Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fictional characters: Joan Harris (née Holloway)

The character
Joan Holloway is one of the strongest female characters in Mad Men. At the beginning of the series she is a girl with a plan: she is getting married to a good catch. However, her professionalism and degree of poise makes a person to count on so, as the series progresses, we see the partners relying more and more on her knowing what, how and when to do things. When she is finally leaving to get married, both she and them lament it.
Her predicament is very much that of many women in her time. The main objective was to get married, leave the life of the working "girl" and become a wife and mother: that was the deal. She find, however, very much as many women of her time did, that the deal is not upheld by the other party in it. Being married doesn't put you out of harm's way of sexual assault, or betrayal of trust, like when your husband makes a decision about your future without you, or when you not only have to keep on supporting yourself, but also your husband, all the time feeling that your job is of secondary importance to his.
There are three very poignant moments for me in the series around Joan Holloway. In the first, she is passed over for a promotion by a man with no experience, when she is actually qualified for the job (she has a university degree) and already doing it to great success: she has the image, the manners and the savoir faire for the job. In the second, she is raped by her knight in shining armour, the handsome doctor who is in reality a coward and a wimp. In the third, she is being disrespected by one of the creatives in the firm, but the guy ends up being fired by his direct boss, another of the strong female characters in the series. She reacts angrily and bitterly: she would have liked to yield herself power in the usual indirect ways (aka feminine wiles), so she resents the woman who can afford not to do so. From her point of view, she has been rendered virtually powerless. We may beg to disagree.

What would Joan wear... for work

Coast Emmy Crêpe Dress / Bottega Veneta Double-faced Belted Cashmere Coat / Givenchy New Line Handbag / L.K. Bennett Selina Pumps / Hermès L'Ombrelle Magique Scarf in Orange / Versace Long Leather Gloves / Paco Rabanne Vintage Charm Bracelet / Debenhams Gold Rose Crystal Earrings / Lapis Lazuli and Diamond Brooch/Pendant (vintage at / Estée Lauder Crystal Herringbone Powder Compact / Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Heat Wave / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Scarlet Chinois.
The lines
The pragmatist
"Go home, take a paper bag, cut some eyeholes out of it. Put it over your head, get undressed and look at yourself in the mirror. Really evaluate where your strengths and weaknesses are. And be honest."
The realist
"That’s life. One minute, you’re on top of the world. The next, some secretary is running over your foot with a lawn motor."
The irate
"What on God’s green earth are you doing here?"

1 comment:

  1. Hi and nice to meet you and a great article!
    I am in love with Joan! :)