The Slut Machine of 1962


It took me all day, but I finally realized the one thing that’s bugging me about the latest This Recording post on Mad Men. It’s the part about how Peggy, “like most intelligent women, she prefers the company of sleaze.”

This statement is not false, but I’d like to open it up a bit. Peggy, of course, doesn’t see Pete as sleaze. Even if she rationally knows that he is a sleazeball, she probably doesn’t even acknowledge to herself that the reason why she has feelings for him, rather than the nice blue-collar guy her mom set her up with––or even the college boy she let grop her in the hallway outside Kinsey’s party––is because he’s actually a lower specimen than them. He has the ability to make her feel bad about herself––just by being himself––so she probably thinks he must be a catch (remember: this girl was in denial about being pregnant until the day the baby popped out.) All she consciously knows is that he’s the only person in that goddamn office who has the ability to make her feel powerless (read: to feel like a woman).

Add this together with Andrew Johnston's suspicion (which I share) that Peggy's nemesis, bombshell Joan, “doesn’t really enjoy sex at all,” and that makes Peggy the only girl in the entirety of Mad Men's universe who has ever fucked for pleasure with a brazen disregard to consequence that could sort of be confused with feminism. (Even Midge, of course, was constantly careful not to let Don get too close, with her warnings, “I don't make plans, and I don't make breakfast.”) That means Peggy is –– say it with me now –– THE SLUT MACHINE OF 1962.