated in them.  He cannot imagine that they exist when he leaves the room.

And that just isn’t sexy.

Catch last night’s episode of Mad Men on Amazon

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