Mad Men has captured the interest of the nation with its realistic picture window into life in the 1960’s. Men admire Don Draper’s power, both in business and with the women. Women pine over Don Draper, but would not want him as their philandering husband. Many of us would like to take a few days off and live in the shoes of the 60’s Mad Men cast, just to see what it was like.
Women were mostly the Betty Draper types, I don’t mean her personality, I mean her lifestyle. This time line is just on the cusp of the stay at home moms leaving home for the work place. Women today will say they don’t want to go back to the time when Peggy had to fight for even the smallest speckle of equality in the work place, and rightfully so, but other things came along with this that fell by the wayside.
Doors being opened, packages being carried, and chairs being pulled out, are just some the little things women gave up having done for them when moving past this decade. It was also a time when primping could go on for hours each day, unlike the five minute shower and out the door of today’s routines.
Dinner was not a chore, but more of an art for the women who “kept their homes for their husbands”. Cooking wasn’t rushed, it was started about 3 in the afternoon and completed to simmer or to stay warmed in the oven while the cocktail hour took place.
Before the Don Drapers came through the front door at night, the wife had changed into their feminine best, complete with full make-up and heels. The kids magically disappeared or were just barely seen and certainly not heard for the first hour of their father’s homecoming.
Money was not of the woman’s concern. The husband took care of the finances, and yes, the wife had to ask him for money for shopping or a new dress, but they were not spending tense hours doing the bills.
I remember my grandmother once telling me, “you show me a man who said he has never cheated on his wife, and I will show you a liar.” I was a young wife and mother at the time and was devastated by that remark. I would not accept that from my husband, (in fact a few years later he did cheat and I threw him out), but this is what the women of that day and age lived by. They expected infidelity and accepted it as a way of life.
It might have been a simpler time for women, not worrying about a job and a family, they concentrated on the home and family only. They didn’t work out of the house and made a nice home for their man. Infidelity was a factor built in to the marriage, so the heart breaking surprise was not there.
Peggy on Mad Men won’t accept the second class citizenship bestowed on a woman back then. Joan, the secretary, has made an art out of being a sex object in the work place. They were opposites, with the Peggy’s outlook eventually winning the race while the Joan’s of the 60’s slowly started falling into extinction.
Maybe I would like a few days at home cooking and primping, but I would also like a faithful husband at the end of the day. Would I like to try a day in the life of the Mad Men era, well, maybe just a few hours.
Reference: Mad Men Season 1-4