The Performativity of Labour and Femininity on Mad Men

  • Maryn C. Wilkinson


Maryn Wilkinson contends that Mad Men affords its female characters the potential for great transformation because it conflates the performance of femininity with the performance of affective labour—all the while highlighting the ‘performative’ as the central tenet of women’s work. Using Marxist theory, she explores ways the concept of affective labour informs the representation of women in Mad Men. Through close analysis of the series’ aesthetics, characterization, and narration, she illustrates how the representation of female labour, in contrast to the male labour, is entirely ‘affective’—not only for its leading women, but also for auxiliary characters such as Rachel Menken, Megan Draper, Dawn Chambers, Trudy Campbell, and Sylvia Rosen as well. She argues that this affective labour is consistently marked as ‘performative’ in nature. The series thus conflates the performance of femininity with the performance of female affective labour.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maryn C. Wilkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Media and CultureUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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