Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Mad Women” Book Review

By Samantha White

As a viewer of AMC’s “Mad Men” and a lover of all things 1960s, I was ecstatic to read Jane Maas’ “Mad Women: the Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the Sixties and Beyond.” In the book, Maas talks about specific campaigns she was involved with as a copywriter in New York (most notably, the “I Love New York” tourism campaign) and tells the stories of the few other female peers she had. While she makes references to “Mad Men,” she focuses on three main topics: how females were viewed in the office, the never-ending full-time employee and mother battle, and the struggles of being a woman in the industry back then.

According to Maas, women usually entered an ad agency as a typist or a secretary, then slowly worked their way up (if they desired to). The senior men in the agency would often make their rounds through the female groups, as if the women of the office were their personal pool of available dates. This included just about everyone and anyone, regardless of marital status. Maas informs us of the “Three-Martini Lunch,” explaining that senior employees rarely returned to the office from lunch sober, creating an office full of sexual tension and flirting.

Maas opens “Mad Women” by walking through her daily routine of working on Madison Avenue and explaining her priorities as a full time working mother. She is clear when she says that her career came first, followed by her husband, then her children. She was able to live this way because of her “lifeline,” her nanny/housekeeper, Mabel. Maas did what was required of her to get ahead, even if that meant leaving her family behind and says later that she wouldn’t go back and change her priorities if she could. However, many other working mothers interviewed in the book discuss the revolving door of daily guilt around not being with their children when at the office, and not working when at home with their families.

In addition to the working mother conflict, Maas writes about other difficulties facing women in the 1960s working world. Females made half the wages of their male counterparts and were rarely given raises. Maas explains that when given the opportunity to begin actually writing copy, she had to do so on her own time, as not to interrupt her typing duties. This meant prioritizing her career even more, and spending less time with her family. In the final chapter of “Mad Women”, Maas questions whether or not women are equals in the modern workplace. While Maas believes women have come a long way, she also thinks that we “still have a long way to go.”

Teen Heroines: Katniss vs. Bella (Part Two)

By Samantha White

I saw The Hunger Games movie this past weekend and while I didn’t love the storyline or the movie as a whole, I did absolutely fall in love with one character: Katniss Everdeen.

It’s not every day that you see a film become such a big hit AND have a strong female lead, especially a movie that features so many violent scenes. There are plenty of war-themed movies about men fighting for what they believe (Gladiator, Braveheart, 300), but rarely do we see one about women. Not only did Katniss fulfill this role in a blockbuster film, but she went above and beyond as a tough young woman.

In addition to coming out of the Games alive, she made sure her family would be taken care of while she was away. While being strong enough to survive, she was able to remain true to herself and her values. She cared for other tributes during the games, most notably a younger participant and an injured one. To top it off, she wouldn’t give in to what The Capitol wanted and stood up for what she thought was important.

Too many of today’s female characters are too much like Bella – a damsel in distress – and not enough like Katniss – a headstrong heroine. Hopefully she will spark a trend and young female audiences will have more positive and powerful role models to look up to.

Teen Heroines: Katniss vs. Bella

By Stephanie Milam

Two of the biggest teen series to hit the 21st century are without a doubt Twilight and The Hunger Games. Their main characters, Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen respectively, have since become role models, as well as household names, particularly with young tweens and teens. The problem we have, however, is that Bella does not represent the type of person young girls should aspire to be.

I read The Hunger Games series and the first two books of the Twilight Saga. Unlike Hunger Games, the reason I never got to the final two Twilight books was because I so strongly disagreed with codependent Bella being portrayed as a female heroine. Throughout the Twilight series, Bella goes through bouts of depression and nearly dies several times because of her love for vampire Edward, but ultimately survives due to Edward saving the day. Edward saves her by merely returning her affections when she’s depressed for weeks, and by actually protecting her against werewolves and other vampires. Bella, rather than prioritizing her health and well-being, becomes dependent on Edward for her happiness and, ultimately, her survival.

Bella’s character provides young teens with the impression that “love conquers all” when your only priority is being with that person. I would argue that your priority should be yourself by creating a well-balanced life, not a life that completely revolves around another person.

Strong courageous Katniss, on the other hand, I have no problem getting behind. Unlike Bella, Katniss prioritized the welfare of her family and her own survival, and pushed her romantic life aside until she had the capacity to deal with it. I believe Katniss proves to be the better role model for girls because she’s more emotionally balanced by not allowing the romantic attentions of young men to compromise her decision making.

 

 

***Because the OYM team is such a big fan of Katniss, there will be another post about her tomorrow – stay tuned!