Retro-Sexism in AMC's Mad Men: A Tale of Two Women

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According to Katixa Agirre, and Black and Driscoll, AMC’s Mad Men contains what Douglas (2010) calls retro-sexism. Retro-sexism, has a damaging effect on its audience as it leads viewers marvel at the outrageous and unpunished sexism, leaving them feeling morally superior to the series’ characters. Mad Men is said to undermine feminist values by mourning and glamorizing the sexist pre-feminist world, whilst simultaneously instilling the idea that sexism is something that is isolated in the past, and something that “we just do not do anymore.” In order to defend the following thesis statement: “Rather than mourning the pre-feminist world and damaging feminist perspectives of viewers through implementation of retro-sexism, AMC’s Mad Men offers a critique of the pre-feminist world through the narrative arc of Joan and Peggy, and encourages its audience to reconsider the position of sexism in contemporary society by confronting it with forms of sexism that are still prevalent in contemporary society” this thesis starts by defining the concept of retro sexism using theory by feminist theorists such as Agirre, Black and Driscoll, Douglas (2010), Whelehan, Gill, and authors such as Williamson, and Mendelsohn. After which it employs both an observational research method to analyze a series of episodes, and analyses of the narrative arcs of two female characters based on articles written by feminist theorists such as Laura Mulvey, Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, and as Fiona Cox.
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