Don Draper Was Raped.

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I’m over at The Atlantic today, writing about the invisibility of female-on-male rape.

In an episode of Mad Men last month, a prostitute named Aimee has sex with a teenaged Don Draper (née Dick Whitman) after nursing him through a nasty chest cold. Actually, let me rephrase: Aimee doesn’t just have sex with young Dick Whitman–she rapes him.

Throughout most of the episode, Aimee serves as a surrogate mother for Dick; she lets him recuperate in her bed and offers him rest, comforting words, spoonfuls of warm broth. However, in their penultimate scene together, Aimee’s maternal kindness turns oddly predatory. She approaches her bed where Dick is lying weakly, fever newly broken, and asks, “Don’t you want to know what all the fuss is about? “No,” Dick replies forcefully, averting his eyes and hugging the blankets tightly against his chest as she reaches under the covers to touch him. “Stop it,” he says, clearly uncomfortable, even afraid. But Aimee doesn’t stop.

To me, this interaction was an unambiguous depiction of rape–and not simply statutory rape. Dick is in a physically weakened state and repeatedly makes it clear that he does not want Aimee to touch him sexually, much less “take his cherry.” As a child of the ’80s, I was raised on a healthy diet of “No Means No.” Rape isn’t just something that happens at gunpoint with a strange man in a dark alley; rape, essentially speaking, is being subjected to sex without consent. And Dick clearly did not consent.

Click here to read the rest of the article at The Atlantic….

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11 comments

  1. Berdina Juarez

    I was sexually abused/raped thru out my childhood by not one woman but two. Recently I pointed this out in the comments section of an article titled “A Rape A Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year”. My statement was as follows;

    “I was raped by two women as a child and always felt it was my fault because in order to quality as a true rape victim my perpetrator had to be male. No one ever taught me women also rape. And still to this day we don’t.”

    The only response I received was the following:

    “It takes a lot more than a male attacker to qualify as a True Rape Victim in the eyes of the legal system and court of public opinion. But you really haven’t added anything to this conversation here, have you. When men represent the overwhelming majority of those who commit acts of sexual and physical violence, we need to remove the belief that women are responsible for their victimization because the status quo refuses to blame itself, a status quo maintained by patriarchal influences. I’m sorry about your past, but you are not helping.”

    I am make a comment to the same affect on Bitch Media’s Facebook page and was told basically the same thing. The one that really seemed sad was the idea that I was “derailing the argument” What? But apparently unless rape is seen thru the eyes of female victim and male predator feminist media outlets don’t seem too keen on making much out of it. I wrote about this on my own blog and still get push back.

    http://ladyberd.com/2013/04/02/lord-of-the-rings-eminem-steubenville/

    • Abigail

      Wow. That response to your comment is infuriating. I honestly don’t understand that attitude. I consider myself a committed feminist, but when the feminist lens becomes so dogmatic that the stories of actual rape survivors are dismissed and their voices silenced because it doesn’t fit the gendered narrative, that is really disturbing to me. And that’s a big reason why I felt compelled to write the article. That attitude needs to be called out. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

      • Berdina Juarez

        Thank you for your healing words. It’s something that needs to be address by us feminist. I am a proud card carrying feminist and will be till my dying breath but this idea of rape being solely a female victim and male perpetrator needs to take into consideration all victims regardless of gender. The feminist of the second and third wave instilled the importance of rape being recognized within a marriage and prostitution. Strong women spoke out and said enough is enough. It’s time we do it again. No one has the right to touch you without your permission. No one has the right to tell you “you were asking for it”. No one has the right to tell you sit back and enjoy it which is pretty much what most people are saying about Don Draper. We would never except someone saying this to a woman so why should we say it to a man? I plan to write more about this but sometimes find it hard. I will though for the sake of my son.

        • Abigail

          Yeah, it’s interesting how becoming a mother, especially to a boy, shifts the dynamics somewhat. It’s moved me to look more at how boys are harmed by our cultural norms and assumptions about gender. We need more voices speaking out on this issue — especially the voices of survivors who feel silenced.

  2. kate schell

    THANK YOU for writing this piece. I was so dismayed reading so many episode recaps, where people dismissed the scene as him just losing his virginity, tra-la-la. I was very disappointed in the reactions. Not just because it’s missing the whole point of Don’s character arc this season, but because it is saying men are incapable of “not wanting” sex in any scenario, and especially not men like Don Draper who grew up to be womanizers (because promiscuity is totally not ever a response to trauma, you know). This is such a needed perspective.

    • Abigail

      Yeah, I was honestly flabbergasted. First, just because, like you say, the insight into his character development seemed so important and obvious — yet most recaps seemed to completely miss that, because they couldn’t see the rape. So strange. I think it was interesting and even a little courageous for the Mad Men writers to make this icon of masculinity a rape victim, but that move was lost on many viewers, apparently.

  3. John T.

    Good article. Though I would like to point out something. It is true that penetrating someone could potentially be more physically damaging, but like most wounds suffered from physical abuse they usually fade with time. Unlike the emotional wounds that can last a lifetime. Penetrated or being made to penetrate carry the same weight in regards to emotional wounds. The truth is the emotional scars caused by physical domination(which includes beatings) are difficult to eliminate. This is a good thing to remember when dealing with men(males) as they are by far more likely to suffer physical violence and domination in their lifetimes as well the “potentially” less likely possibility of rape.
    Again I would like to compliment you on your well written article. 🙂

    • Abigail

      John, thanks for reading and responding. I think you’re right. I raised that point in sort of a pre-emptive move, because I saw it as a potential response to my argument, and because I wanted to emphasize that (potential) physical trauma shouldn’t be the measure of whether something is considered rape or not, considering how damaging the emotional/psychological trauma can be. And, as you say, that sort of pain is much more enduring and harder to heal.

  4. John T.

    Unfortunately one of the aspects of violence is the emotional damage it causes. Something that I have encountered online when discussing certain issues is who has it worse and why. When people try to point out that their pain(abuse or violence suffered) is relevant to the discussion they are sometimes shouted down by people saying “Oppression Olympics”. Here’s my beef, who gets to decide which type of violence is more damaging. Presently in gender discussions, rape is the one that gets the most airplay(most damaging). I ask you, why is that? Why is it that sexual violence is more damaging than, lets say, a lead pipe to the head? Who gets to determine who deserves more sympathy or compassion for the violence someone endures. There is no doubt that there are degrees to any type of violence but I think it may be important to take a look at why rape of women seems to be the one that most people think is the most horrendous. Possibly the answer of that question might lie in sexism.