Modern Primate

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Say what you will about Jon Hamm’s good looks and confidence or the impressive style of costume designer Janie Bryant, but the character of Don Draper is no role model. The man is a rapist.

In Season 2, Episode 3, Don is upset about how comedian Jimmy Barrett has insulted a sponsor’s wife. Don has also been having an affair with Jimmy’s wife Bobbie, so the two are already more or less sexually acquainted. But while in the lady’s room, Bobbie tells Don that her husband doesn’t need to apologize, Don sternly tells her he is not happy, puts one hand behind her neck, his fingers inside her vagina, and tells her “do what I say.” You can see for yourself in this video clip. (Embedding disabled by request of AMC.)

Some might not realize that you don’t have to violently beat a woman in an alleyway for it to be rape. But there’s nothing admirably manly about molesting someone’s genitals as a way of exerting your dominance. It’s pretty simple, really.

Let’s stop pretending that Don Draper is an admirable character. Sure, the guy is portrayed as being sympathetic to black people and sympathetic to gay people, (you gotta keep him likable after all) but apparently being a horrible woman-hater is entirely forgivable for the show’s writers and audience.

So what do you think? Is Don Draper the paragon of masculinity you aspire to emulate? Or is he a monster you love to hate?

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  1. I’d like to offer a very limited defense of Don Draper’s actions here – specifically, that they’re not rape.

    Given that, at this point, he and Bobbie Barrett have already had at least one sexual encounter and that the tension between them appears to be driven at least in part by a sort of struggle for dominance, Draper here might have grounds for a reasonable belief that she consents to being physically dominated. Absent a “no,” which I’d like to stress absolutely would make this rape, his otherwise-reprehensible actions are nonetheless not rape.

    I also don’t think his misogyny is entirely forgivable for the show’s writers – as we wait for season five to start we’re looking at a character who has fallen from grace as a direct consequence of his marital infidelity who has not managed to achieve anything like redemption, and in fact the last thing we saw was probably a tragic misstep with women.

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