LFB – Mad Men & Pleasing Women

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I’m a little slow on following certain trends and so it happens that I just started watching Mad Men. Almost immediately, I noticed a parellel between 1950’s 1960’s America and Brazil in 2012. The way women are looked at and the power the women give the men (or rather, that the men are expected to possess) in the series is very much like what I see here in Rio (and all the other places I’ve been/lived in Brazil). Brass tacks, if you aren’t a manly man here, you’re simply not a man. Disagree with me on that last point if you will, but I can’t tell you how many times that has been directly or indirectly shown to me, in my own dealings or through observation.

As an extension of the Mad Men parellel, over the years, I’ve noticed a sizable amount of young adult women (who I’d guess were from the lower-middle and lower classes) are secretaries, salon workers and the like. All traditionally female roles. I’m not saying that was all they aspired to because, even as a man, I’ve worked plenty of jobs that were just jobs, work for work’s sake. I’d be interested in knowing how the modern Brazilian woman sees herself within the current set-up, in addition to how she views women with traditional roles.


8 thoughts on “LFB – Mad Men & Pleasing Women

  1. I agree and disagree with your post, because this topic is a lot more complicated than that. It’s also confusing. Women look for men who are manly and sensitive.
    Yes, there are women who revolves around men, especially in the north and northeast But also, there are women who are more independent.
    Plus, there are men here who are not manly and still are seen as men.

  2. Interesting! It’s hard to give anything other than an anecdotal contribution to this, but I’ve definitely noticed a different balance of opinions here in Brazil compared to the UK (and presumably the US). I think you get women at both ends of the spectrum in the UK and Brazil, but the distribution in the UK tends to be weighted more towards ‘modern/independent/feminist’ than in Brazil. But of course there are plenty of modern, independent Brazilian women too – I happen to know one or two! :)

    Example: I know at least 2 or 3 British women who would be offended if I offered to take their suitcase for them (the response would be “Oh, because I’m a woman you think I’m too weak to carry my own suitcase?”). I have never seen/heard that kind of attitude from women here – it’s just seen as being friendly/polite.

  3. I know a girl from the NE who told me that back home even buying a “bala” (piece of candy) herself was a no-no…that the man should (and did, in this instance) take care of it for her. And the guy in the story was just a longtime friend. She told me it was normal behavior.

  4. The NE is more conservative, but I wouldn’t assume that every woman is like that there either. Sometimes people say that something is normal behavior, but when you get to know it, you realize that they are generalizing something that happens in their own circle of friends and friend. I’ve seen a lot of that.

  5. My observations are of a more complex situation than can be expressed in a short article, but I’ll try. The fact is that people of the “lower classes” are limited in their options to succeed by lack of access. In Brasil, it’s who you know that matters. If you then break this fact down to it’s logical conclusion, there is a “hierarchy” of opportunity that exists in all countries. I’ve tried to be polite in my statement, please do not extract that I am being obtuse in any way.

    As to how women view themselves, my Brasilian wife suggests asking this of one of your Brasilera friends to get the clearest picture.Please post your findings.

  6. I’ve never watched this “Mad Men” show and probably never will, because I believe that one of the reasons they make a show about the 1950’s is that apartheid reigned in Hollywood then, so no one will expect this Mad Men show to have any Black or Latino actors.

    Of course, I could be wrong since I’ve never seen the show, but statistically it’s pretty likely that Mad Men is just another apartheid enterprise.

    Do any women participate in the writing and production of Mad Men or is it exclusively about white men reflecting on themselves and on their relationships with white women?

    Of COURSE there is a hierarchy of opportunity in the United States and in Brazil. I wouldn’t know enough about the show to compare it to relationships in Brazil.

  7. I’m a brazilian guy. I watch Mad Men and I love it.
    I can understand your point when it comes to how dependent women are in Brazil nowadays. Women from big cities are different from those who live in the country. The situation changes also when we talk about social-economic aspects. What i think is that, when a woman wants be independent and live her life the way she wants, she can do it here in Brazil. But no all of them wants that. I’ve known some girls who just wanted get married and have children, without making plans about college or professional carreer. Another subject i would like to talk about is that in the 60’s, when Mad Men takes place, inter-racial marriage was fairly common here. But in the US things was much different.

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