Everybody's Got Something to Sell: Mad Men S05E11 Afterthoughts

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We're all ad men to our own lives.

Mrs. Holloway: I raised her to be admired.

Don Draper: Joan-ie, you don't have to put on the red light.

Joan: Oh Don, you're a good one aren't you.


Many folks were understandably shocked when one of their favorite Mad Men characters, Joan Harris, agreed to spend a night with Herb Rennet in order for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to land the Jaguar account.

They asked themselves, how could she?

My thought is, why wouldn't she?

We have already seen Joan suffer through years of ogling by office co-workers and clients. She has been tossed around like a toy by Roger Sterling and raped by her own husband. All that abuse, and for what? Nothing. She was still a lowly notch on the company totem pole. She was never going to rise above her position to gain more power and income by following the same path she had been on for the last thirteen years.

She needed to pull out the big guns. And we know—and so does she—exactly what those guns are.

Joan has something to sell, as we all do. Joan's greatest asset is her sexuality and she knows it. Unlike Pete Campbell, she wasn't raised with a silver spoon in her mouth—with a great education and waspy upbringing. Nor was she a child of nepotism like Roger Sterling who was handed a company by his father. And while she is talented, intelligent, and driven, her abilities fall short when stacked up next to the hyper-ambitious creatives Don and Peggy. And as for the rest of the rest of the SCDP guys, well they have their y chromosomes to be thankful for. This alone puts them ahead of the game at birth.

How can Joan make partnership at SCDP? She can use the assets she was born with and the talents she was nurtured to embrace. She's got a great bod and a sensuality to be admired. These are valuable commodities—worth a lot on the market.

What is one lousy night with a mildly disgusting client in the scheme of things? Is that anymore degrading than being raped by one's husband? She's already experienced worse and survived it without any tangible rewards. At least she has something to gain with this transaction. She'll acquire money and power and a future for herself and her child. She will finally be able to take her life in the direction she chooses—free of her despicable husband and the whims of Roger Sterling.

Has Joan lost integrity through her choice to sleep with Herb? Not in my book. We all have something to sell. Is selling one's bod any different than selling one's education, upbringing, connections, or gender? No.
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