I have never been a “secretary.” I have been an administrative assistant and an office manager, but never a secretary. When I held those positions in the past and was mistakenly called a secretary, I pretty much freaked out, screamed some rhetoric that I had read somewhere about the term being offensive and out-dated, then went back to my game of solitaire on the computer. I was not a secretary. I would never be a secretary.
In my mind the word “secretary” conjures up thoughts of skirts in 1970’s hues of orange and brown made of gabardine with hems that are just below the knee. It also makes me think of offices that are a sea of typewriters, and firms that are entirely run by men where the only women in sight are secretaries who are at the beck and call of those men in charge. Frankly even before seeing Mad Men that was exactly what I saw when I heard that word, but in my mind it was far less stylish.
However thanks to Mad Men the term “secretary” is now on the rise. Basically what we have is a television show (and a great one at that) kicking feminists’ efforts back several decades. Although the word started to lose popularity after World War II, it was the years that followed (most notably the 60’s and 70’s), when the importance of gender equality became a concern for everyone, that the word started to be pushed aside. According to Ray Weikal, a communication specialist at the International Association of Administrative Professionals:
“With the cultural change of the 1950s through the 1970s, women increasingly wanted to have titles that better reflected their status as fully professional members of their office team. It was a matter of recognizing they weren’t merely secretaries, but that they were equal members of the team that made corporate America work.”
The “Mad Men effect,” as IAAP calls it, could be contributing to the fact that the usage of the word “secretary” has doubled in the last two years, and for the first time in several years the title “secretary” is included in the top three administrative job titles. Could Don Draper and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce really be the reason that decades of hard work to be viewed as equals be unraveling because one particular show makes that world look glamorous? What’s next? Having our asses smacked and our breasts complimented every time we do “good?” Will this also mean that pointy bras will be making a comeback? Because that’s definitely something I can’t get behind. I’d feel like Madonna circa 1990-something if that is going to be the case, and I don’t want to feel that way! I’d be knocking people out left and right with my cone boobs and it will not be a pretty sight.
Allowing “secretary” to come back into fashion is not only giving an OK to uncomfortable undergarments, but also opening the doors back up to orange gabardine suits and more importantly fucking with something that should not be fucked: gender equality. No one can possibly think any of this is a good idea, now matter how great Mad Men is — or am I wrong?