My Fantasy Night With 'Mad Men's' Joan
CHRISTINA WAYNE: How I Differ From Joan
I'm not a Joan. Far from it. I'm a Peggy with attempts to wear my squareness on the inside. Joan is the girl I judged for sleeping with her married boss, pitied when she allowed her fiance to rape her on the office floor, marveled from afar the gravitational pull of the male gaze toward her melon breasts and zaftig form. She wasn't the type of girl I'd befriend, either. She was all Marilyn when I tended to seek out Jackies.
A river of generational and opportunity divide Joan and me -- or so I thought until the "A Night to Remember" episode. Joan takes on the task of reading scripts for the TV department handling broadcast operations. She does a great job, only to find out after the fact a guy has been hired. She was never considered. Her response? A smile. That night, alone in her bedroom, the weight of her disappointment appears as a deep red mark on her shoulder caused by her constricting bra strap. Surprisingly, I wept for Joan … and then for me (I was going through my own prickly work situation) and our shared feminine burden.
Gender issues at work are now far subtler and unspoken but still leave painful marks. It's the differences in the way Joan and I respond to these issues that set us apart. In a WSJ article, the Frontier Communications CEO raises this issue: "Men selectively listen," Mary Agnes Wilderotter says. She recalls making points in boardrooms, then watching the group take note of a male later saying the same thing. "When that happened, I'd stop and say, 'Do you realize I said that 10 minutes ago?' Women have to take responsibility for the dynamic around them; you can't just say, 'Woe is me.' "
When similar situations have arisen for me, I've always spoken up. But I've suffered the consequences of speaking your mind versus taking the victim route like Joan. When that happens, you question yourself -- should I have just smiled? No. I have a 2-year-old daughter, Auden. If I just smile, where does that leave her? So I don't see Joan anymore across the river on a distant shore but a drowned Ophelia sucked under by her girdle cage and myself in the river fighting against the tide, carrying my 2-year-old daughter safely to shore. As I place her down, I urge her to run, as I have so many times as she's dashed down our street toward home. "Run, dear Auden, run, but don't look back, you might fall."
Wayne is president of Cineflix Studios and was AMC's senior vp scripted series at the time of Mad Men's launch