Interesting article over at The Frisky. This one is about Mad Men’s Don Draper and his supposed S & M fetish.
It’s important to note that no where in the interview with Mad Men’s creator Matt Weiner does he state that Don is into S & M.
“Don’s relationship — and [the] women in his life’s relationship[s] — between power and sex is very closely linked. And I think it’s part of the human experience. I think it’s an animal thing. Powerful men in particular seem to want to be controlled sexually. … I think what you’re seeing is that they do have a vibrant sex life, and she is controlling that part of it, and he likes it. And it’s the way they fight. And it’s kind of her saying to him, ‘You want to be this way? Then you can’t have this,’ and on some level wanting him to realize that he won’t get it. And what I love about it, and what I think is fresh, is that this woman is not judged afterward. It’s very rare for a woman to express that kind of sexual confidence and control and not be the prostitute, and be somebody’s wife and be in a relationship afterward. I’m both sexualizing their relationship and explaining her status in the relationship.”
Okay, but…Don does get it. Megan, his wife, does like to taunt him with the possibility that he might not be able to have sex with her should he continue to be the self-centered twat that he is. But she always gives in to him. It’s not as though she’s controlling him at all. More like she’s just issuing empty threats because she’s a child and that’s how children argue. It’s not so much a submissive/dominant dynamic as it is a parent/child dynamic. Megan is willfull, but it’s an act. There is no maturity or even distribution of power or control to Don and Megan’s relationship. Don is the one in control throughout. In fact, Don exerts a disturbing level of control over Megan. Megan was a failed actress who worked some entry level job at Don’s agency. Of course she’s going to find Don impressive. That’s part of the plan. Don is a damaged human being with a woefully fragile ego. He will never be with an equal.
I wonder if when women swoon over Jon Hamm they’re really expressing attraction to Don Draper. Hamm seems humble and sweet in interviews. And, of course, he’s quite handsome. I’m not saying all women actually want Don and not Jon. However, I genuinely believe what really draws some women to Hamm is the darker side to Don Draper’s personality.These women will never admit it, but only because, I believe, they aren’t aware of it.
Don is a narcissist. That’s what compels him to be so assertive and confident. He has to win. If you notice, he flames out whenever a client doesn’t immediately take to his campaign suggestions. He has to have the last word. Any blow like this to his ego throws him off his game. That’s why the women he chooses are noticeably weaker – emotionally, physically, professionally – than he is. He can not take on an equal. He has to be the dominant partner at all times.
Speaking of which…
Have you read or at least heard of this Fifty Shades of Grey book? I begrudgingly read it for a book club I’m involved in and am still seeing red. Even more so when I went to the club and half the girls thought this guy would have been relationship material in the real world. I would almost go so far as to say the book is dangerous to girls and young women. I guess as someone once involved in an extremely destructive emotional sub/dom relationship in my mid 20s…the only thing good about it was it made me go to therapy to see just how fucked up the situation was. Just thought I’d throw it out there…might make an interesting blog post.
There was quite a hub bub last week over Katie Roiphe’s article in Newsweek. In the piece, she suggested that maybe some women, especially those who like to identify as feminists, actually secretly long to surrender in some way to a man like Christian Grey, the lead character in Fifty Shades of Grey. Roiphe suggests that that is part of the fascination with this book. I’m suggesting, though I doubt I’m the first, that that’s also part of the appeal that Mad Men has for some women.
As strong and as independent as we are, there’s something about these types of dysfunctional men that we find attractive. We like to battle these men and need to believe we can break them down so that we can feel as though we dominated them. But in order to get to that place we must endure incredible amounts of pain, shame and humiliation. We’re drawn to the psychological warfare these men provide, unaware if how truly damaged and damaging these men usually are. We mistakenly find them charismatic. These men aren’t charming or cunning or even smart. They are broken individuals. We should fear these men but we don’t.
Ever since the book Fifty Shades of Grey made a splash, there’s been a lot more talk about “kinky” bedroom behavior and submissive/dominant relationships. To me, there’s a difference between intentionally engaging in or taking a submissive or dominant role and just having sex with someone who likes to hurt or humiliate. It unsettles me at how often the two types of relationships get conflated.
In my mind, true healthy sub/dom relationships involve a high level of communication and emotional maturity. Those relationships, to me, seem far more psychological than physical. They have to be in order to work. Each partner has control and exercises it when they choose.
Don and Megan, in my mind, are not acting out some S & M fantasy. I don’t think either one of them have the intelligence or self-awareness required to understand their dynamic, let alone exploit it for their personal sexual pleasure.
I don’t consider Don to be dominant. I think he’s a bully. And bullies are just cowards. I’m not saying that dating a guy like that can’t be intriguing for awhile. It can. Until, of of course, it becomes exhausting and destructive. (And those situations always become destructive.) I just wish that some people would stop trying to justify their attraction to guys like Don or Christian Grey as being part of some sexual fantasy. I think it goes much deeper than that.
I don’t think it’s a desire to be dominated that gets some of the more strong, independent women off. I think the attraction stems from a personal self-loathing or a need to be punished or an addiction to drama. We’re not turned on by how they dominate us. We’re not even aroused. In those cases, we are not choosing to be dominated. We have no choice at all. We’re stripped of our control rather than willingly surrendering it.
That, to me, is the difference between a “kinky” sub/dom relationship and simply being attracted to assholes. That’s what many of these faux sub/dom situations are: just a woman who likes being treated like shit hiding behind sexual desire and empowerment.