the sexual assault of don draper, anxiety presents possibilites

montreal skyline wallpaper

montreal skyline wallpaper

 

I read a fair number of Mad Men synopsizes ( Slate has a good serial review, including this one of Bob and being in the closet in the 60s). While I pick up some small details I may have missed, few cause me to reevaluate a episode, Don Draper Was Raped

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.

I was not in the camp of people who thought of that events as simply Don losing his virginity or “The Wall Street Journal, Aimee “guides [Dick] through his first sexual experience.” A recap at The Daily Mail, despite recounting Dick’s protestations, underplays the interaction as a mere “tryst.” I thought of it as sexual assault or molesting a minor. It wasn’t some scene from a cliche ridden teen comedy where the boy and girl are at least around the same age. As Abigail Rine notes Don was not cooperative and was ill. She notes that we generally associate rape as a male act because we associate it with penetration. We also tend to think that since a male has to be erect, to be capable of sex, than he was consciously aroused. Yet men know that that erections are not always a conscious act. Men, especially young men have them spontaneously. If they didn’t we would not have those scene from comedies like American Pie or the old Porky’s movie. That is not to say they do not have control over their decision making – as some conservatives have claimed. In order to see Don’s assault as rape society will need to expand how it sees coerced sex. We don’t have a problem with seeing the rape of a male by another male as clearly being rape, which Abigail explains, because there is penetration. Since creator/producer Matthew Weiner has gone all Freud on the cast – in terms of cultural interpretations – it helps to understand at least partly why Don is the way he is ( the begging and desperation scenes in contrast to his attempts to be controlling over the course of the series) if one understands that he was sexually abused, or raped.

Someone with some good things to say about anxiety, Kierkegaard on Anxiety & Creativity

“Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self… — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.”

In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused. . . . [W]hoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost. On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past. Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.

The existential pull of options. To seek the calm of relief from anxiety or to settle in to it’s inevitability to so as to push for the next layer of oneself.

 

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