If there’s one thing Mad Men fans know about the show, it is that nothing happens by accident. So I’m sure creator Matt Weiner intended Joan Holloway‘s rape at the hands of her douche-y doctor fiancé to make a point: in the 1960s, the concept of “date rape” did not exist and people scarcely spoke openly about rape.
“What’s astounding is when people say things like, ‘Well, you know that episode where Joan sort of got raped?’ Or they say rape and use quotation marks with their fingers. ‘I’m like, ‘What is that you are doing? Joan got raped!’ It illustrates how similar people are today, because we’re still questioning whether it’s a rape. It’s almost like, ‘Why didn’t you just say bad date?’ ”
“Sort of got raped”? How does one “sort of” get raped? Is that like being a little pregnant?
When Lauren Gitlin recapped that particular Mad Men episode for us last season, she described how Joan’s fiancé forced himself on her on the floor of Don Draper’s office, despite her pleas to stop and attempts to restrain him, and then she quits resisting while he rapes her. Afterwards, the couple dashes off to make their dinner reservation on time.
I, like Hendricks, am flabbergasted that some viewers wouldn’t contextualize Joan’s rape through our modern eyes. Is it because Joan’s the office bombshell? The one who advises all the other secretaries to go on birth control? Because Joan slept with Roger Sterling? Because the man who raped her is her fiancé? Still, none of that means that when Joan said “no, stop” it meant anything other than “no, stop.”