“Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor. Because there is very little honor left in American life, there is a certain built-in tendency to destroy masculinity in American men.”
-Norman Mailer, from “Petty Notes on Some Sex in America,” which first appeared in Playboy magazine, and then in his 1966 collection, Cannibals And Christians.
Almost done working my way through Mad Men season 2 on DVD in preparation for tomorrow’s return of the show. One of the hardest storylines to deal with so far is that of Betty Draper, Don’s perfect wife who can’t help but evoke ideas of Grace Kelly. Her slow realization that Don’s been cheating on her is hard to take in as all the fragile little pieces of her world break. But then you start to get upset with her for having been so naive, and letting this occur literally right under her nose. But then you have to remind yourself of the place of women in the 50s and 60s and how there’s no way Betty could’ve known any different.
And on top of it, Don Draper is Don Draper. We want to see him screw around on his wife because, frankly, he’s just a cool guy. He makes a certain level of sleazy look good. He makes it glossy and sexy. It’s amazing what we’ll let a man get away with if we know he’s tortured on the inside.