Mad fashion: The fashion, femininity and sexuality of the female characters in Mad Men, a content analysis.
LE3 .A278 2012
Bachelor of Arts
The television show Mad Men follows the lives of the employees of New York City advertising agency Sterling-Cooper, in the early 1960s. In my thesis using Mad Men as a case study, I examine the role fashion and sexuality play in women’s working lives and I look specifically at fashion and sexual relations. This research offers a unique contribution to the literature, as there is minimal written that focuses on fashion and feminism. This research provides a different perspective, as well as a creative approach to feminism and its ties with fashion. Using a content analysis of all four seasons aired, I examine the key female characters (Peggy, Joan, Rachel, and Faye) in relation to fashion, power and subordination. The theoretical frameworks in which this thesis is situated are Hakim’s (2010) concept of erotic capital, Giddens’ (1979) Agency Theory, Apthecker’s (1989) idea of dailiness, and theoretical debates between Second and Third Wave Feminist thought. I conclude that overall, a woman can be feminine, express her sexuality, and at the same time maintain power and control. While these characters are fictional, their daily struggles, as well as their reactions and strategies, are representative of real women. Fashion, sexuality and power are not, to this day, mutually exclusive categories.
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