During Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court hearings, certain quarters of Twitter lit up not just with the stories of sexual assault survivors, but with women embracing the full measure of their anger over the treatment of Christine Blasey Ford in particular and opposition to President Trump's agenda in general.
One gif in particular seemed to capture the mood: It's a looped clip from the seventh season of Mad Men, where Joan says to Peggy, "I want to burn this place down."
The two characters are standing in an elevator after a business meeting about their client Topaz pantyhose. The meeting had gone terribly; Peggy and Joan's fellow attendees-all men-had been dismissive and condescending and made repeated graphic sexual comments.
Peggy asks, "Should we get lunch?" which prompts the now-iconic response from Joan. Simply put, Joan was fed up with the rampant sexism of the early 1970s. And in 2018, women are still fed up.
Yass! @ELIENYC- Hadley Sheley (@HadleySheley) October 6, 2018
“It’s a time to ask Democrats what are they willing to do now. We tried it the Chris Coons way. I say we try it the Chicago way. I say we burn it down when it comes to 2020. I refuse to look at sexual assault survivors and say you just have to take it!”
When I asked Christina Hendricks, the actress who played Joan on Mad Men, about the gif's sudden rise in popularity in the wake of not only the Kavanaugh appointment, but also the larger #MeToo and Time's Up movements, she was unaware of its newfound symbolism, but not surprised.
"It makes sense to me," she continued, "because Joan and Peggy were in this business meeting being absolutely disrespected and belittled and hit on and and treated poorly and being objectified, and they left the meeting and that’s what they said. It seems to fit right along, doesn’t it?"
Given Mad Men's focus on power structures and unapologetic depiction of sexual harassment, it seems particularly fitting that this particular gif would take off in our current cultural climate.
"[Workplace sexual harassment] was a topic that we talked about for years and years on Mad Men. It started very early because of the treatment and inequality [of women] on the show, which which was, of course, something that we wanted to highlight. And I was always very proud of that we started that conversation. Things just really had to come to a head after what seems like a hell of a long time coming," Hendricks said.
"And I’m just glad that it has, and that it’s this conversation. It feels very raw, and it feels very sensitive, and very scary, and very necessary."
The Romanoffs is streaming now on Amazon Prime. Hendricks's episode, titled "House of Special Purpose" drops this Friday.
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