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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Colette Fitzpatrick: Why do smart and empowered women still fall for Don Draper types?

Mad Men's Don Draper
Mad Men's Don Draper
Peggy Olsen
An image from the Lane Bryant campaign
Peter Alliss

The final season of Mad Men arrived on our screens last night. We'll soon find out what's become of one of TV's greatest anti-heroes: the philandering, alcoholic, sexist, creatively brilliant, complex, egotistical, uncaring Don Draper (right, played by Jon Hamm).

Ironically Don is one the reasons feminists have been addicted to the show. The Draper character is a reflection of everything to do with gender. While sexism and sexual politics in the workplace are at the heart of Mad Men, Don is many feminists' dirty little secret. They want something they know is bad for them.

Any feminist worth her salt has warned sisters and friends about men like Don Draper. The ones who go through women like they go through cigarettes. The ones who toy with you, play with you, text you, then don't text you or text you in the middle of the night. The emotionally unavailable ones.

We know that his behaviour is inexcusable. Smart women aren't meant to like bad boys. But sometimes even feminists aren't immune to the alpha male. There. I've said it. That's the complex psychology of many women.

It's sort of the Bill Clinton thing, though personally I never got the attraction with him. But some of the most intelligent, politically correct, empowered women have literally swooned in the presence of this philanderer.

Reminder: Bill Clinton cheated on his wife, lied to the world and probably worst of all, abused his position by 'taking advantage' of a young intern.

Maybe there's an attraction to Don because there's sort of a sense of understanding of how he feels. Women too, understand not wanting to be confined to the home. We understand that family, children, responsibilities, routine can be overbearing - we sometimes want to run away too.

More likely the attraction though, is the straight up, handsome smouldering good looks.

There's also, ironically, the simplicity of the rampant sexism of the 60s. At least men and women knew the rules they had to play by. They were black and white - or rather blue and pink.

The rules are different, now. Well, they're meant to be. It's meant to be a level playing field. But we're all trying to negotiate the tricky world of office and sexual politics today. As a woman in work, you're not meant to channel Joan Holloway and use the space between the desks as a catwalk. You should walk through the corridors of power, not sashay.

Peggy Olsen is of course, all feminists' ultimate icon, a woman who doesn't use her looks to help her career, relying on hard work and talent instead.

Mad Men is mostly written by female writers, which is why the show is so successful.

They understand women, their struggles in the workplace and how sometimes we don't even understand ourselves what we find attractive and what we want.

We're talking about women's bodies again, but at least they're normal ones

Another week, another hashtag for women to support and - of course - it's to do with what they look like. 

American plus-sized designer Lane Bryant launched its #ImNoAngel ads this week as a call to thumb your nose (or your plus size curves) to super skinny models.

Sure, it's another trend that's solely focused on women's bodies and maybe responding like this gives oxygen to body-shaming and body obsession. But it's still welcome in a world where we're bombarded by images of under-nourished and skeletal models and celebs.

It's estimated that a person views 400-600 images every day. Young girls wade through waves of skinny, glossy, brightened, lightened, smooth, sexy women.

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Magazines, selfies, online imagery, music videos - almost everyone's who's 'hot' and 'now' has been airbrushed. A couple of clicks and what was once a picture, becomes a portrait - an edited, counterfeit image of who you actually are.

The #ImNoAngel campaign is a take on the famous Victoria's Secret angels. But what's refreshing is that it's about women who are comfortable in their own skin. They don't and shouldn't have to hide away - that they too can pose in lingerie and feel and look as sexy as slimmer women.

The women are possibly not the average size. What is that now? 12? 14? But at least they're more realistic than the Victoria's Secret angels. At least looking at them won't make younger girls feel inadequate.

Victoria's Secret hasn't responded. But I noticed this week that the Twitter handles of their models have the word 'angel' in them, such as @angelcandice. Ugh.

Yes it's clever marketing. Yes we're still talking about women's bodies. But at least we're talking about ones that look more like the women I know.

 

Golf words leave women tee'd off

I've always loved Peter Alliss . The golf commentator speaks about golf like it's his home.

So I was really disappointed to hear this week that he said that the fight for women's rights in golf has "caused mayhem" and "buggered up the game for a lot of people".

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It seems to me that the biggest problem that golf has is that less people are playing it and most of those that do seem to be older.

Golf clubs need to wake up to the way we live now and offer more flexible and cheaper packages to encourage younger players and families to play the game. Surely the only way for clubs to survive is through equality and not by listening to the Jeremy Clarksons of the back nine?

 

C'mon ladies, we can see your straps

The one good thing to come from the end of the good weather is the end of the good weather fashion disasters. You've surely seen them. The chief offender is the croc - the summer equivalent of winter's Ugg. Big, bulbous and rubbery, if you're under nine you just about get away it.

 

Meanwhile, invisible bra straps and toeless tights are neither invisible nor toeless. We can see them, ladies, digging into your flesh. How difficult is the concept of actually wearing underwear under your clothing? Elsewhere it's statement t-shirts, low-slung jeans slung too low and the 'overhang'.

The latter's when your toes curl or hang over the top of your sandal or squeeze out of that peeptoe. Like you have overweight feet. In the A to Z of fashion transgressions, the overhang runs away with the top prize.

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