A few weeks ago I got really obsessed with the show Mad Men, which provides a pretty interesting snapshot of the advertising industry in the early 1960s. And because I think the creators wanted to depict the time period accurately, it’s incredibly sexist. I’ve caught myself muttering expletives at the male characters on my TV more than once in the past week.
That being said, I still like the show and find it pretty intriguing. I like to think that it illustrates how far we’ve come as a society.
Or does it?
Somewhere during the first season, Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), who is arguably the most independent female on the show, opts to go on birth control. The doctor who prescribes the medication condescendingly addresses her and says that she better not think that being on birth control makes it okay for her to whore herself out. Peggy, who is still pretty timid and docile at this point, urges the doctor that she’s not that kind of girl.
So when this birth control debate exploded a few months ago, all I could think was “really? Is this really something people are still bickering about?”
In 2012, 50 plus years after the time period of Mad Men, some people still think that being on birth control inherently makes you sleazy (Rush Limbaugh, anyone?) and all that Planned Parenthood does is perform abortions. Or maybe they’re indifferent about birth control, but as an employer they sure as hell don’t want it covered on their female employee's insurance.
Mad Men takes place in a time period that seems extremely outdated for the most part. Segregation ended a long time ago, homophobia is slowly diminishing, we can say with scientific certainty that cigarettes are harmful, and I like to think that being a chick in today’s society doesn’t disadvantage me in any of the ways it did for Peggy Olson.
But after hearing both sides of the birth control debate and then watching Mad Men nonstop, I see that we haven’t made as much progress as I had originally thought. Besides putting power in the hands of women, birth control can have a wide array of added benefits. It’s definitely not for all women, but I firmly believe that it should be a realistic option.
Our country has a plethora of other problems to tackle. Peddling backward and trying to argue against birth control is a poor use of time in my opinion, something continuous episodes of Mad Men made me realize.