What If That Nasty New York Times Profile Of January Jones Had Been Written About A Man?

The Paley Center For Media Presents: "Mad Men" Season 5

I’m not a huge fan of January Jones. I still can’t decide if she’s a good actress or if she is just playing herself on Mad Men, and I don’t think we’d be friends if we knew each other. But that doesn’t mean I am not going to call the fuck out of someone when I see them treating her in a sexist manner.

In today’s issue of The New York Times, there’s a profile of Jones that I can only describe as “gendered.” Basically, it’s about what a bitch she is for not working overtime to change the minds of all the people who don’t like her, for refusing to smile, and for daring to keep her personal life, well, personal. Conventionally beautiful women, it seems, have to be outgoing and goofy like Jennifer Lawrence (but not tryhardy like Anne Hathaway!) for the media to treat them like human beings. They are not allowed to be shy and introverted, or any other way but the Jennifer Lawrence way, really. And I think that sucks.

To illustrate this, I am going to do a little thought experiment where I pretend this profile was written about a man instead of a woman. Are you ready? Okay.


Jon Hamm, His Own Myth Of Masculinity

It isn’t easy to coax a smile out of Jon Hamm. Perched on a velveteen banquette at the NoMad hotel in the Flatiron district recently, Mr. Hamm didn’t engage in the dithery banter that in Hollywood passes for charm.

What he offered instead was a credible impersonation of Don Draper, the sweet and sullen character he plays in “Mad Men,” the role that has turned him into an emblem of sexiness as salty as his name.

He was dressed down in a T-shirt, hoodie and fashionably shredded MiH jeans. But easygoing as he appeared, you could be forgiven for confusing Mr. Hamm with his starchy alter ego, the immaculate Rockwell man married early in the series to the ice queen Betty Draper, then to Megan Calvet, the rising actress who rescues him from a life of lies.

[Does it seem ridiculous yet? I am just getting started!]

Certainly, viewers seem perplexed. They conflate the actor with his role, argues Natasha Vargas-Cooper, a pop-culture historian and the author of “Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America” — maybe because of the intimacy of TV. “He is in our living rooms,” Ms. Vargas-Cooper said in a telephone interview, “and that just brings up a lot of unsettling feelings.”

Indeed, viewers tend to ascribe to Mr. Hamm the chilly detachment, untreated alcoholism and existential angst that haunt and define Don Draper. And Mr. Hamm seems in no hurry to set them straight.

At 35, he is not much inclined to draw back curtains on a private life that seems by turns hermetic and crazily exposed. In recent months he made waves, not for his roles (he plays Sergio, a scantily clad saxophone player on “Saturday Night Live”) but for a string of romances that have scandalized his critics, providing steady fodder for tabloids and blogs.

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    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      This was brilliant.

    • rebecca

      Than you for this. I’m so tired of the double standard!

    • http://thegloss.com/ Ashley Cardiff

      “The celebrity press has branded him as a coldblooded temptor, a homewrecker. Brian Moylan called him “a human ice luge” on Gawker.

      In person Mr. Hamm did little to counter these impressions.”

      Still can’t believe they ran this piece.

    • Elizabeth

      has it not occurred to anyone that maybe January Jones doesn’t counter her public perceptions because she likes it that way? being an icy, elusive temptress is a brand for her at this point, and it sells her movies and tv shows. which really, is what the media is all about. Had they written this article about somebody else I might agree with you, but in this case I don’t think Ms Jones needs your protection. She seems like a very smart woman who could easily tell the press that she is just shy and make them look like the bad guys, but she doesn’t. She plays the game and it works. So while journalism can very often be sexist, let’s not put all the blame on them

      • JLH1986

        Jones may not need “protection” but the point was media admires traits in men and in women they are frowned upon. Women are supposed to be sweet and cuddly and nurturing and gossipy. Men are not.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699618735 Cara Crowes

        Exactly and sweet and cuddly doesn’t work in the business world. It’s the 21st century though, every woman will be herself, not an archetype for “men’s convenience.”

      • Elizabeth

        I get that, but i don’t think January Jones is the right example of addressing that issue. Someone like Ann Hathaway? Yes because she is seen as a bitch when she tries hard and it seems like she can’t ever win with the press. January doesn’t strike me as such, I think her media portrait is exactly what she wanted.

    • Jason

      I dunno… Still seems like a typical piece of celebrity journalism?

    • Hila

      I think you hit the nail on the head here:
      “Traits that are assumed to be inherently bad in a woman (lack of effusiveness when speaking, a desire for privacy) are neutral or even admirable in a man. And then there’s the gross infantilization and speculation on one’s sex life that men are simply not subject to.”
      Welcome to our culture.

    • ashley

      I read the book Lean In and this was discussed. How traits in a many are acceptable and admired but if a woman exhibits those same traits not only men, but women will turn on her. It’s important to have a dialogue about this to make people aware of this so we can start becoming more fair in how we treat one another. I want my daughters to grow up in a world that is more fair than today. Just because we are better off than most of the world does not mean we should become complacent. We must keep improving.