Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mad Men, The View, and Blow Jobs



If you saw Episode 6 of Mad Men, you heard Megan's sexy French mother tell her that she should solve her problems with Don by placating him with sex and reminding him that he is her top priority. We see Megan desperately try to save her marriage by wearing a little less fabric, talking less, and getting on her knees. In past episodes, Megan has talked about whatever is on her mind; assured that Don will listen and offer some feedback or advice. Sometimes he has, but lately he just stares zombie-like into the distance, thinking of his mistress a couple floors away.

That isn't really Megan's problem, however. What do I mean by that? Don is the person who is pulling away and he should be held responsible for his lack of communication. His passive aggressive behavior towards Megan makes it abundantly clear that he is not committed to working on the marriage. But instead of Megan confronting him and asking why he is upset and what he is thinking, she is expected to comfort him. Despite the fact that she is the one who has been left in the cold.

A few days later, I watched The View on Hulu (There wasn't a new Daily Show to watch) and I heard Sherri Shepherd and Patricia Heaton endorse the "blow jobs for conflict revolution" advice featured in Mad Men, a show about the 1960s.

This was also a reaction to a statement Gwyneth Paltrow made earlier: "One of my friends was like, 'I got in a big fight with my husband and I went home and I just wanted to scream and yell,' and I said, 'Whatever you're feeling, do the opposite. Go at him with love and you give him a blowjob.'"

Sherry Shepherd asked Heaton, "In Hot Topics, we were talking about keeping your man happy. Do you need to stay on your knees? You've been married for a long time."

"It's very simple. It's very simple. It's exactly what Gwyneth said," Heaton replied. "I had an actor say to me once, 'All men want you to do is to blow a kiss in the direction of our...' They're very simple, they like long hair, which is why I'm growing mine out, and they like uh, affection."

It's always a sad moment when relationship advice for women in the 1960s mirrors relationship advice for women in 2013.

Here is the main takeaway. When all of these women, real or fictional, were faced with a relationship problem, they saw it as solely their problem. Arguments don't fall out of the sky. People have intense arguments for a reason. Something is wrong and it needs to be addressed. It appears that none of the women involved thought problems with their husbands were shared problems, or even a problem that he was responsible for creating. But no matter who is more responsible for facilitating the problem that led to the fight, both people need to communicate if they are to work on their marriage or relationship.

It's not sage advice. That's common sense. Ignoring problems doesn't make them go away. If you're angry with your husband, and you give him a blow job, he's not angry anymore. But you are. The problem momentarily disappeared for one person. Hardly a success story. In this scenario, only one person's feelings count, and they are those of the husband's.

This is a reflection of a much bigger assumption: That women are the stewards of relationships. Even today, women don't expect men to communicate and work on the larger problems within their relationship. The solution is to sacrifice so that you don't give him a reason to argue with you. Not once have I heard a man on television suggest that a husband ought to consider giving his wife make-up oral sex. But in one week I hear four television stars and one movie star advise women to give their husbands blow-jobs to resolve fights. Clearly the expectation as to who will mend the relationship is still on the woman's side.

We need to stop putting all of the onus of maintaining our relationships on ourselves. We can never carve out an equal place for ourselves in our personal lives if we take all responsibility for our relationships and friendships' failures. Ask something of your significant other now and then. Don't be Megan Draper.



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