"As the director of the “I Love New York” campaign and winner of “Advertising Woman of the Year,” it’s fair to say that Jane Maas knows her stuff. Maas was a copywriter and then creative director at Ogilvy, a prestigious advertisement agency on Madison Avenue during the later third of the 20th century and has written Adventures of an Advertising Woman and How to Advertise (ie the advertiser's bible). These two texts are revered worldwide for their insight on the craft that is advertisement, and she, along with Ken Roman are renown for their genius. They were among the best of the best. In her latest publication Mad Women: The Other Side of Madison Avenue in the '60s and Beyond, however, Maas removes her hat as Advertiser Extraordinaire and gives us the inside scoop on the Mad World as a Working Woman.
Quick fact: According to Jane, high-powered women never took their hats off in the office. Ever. It conveyed status. “It’s one of the rare bits of costuming that Mad Men gets wrong” (Maas 128). Just saying.
In short, all of our guesses about the frequency of sex, drinking, smoking, belittlement, infidelity, and strife in the lives of the Mad Men are true.
In a chapter entitled “Sex in the Office,” Jane says that most women of the time agree that there was more sex than on the show. More! She also begins with a humorous, little anecdote about a brilliant female advertiser who resided in Connecticut with a three-year-old child. Jane asks her about the sex in her office building, and the woman tells her that she most definitely engaged. Her name? Joan. Coincidence? Probably not.
As depicted on the show, people were rather nonchalant about sex because the Pill was brand new and freely prescribed. In addition, “sexual harassment” wasn’t an issue, as the climbing-the-corporate-ladder perk of an office rendezvous was all too tempting to copywriters and secretaries, and the idea of Human Resources, a place one would go to report an incident today, hardly existed.
Maas also goes into much detail about substance abuse. Mad Men does a fairly good job of replicating the prevalence of alcohol, but she cannot remember a time when anyone partook in morning shots. Also, Draper and Sterling keep bottles on their desks, but Maas describes a highly utilized executive dining room that carried “every liquor imaginable” (Maas 111). For free. But even though employees had easy access, she can only recall one person with a severe problem with alcoholism. He happened to be a wonderful and successful creative director. Is this not reminiscent of big shots Don’s and Roger’s excessive drinking habits?
In her “A Day on Madison Avenue, 1967” chapter, Maas recounts her average day. It consisted of many, many cigarettes. Of course the daily grand total fluctuated, but she lit at least three before 8:15. A lesser “advertised” form of smoking was with marijuana, but it was absolutely present in the office and at home among the younger folk.
Lastly, and by far most interestingly, Jane Maas bares her soul in this book. In truth, I can imagine many a Mad Woman fervently nodding their heads in agreement or even shaking their fists in fury from remembering the lifestyle as they read “Have You Really Come Such a Long Way, Baby,” the final chapter in Maas’ book. She admits that her career came before her husband which came before her daughters. She never really worried about housekeeping or cooking because she had a maid. (One she loved and considers part of the family--a second mother to her children, if you will--but a maid just the same).
Maas reveals that both the stay-at-home and working mother lived unsatisfied lives.
Jane calls stay-at-home moms “trapped...because they graduated from Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe and Vassar and Smith, got married and ...vanished. They had no identity apart of being somebody’s wife and somebody’s mother. So as they hung their laundry on the line in their suburban backyards, they gnashed their teeth” (Maas 215). For those of you who loathe Betty and the other housewives, consider this.
And as a working mother, she talks about the pure anger. “Almost every woman...especially working mothers told me how angry she felt about being torn part, and how much she reproached herself for underperforming in all her roles” (217). She also argues that it’s very, very possible that times haven’t changed, hence the chapter title. She proves this through her chronicle through the ages and the different kinds of mothering method each decade brought. Her analysis is poignant; surprisingly modern with mentions of Tina Fey’s mothering experiences, the helicopter mom, and dependence of an iPad; and finally, rather tragic. She concludes, how “shocking” she finds it that successful career women in their prime are quitting their jobs to stay at home, leaving their lives for rearing children and the money making to their husband; thus, there is no happy medium. Maybe being a family woman and a professional one is mutually exclusive. Her disheartening and baffling (I thought this balance was what being a modern woman was all about!) conclusion is so, so profound. I firmly believe it will resonate with every current or future wife, husband, daughter, son, employee, and employer. (Read: This means everyone).
Now, a moment of honesty from me: I may have mislead you in the beginning of this post. I told you she took a step back from her advertising ways, but as we see in Don Draper, an advertiser never leaves his or her work in the office. Maas’ struggle is evident and should be shared, her capitalization of our beloved AMC hit series’ success is certainly an example of this constant desire to sell and profit. But nonetheless, Mad Women is special. While this certainly does not apply to any of us Maddicts, this book would appeal to those who have little to no knowledge of the series. Currently it stands among few as a publication devoted to Mad Men, but what really makes Mad Women an essential read is Maas’ thoughtful, humorous, and honest take on the never-ending conflict of being a woman of any time period: balancing a life, a family, and a career--and not necessarily in that order.
Maas, Jane. Mad Women: The Other Side of Madison Avenue in the 60s and Beyond. New York: Thomas Dunnes Books, 2012. Print.
(Picture from Macmillan)