In Clio Bluestocking’s “Not a Post about Mother’s Day,” she offers some interesting observations on the oddly vehement feelings about the Betty Draper character in Mad Men:
I’m not sure what to think of Mother’s Day, probably because I am not one nor care to be one. Mostly, I’m not sure what to think of Mother’s Day because the concept seems so divorced from reality. I know that it started as a day to protest war by politicizing motherhood, but the commodification and sentimentalization of Mother’s Day since World War I seems to have done more harm than good to everyone — mothers, perhaps, the most of all. Who wants to live in the shadow of that monster of an angel, the Perfect Mother?
I think, oddly, of Betty Draper on Mad Men. Not so much her as the reactions to her that I read on such blogs as What Alan’s Watching and Tom and Lorenzo. I don’t personally like the character; yet, at the same time, I also find her and the reactions to her fascinating. While the writers have her make decisions that fit her character — she, for instance, did not leave Don in the first season after she found out that he was spying on her psychotherapy, instead using that knowledge to manipulate him — most people who comment on the show project their own experiences as a mother or as a child onto her. People who respond to her with sympathy identify with her as a trapped woman who hasn’t bought into the romanticism of motherhood. People who loathe her respond to her as children who were raised by an unhappy mother.
I don’t think the connection Clio B. makes is so odd. I’ve noticed the same bi-polar reactions to her character. I also find that Betty gets judged by viewers according to the range of possible choices available to women in 2010 rather than 1963. Continue Reading »