If You Got It, Flaunt It

--> -->
Helen Gurley Brown, the author of Sex and the Single Girl and former editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, recently died at the age of 90, leaving behind a long legacy of emboldening “a generation of women with her controversial views about female sexuality, and laid the groundwork for today’s sexualized fashion and celebrity culture.” In August 2012, Booth Moore wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times entitled “Helen Gurley Brown Leaves Behind Lusty,Busty Legacy." In this article, Brown is portrayed as a feminist trailblazer and the inspiration for characters like Carrie Bradshaw and of course, Mad Men’s Joan Holloway.

Moore briefly elaborates on Brown’s early professional life as an executive assistant at the Los Angeles based advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding, where she eventually became a copywriter (similar to the future career path of Joan). No information is given on how she became the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, but Moore does describe how Brown adamantly supported the use of scantily clad women on the cover of Cosmo to both bolster sales and promote the concept that women should own their sexuality.  

Quotes from Brown’s peers make up the majority of the article, and while these quotes further illuminate Brown’s modern views on sexuality, Moore does not connect them to the social implications of Brown’s actions. Moore does mention in passing that the new Cosmo covers sparked an interest in “Miracle bras”, but what about the reception of the covers. A more in depth analysis on Moore’s part would shed light on the various social implications of a woman embracing her body. This in turn would strengthen his argument about the connection between Brown and Joan by demonstrating how they let go of society’s traditional views surrounding women and endured society’s critiques in the pursuit of independence. Moore’s article fails at portraying how difficult it was for women to define themselves and not let a man’s perception of her define her.

Moore’s article is effective in that it adds more depth to a seemingly one-dimensional character by equating Joan to an early champion of women’s rights. In Season One of Mad Men, Joan is portrayed as the femme fatale of the office. Feminist is the last thing that comes to mind while we watch her purposefully ignite the passions of the men prying for her attention at Sterling Cooper (remember the Belle Jolie scene?). Moore’s article casts Joan in a different light. Suddenly her flirtatious smile and curve hugging dresses are not things for women viewers to envy, but something we should all be proud of, a woman in control of her sexuality.

1 comment:

  1. The opening of this blog intrigues me, for feminism and appearance play a great role in the series Mad Men. This blog made a strong connection to the creation of Joan's character in Mad Men through speaking about Helen Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. The Cosmopolitan Magazine portrayed women as beautiful and confident in their sexuality. In respect to Joan, she is an extremely confident woman in season one of Mad Men and flaunts her sexuality around the office. Joan’s character does “embrace her body”, however, she has obvious experience within the office lifestyle. After reading Booth Moore’s article titled Helen Gurley Brown Leaves Behind Lusty, Busty Legacy, I agree that the difficulty faced by women to gain independence is not addressed. As portrayed within season one of Mad Men, the women feed off of the way they are treated by the men. New women employees, such as Peggy Olson, do not know what to expect. Therefore, the experienced workers, such as Joan, show them the ropes of the office. I agree that Joan’s portrayal within season one is not very feminist because she does as the men want and openly tries to please them. Joan flaunts herself with her tight-fitting clothing and promiscuous walk through the office. The different views of Joan are intriguing to read about as Booth Moore takes a different approach to Joan’s personality. Moore believes that Joan’s confidence is important for women to possess in order to prove to men that they are comfortable with themselves and their sexuality. I enjoyed reading this blog as is explained multiple observations of the meaning behind Joan’s character within season one of Mad Men.