Tube Tied: Pete Campbell Is A Rapist

Michelle Dean
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Pete Campbell is a rapist.  On Sunday night's episode, he met a young au pair living in his building and helped her out of a difficult situation with her employers.  He propositioned her; she refused.  Later that evening, undeterred, he knocked on her door, forced her to let him in to avoid a scene, followed her into her bedroom, closed the door, and kissed her, leading her towards the bed.  Apparently, for some people, this wasn't clearly a rape.  I'm here to tell them: it was.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  I've heard some people say that Mad Men is a show about nuance, shades of grey, and therefore Pete Campbell Cannot Be A Rapist.  (As if there was no such thing as a rapist in serious, well-developed drama.)  I think these people are doing a very superficial read of Mad Men.  I don't think the writer or director of this episode was the least bit confused.  The au pair is slightly afraid of Pete throughout.  She doesn't want him in the apartment.  She recoils when he kisses her.  That she submits, ultimately, is irrelevant to the question of whether Pete rapes her.  She didn't want to sleep with him; she made it clear; he didn't care.  He wanted to have sex, and she was there, and she owed him, in his mind.  So he raped her.  End of story.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  What Mad Men is being subtle about, when it shows us an episode in which a character rapes someone for no reason better than boredom, is the fact rape doesn't just happen in alleys.  It doesn't just come from total strangers who leap from bushes.  It doesn't involve kicking and screaming and clawing his eyeballs out, because that would only get you in even more trouble.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  The feminist blogger fugitivus has really eloquently pointed out that we have this strange habit of teaching women to submit - not to fight, not to be mean, not, above all, to be a "bitch" to men ("bitch" being a watchword for "woman who reists sexual aggression") lest your dispute with him get physical, and then:

It's a rude fucking awakening when a woman gets raped, and follows the rules she has been taught her whole life — doesn't refuse to talk, doesn't refuse to flirt, doesn't walk away ignoring him, doesn't hit, doesn't scream, doesn't fight, doesn't raise her voice, doesn't deny she liked kissing — and finds out after that she is now to blame for the rape. She followed the rules. The rules that were supposed to keep the rape from happening. The rules that would keep her from being fair game for verbal and physical abuse. Breaking the rules is supposed to result in punishment, not following them. For every time she lowered her voice, let go of a boundary, didn't move away, let her needs be conveniently misinterpreted, and was given positive reinforcement and a place in society, she is now being told that all that was wrong, this one time, and she should have known that, duh.

For anybody who has ever watched the gendered social interactions of women — watched a woman get browbeaten into accepting attention she doesn't want, watched a woman get interrupted while speaking, watched a woman deny she is upset at being insulted in public, watched a woman get grabbed because of what she was wearing, watched a woman stop arguing — and said and done nothing, you never have the right to ever ask, "Why didn't she fight back?"

Pete Campbell is a rapist because he told the au pair, though perhaps not in so many words, that he didn't care about her arguments.  He ignored all the behaviour she exhibited that said she didn't want him.  He didn't really bother to think about what the au pair wanted or desired, because it was irrelevant to him.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  I keep repeating it like that, keep saying it flat-out like that, not because I demand that you hate his character now.  (In fact, I've always thought Vincent Kartheiser - who I hated on Angel - does an excellent job of making such a weasel character kind of sympathetic, human.)  I keep saying he is a rapist because I think everyone would benefit from understanding that "rapists" are not monsters: they are human beings.  They are human beings who have been taught, time and time again, by this culture, that they are entitled to sexually use other people.  They are not outliers; they are not blips on the radar; they are not deviants.  They are, often, just men who have gotten so caught up in themselves, so blinded by the ego they are told from birth they must develop as a symbol of virile masculinity, that they have utterly forgotten that woman are human beings.  They have forgotten that women are not there for their sexual use.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  People who care about ending rape know that most rapists look, in fact, a lot like Pete: acquaintances, harmless-looking, perhaps a bit of a lech, but in general using means other than physical violence to coerce sex.  Using tricks.  People who care about ending rape know that keeping rapists in the "deviant" bucket does absolutely nothing to keep people - women, children, and sometimes men - from being raped.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  I'm gonna keep saying that because I'm tired of people being afraid, desperately, mortally afraid, of calling a rape a rape, of calling a rapist a rapist.  This terror, this insistence that the term rape only be applied to "serious cases" - meaning, only those cases where society believes someone has been raped - does absolutely nothing to stop rape from happening.  It results in people scrambling for fictions to cover up the holes in these stories - see how her lips turned up at the corner, she could have kneed him, she's only sad about cheating on her boyfriend - just so that they won't have to call it rape.  You see this with Pete, you see it with Polanski, you see it with Kobe Bryant: why didn't she stop him?  Never: why didn't he stop?

Pete Campbell is a rapist.  It's worrisome that this is controversial, and at the same time I'm grateful to Mad Men, because I think the scene said something that needed to be said.  It's getting people to listen to them that's the problem.

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35 Comments Have Been Posted

What about in the second

What about in the second season what Joan is raped by her fiance in Don Draper's office? I was shocked when it happened. I have yet to catch up on this season, but I am glad that this subject of "gray rape" is being brought up within the series. I applaud them and your post on it.

Let's be clear about what rape is...statutory definition.

In most jurisdictions rape remains narrowly defined as forcible sexual intercourse, but separate statutes address other forms of sexual assault, including non-consensual (but unforced) sexual intercourse and unwanted sexual activity other than intercourse.

Some states have changed the laws to include non-consensual sexual intercourse and unless that is the case then Pete Campbell is just a creep who sexually assaults women. Just like anybody who kills another person is not a murderer (manslaughter, for example), anybody who has non-consensual sexual intercourse is not necessarily a rapist.

We did not see Pete Campbell use force or threat of force, therefore, in this case he is guilty of sexual assault but not rape.

Rape law is largely useless.

Blah blah blah law. Legal definitions are written by and for people, and they are subject to change, and by and large, no state's rape laws are dedicated to the end of rape as a systemic problem, just to the (unsuccessful and rare) prosecutions of particular individuals. Cool your jets.

"blah blah blah law" will

"blah blah blah law" will now be my new mantra.

Diluting the term...

My concern is that by expanding the definition of rape, are we diluting the word?

I mean, it could eventually reach a point where I can say that this blog raped by eyes with its vibrant colors. The flashy ads sexually violated my sense of ocular purity.

By doing too far with a definition that was once specific and making it a whole lot more broad, then you take away from those who were kidnapped, physically held down against their will, and violently beaten and raped and left to die. I would feel AWFUL if I told such an individual that I, TOO, was "raped" because my wife coerced me into having sex with her by telling me she was horny, even though I wasn't, but I gave her satisfaction anyway because I would prefer her to be happy, even though I had a migraine at the time and it didn't help any, despite claims to the contrary.

Imagine a woman standing there, bruised, bleeding, needing years of therapy... and I'm telling her that I can sympathize with her because I, too, was "raped"? How dare I?

Again, I'm not saying we should excuse ANY person who psychologically pressures ANYONE into doing ANYTHING against their will by using powerful words such as "please" or "oh, come on" or other tactics from the death penalty. All I am saying is that by using a once powerful word in both extreme situations and lesser situations, then saying "It's not LESSER. It's the SAME! There is NO DIFFERENCE!" then, in my humble opinion, we are doing a MAJOR disservice to those who really feel that they were violated to a much more severe degree. Maybe we need to come up with more words? Maybe rape is the general term that can be used in ANY scenario where sex was involved and there was later regret? Then, we could come up with a word like PRAPE meaning "Physical rape, when physical dominance was involved" or SRAPE meaning "Spousal rape, when you only had sex because it was a part of your wedding vows, but you weren't really in the mood at the time." Maybe SADRAPE could be "Having sex with someone who has Social Anxiety Disorder" because having such an affliction should be on par with being drunk or drugged. Maybe SHRAPE would be "having sex with someone who is shy" because that falls pretty closely with Social Anxiety Disorder.

Then, it makes me wonder if we need words that represent the opposite of rape. What about the person who WANTED the sex... but was too shy to show it. So, at first, they turned away which sent a signal of "no, I want to remain a virgin forever." Then, the other person just said "It's ok" and walked away. That, in itself, is a form of psychological rape. The shy person wants to shout out "No! I really wanted to have sex! Please come back!" but they can't, because they're shy. So, instead, they take a bunch of pills later that night and die. Not before scribbling into their diary, "I was SHRAPED tonight. Goodbye cruel world."

It really disgusts me how people take a concept like rape so lightly these days, where now it simply means "Sex where both parties did not sign waivers before hand, give universally clear signals of full consent prior to intercourse, did not have any regrets later, both perceived each other as equals with one not being more powerful than the other whether universally understood or merely perceived by one individual, and neither individual suffered from any psychiatric disorder such as Social Anxiety Disorder, shyness, flirtatiousness, or any disorder which would cause the inability to set boundaries and communicate these boundaries to others clearly and not allow anyone to violate these boundaries without clearly communicating this fact as many times as necessary or removing oneself from the compromising position." Now that the word is more clearly defined, both parties should sign here and may now commence engaging in the romantic act of sex. Oh, it's not romantic anymore? In that case, stop what you're doing right now... now that it isn't fun anymore, it's rape.

rape, used in this context,

rape, used in this context, is a legal term, is it not? So to dismiss it as 'blah blah blah law' strikes me as a bit silly.

Above poster said there was no force or threat of force, I'd argue that the threat of force was implied rather than explicit. Of course it does depend on jurisdictional differences. I'm not terribly familiar with the US law on the matter but where I'm from you could probably make a pretty convincing argument that what happened was rape.

While Mad Men may be

While Mad Men may be filmed/set in the US, rape, and "grey-rape" as shown in this episode are a global position. And legal definitions of rape and sexual assault vary across the world. However this doesn't mean that when a person does not consent to sexual contact that it isn't rape. It is.

Pete Campbell: Rapist

It drives me crazy that we have to have this conversation, and I'm including Mr. Statutory Hair-Splitter above. Yeah, at best you could call this "coerced" sexual intercourse, but HOW exactly is that different? Maybe there are differences in how that would play in court, but that, to me, is a problem with the court system.

Anywho, what's really kind of bothering me about this episode is that I can't decide if the show is asking us to sort of forgive Pete 20 minutes after we saw him basically destroy a human being. He seemed genuinely aware, I suppose, that what happened went well beyond the affairs he's had before, but I can't get to a place where everything's just fine now that Pete has had a major revelation about his own capacity for the expense of a young woman. I'm interested in how this will play out in future episodes and whether or not this, undoubtedly the largest transgression in Pete's sordid history, will haunt him in some way.

I realize that in the world of 1963, he would likely get away with this, but I don't want the show to let him get away with it by asking us once again to believe in Pete Campbell: Flawed But Basically Loveable Anti-Villain. I think they did a pretty good job with Greg, who, we discover, raped Joan out of his own sense of insecurity and impotence and who is pretty much an ass. Period. The show has humanized him, but it's never entirely asked us to sympathize with him in the same way we sympathize with Pete. I guess what I'm saying is that this better mark a watershed moment in Pete's life or what the hell did they destroy a perfectly nice supporting character for?

Enough rambling!

"Flawed But Basically Lovable Anti-Villain"

Those who don't call it rape

Those who don't call it rape don't understand the show.

The show...

I have never seen the show, so I can't comment about this specific instance being discussed. I have heard about the show, and I'd rather not watch it. What's worrisome to me is some of the logic being used to explain WHY what he did (in the show) is rape.

Now, maybe I needed to see the show to get this context, but I heard that she kissed him back. Now, I want to try to be open-minded about this and imagine as many possible scenarios where different realities could coexist simultaneously.

Let's say, for instance, someone comes up to me with a gun and says, "Give me all of your money or I'll shoot!" So, I have over my money and run off. Did he REALLY steal my money? I mean, *I* handed it TO him, didn't I? Well, sure... but I was coerced. He had a gun. It was my money or my life. That wasn't fair.

Now, let's say instead, someone comes up to me with no gun and says, "Give me all of your money!" So, I have over my money and run off. Did he REALLY steal my money? I mean, *I* handed it TO him, didn't I? Well, sure... but I was coerced. He didn't have a gun, though. He also didn't really say he'd beat me up if I didn't give him my money. I was only afraid that he MIGHT beat me up. So, perhaps this was still the same thing, right?

Now, let's say instead, someone walks up to me with no gun and says, "Can you spare some change?" So, I have over my money and run off. Did he REALLY steal my money? I mean, *I* handed it TO him, didn't I? Well, sure... but I was coerced. He was wearing old looking clothes and I was in my dress clothes. I would be frowned upon by society if I didn't give him some of my money. He didn't have a gun, though. He also didn't really say he'd beat me up if I didn't give him my money. I wasn't that he'd beat me up, but he was certainly using a guilt-trip on me, wasn't he? So, perhaps this was still the same thing, right?

So now, imagine a husband and wife. The husband says to his wife every night, "Look... I have needs... just like I get hungry for food and I eat... and I get thirsty for water and I drink... I get the urge for sex and want sex... I know you're never in the mood... and we don't need to have sex every night... I'm just looking for sex once in a while... I would never cheat on you... part of the concept of marriage is that we reserve our sexuality to each other exclusively... but since you are never in the mood, it puts me into a precarious situation... I can't just shut off my needs and desires... you have needs and desires too... you want flowers from time to time... and sweet words... and I do these things... I give you personalized cards... and I send you flowers... so all I'm saying is that we both have needs and, as exclusive partners to each other, we only have each other to meet these needs."

What a jerk, right? He's using a guilt-trip, trying to rape his wife. Just like that darn beggar on the street with his dirty clothes.

What concerns me is that many people, fearing that they might allow someone to get away with rape, start classifying ALL of these scenarios as being EXACTLY THE SAME. So, what happens when the law catches up? Do we start throwing the homeless in prison for daring to look pitiful? Do we throw wives in prison for thinking Sean Connery looks good for his age?

Remember that the women who were killed during the Salem Witch Trials were mostly women whose husbands were cheating on them... or they were the mistresses. If the husband wanted to continue cheating, he said his wife was a witch. If he didn't want to continue cheating, he said his mistress was the witch. So history is filled with people using terms loosely ("She's practicing witchcraft" instead of just "I don't like her" or "I need to silence her") to gain power advantages over other people. Unfortunately, in some cases, the term "rape" is being used in the same way.

Pete Campbell is a rapist.

Pete Campbell is a rapist. And I applaud you for saying it. Keep saying it.

Definitions and whatnot

Yeah. When we have a PERFECT justice system we can consider using their definitions to define the actions that make up our lives. Until then, I think it's safe to say that forcing someone to have sex is RAPING THEM. Women don't fight back for a number of reasons, often times because they are AFRAID or CAN'T BELIEVE SOMEONE THEY TRUST IS DOING THIS TO THEM. That doesn't alter what's being done To them.

p.s. Thank you for bringing up Kobe!

And then there is the reaction by the victim's employer...

Obviously the writers and producers of Mad Men intended to have Pete Campbell rape the au pair. This confused reaction from some audience members reinforces what Christina Hendricks observed about reactions to her own rape scene in Season 2: that we have not come so far from many elements of the 1960s sexism portrayed in the show. The rape scene itself being absent – as you say, how it played out exactly is irrelevant -- the most disgusting scene for me was the conversation with the neighbour who employs the au pair afterwards, who asks Pete to “take it outside the building” because repeatedly sexually assaulting his kids' nanny (I am Canadian, so sexual assault is just a legal euphemism for rape) could really compromise his domestic bliss. These are the people who should be protecting this woman and she has even told them what happened and all they tell Pete is, yeh, we understand you need to get laid while your wife is away but please just do it to someone else. Gives me the creeps, which I guess was the point.

Legal Definition, Again

I don't think that bringing up the legal definition of rape is counterproductive. As has been stated, laws can change, and knowing what they are is quite helpful. There are obviously gray areas within the law - and morally. With Pete's actions, there were no moral gray areas. Legally, it might be another matter - possibly coercion, instead of rape. But what's wrong with knowing the law? Though there are awful actions that are not condemned by the law, I think that in general people underestimate their legal rights. They think sexual harassment, "mild abuse," or behavior like Pete's isn't illegal.

I do think it's interesting that people were expecting more from Pete, or were disappointed in him, but I thought the signs of him being a rapist were there all along. In fact, I highly doubt this is the first time he has done this. In the first episode, he tries to put his hand up a woman's skirt several times, in spite of her protests, spoken and physical. He puts his hand on her arm to prevent her from leaving. She tells him he's hurting her. He lets her go because he is afraid she will make a scene. While Pete is an object of pity, he is clearly quite twisted. We see numerous examples of his confused (entirely selfish) sense of ethics throughout the show, not to mention his bizarre fantasies.

I don't think the writers are asking us to love him. I think they are portraying a fairly realistic character who just doesn't get it. He may have an inkling of his problems (when he cries to Trudy, but rather quickly recovers). As often happens in real life, he isn't just going to change into a sensitive person with some simple love and care, or even when he sees damage he's done. (His reaction to Peggy when she tells him about their baby: "Why are you telling me this?" It's almost always about him.) It's a little weird that a few people are upset that Pete is so "villainous" - uh, there are people like this out there. We've probably all met a few.

On a related note, I really like the idea behind the book "Yes Means Yes." It shows that sexual encounters should be enthusiastic yes's, instead of just not blatant no's.

Not a criticism of Yes Means

Not a criticism of Yes Means Yes, which I haven't read beyond snippets here and there, but that idea is an old one that feminist legal theorists, and most particularly Catharine MacKinnon, have been advocating forever, if you're interested in further reading.

BTW I love Yes Means Yes.

BTW I love Yes Means Yes. It's an amazing tool for casual readers, students, and even educators. It's really helped me express some of the feelings I had towards my sexuality and surviving to yes (another awesome piece).
But what I wanted to mention was that while I don't necessarily like how it was portrayed because of how the casual observer would interpret it, it does open the doors to talk about it a bit better than SVU. My boyfriend is avidly (and violently) anti-rape (seriously, his reactions even scare me sometimes because I'm afraid he'll get himself in serious trouble), and a good thing to mention when talking about this episode is something I introduced him to: Men Can Stop Rape. Wonderful organization with a fabulous website.
But on that note I have to go to class now... I could talk all day about this.

Sexism is disgusting

Sexism of any kind is disgusting. The fact that an organization is called Men Can Stop Rape exists, but there doesn't seem to be an equivalent "Women Can Stop Rape" group helping women to stop raping men... really shows that our society is headed into a downward spiral and FAST.

There is this stereotype in society that all men are tools... that all men want to have sex all of the time with anyone... that all men are pushovers for an attractive woman... that all men cheat... etc...

Yet, you create a show about women who cheat on their husbands or use their years of training in seducing men to lure the pool boy into bed and the show is called "Desperate Housewives" and not "Women Rape And Cheat, Too." Really? Are we all serious about this?

A man cheats on his wife and society applauds her when she takes the kids and runs. A woman cheats on her husband and takes off with the kids and society applauds her for escaping her workaholic husband? Is this for real? Are the blinders really that thick for anyone to not see the double-standard that is tearing social values apart at the very seams?

Subtle? Yes. Gray Area? No. Pete Campbell IS a Rapist.

I agree that Mad Men is a somewhat understated show that explores the subtleties of American society and the gray areas of classical American ethics. That being said, I completely agree that Pete Campbell is a rapist. I think the reason the show did not make the rape "obvious" (like you say, most rapes are not alleyway attacks) is to bring to light the disastrous effects of strict gendered behavior codes in the 1960's AND TODAY. This is still a problem! The girl did not scream "no." But, as others point out so astutely, she did not say "yes," either. And Campbell is obviously a victim/perpetrator of an extremely unhealthy masculinity complex that urges men to consider themselves entitled to sex with whomever they find appealing. Campbell has shown warning signs of this kind of behavior earlier in the show. When he slept with Peggy, he was somewhat violent and tore her blouse. In some circumstances, clothes-ripping and urgency can add to the sex appeal of the scene, but I remember the mood of that particular encounter being somewhat dark and awkward (perhaps because it lead to an unwanted pregnancy?). That's the kind of subtlety that sets Mad Men apart form other clichéd TV shows. I am grateful that the show is not afraid to portray these kinds of situations. And I am a huge fan of the show! Thanks for blogging about it!

one more log on the fire

I'm a new viewer of Mad Men: this was the fourth episode of the show that I've seen. Fortunately, I watch it with my sister-in-law who fills me in on all the backgrounds of the characters and the stories from the previous seasons. In the short time that I've seen him, Pete has always seemed like a complete snake oil salesman to me - I found his behavior in this episode to be totally consistent, and reprehensible.

I agree with you that this is a rape. In this case, the rape revolves around Pete using his superior social standing, his knowledge of the damaged dress, his favor of replacing the dress, and the veiled threat to Gudrun's employment, as the power that he has over Gudrun to get what he wants. [On a side note: let's please use the character's name - Gudrun - where ever we can instead of relegating her to the oblivion of stereotypes like "the au pair", "the German nanny", or "the victim", Ok?]

Rape is, at its core, about power inequity. For me, the term "rape" always conjures the ridiculous stereotype of the physically forced rape. But more often than not, rape is about power in so many different arenas that the forcible rape is undoubtedly the least common occurrence of it. I think this episode beautifully captured a far more common type power situation that resulted in rape. What needs to be acknowledged is not that it IS rape (which is what you keep saying), but WHAT constitutes rape: it's not about physical power in most situations, it's about a whole spectrum of power plays unfolding between the rapist and the victim, and sometimes the rapist doesn't even know it.

For me, the obliviousness of the Pete's character to his wrong doing is heightened when his neighbor Ed Lawrence (Gudrun's host father) essentially condones what happened, and only objects to it because it might inconvenience his wife's happiness and home life. Frankly, his response and how it reflects on that time period is more shocking than anything Pete could have done.

What I found inconsistent in the scene was that Gudrun, after telling Pete "No" once, and him walking away, would answer the door in the middle of the night, and let him in when she had 2 small children in the apartment to care for and protect.

I think the fact that Gudrun

I think the fact that Gudrun opened the door at all is an example of the rules that were mentioned in the blog proper. By opening the door to the aggressor, it means that she's not placing the children in any danger, because she's the one who has been trained to do that. It's a case of "keeping the kids safe" as you say.

I would also like to applaud you for standing up and making us realize what we were doing by denying Gudrun her name.

Actually, the kids were not

Actually, the kids were not present at the time, as it was during August, when all the wives and kids were away. (Pete asks her in their first encounter, "When are they coming home.") Not sure where the father was during this scene, but presumably out catting around.

As for opening the door, I get the impression that she didn't suspect anything dangerous, so wasn't on her guard.

And I believe that Pete had designs on her from their first encounter and that was what motivated him to help her with the dress, rather than any decency at all. He was hoping she would be grateful.

When I first saw the episode, I thought that their encounter was consensual, because she does put her hands on his arms, and anyway because there is all kinds of confusing consensual sex in this show, so I have given up trying to understand motivations. (I do still wonder about the choice to have her appear to embrace him when he kissed her, although I don't say that I can actually see her "kissing him back").

It was only during the scene with the employer that I realized what happened. Because why would she be crying her eyes out and telling her employer about the situation if it was just a fling that she may have regretted the next day. (If she was upset about cheating on her boyfriend, she could have just kept her mouth shut.) That realization was very chilling for me. It also made me wonder if that was the situation with some of the secretaries we had seen crying in the bathroom at Sterling Cooper.

It's interesting that coming to her in the middle of the night, after drinking, was the same pattern that he used with Peggy the first time they had sex. In Peggy's case, though, she was very willing (one example of the baffling consensual sex in the program). I also thought it ironic when Pete first encountered Gudrun and said, "I won't get you in trouble." Foreshadowing??

Changing Perceptions

This is the great thing about the show--that it brings these issues to light and encourages open dialogue about a topic that is not typically discussed in mainstream conversations. People have this image that rape is a man crawling into a woman's bedroom window in the middle of the night and beating the hell out of her, because that's the way rape is portrayed in movies and shows like Law and Order. I am glad that they have written the Joan episode and this episode into the show because it starts the public dialogue going about rape.

I'm not gonna argue with the

I'm not gonna argue with the "Pete is a rapist" line of reasoning, but the notion that someone we know and trust "couldn't do such a thing" isn't just about rapists. I work in the court, and every time someone with community or tight family connections commits a crime of any kind, there are dozens of letters to the judge claiming either that they must be innocent, or that sentencing should be light. People just don't want to believe that their own judgments about a person's character could be wrong. Also, if the case is highly publicized, you get just as many strangers urging the judge to "throw the book at 'em" because obviously this damaged individual represents all that is wrong in the world. *sigh* Humans are so predictable.

Where is the line drawn?

I find your definition of rape pretty fascinating. My gut reaction was to disagree. The only reason this is the case is because I envision rape as being either:

1) Getting someone drunk, then having sex with them.
2) Having sex with a minor.
3) Physically forcing someone to have sex while they kick and scream and try to get away.

Imagining that "rape" could entail one person influencing another person through charm or verbal insistence leads me to realize that my ex-wife raped me. As such, I suddenly feel a whole lot more violated. I used to feel bad about myself... and the poor decisions I made... and the things I allowed to happen... but now that you have put it into perspective and that she had raped me, I wonder if I had lost an opportunity to press charges against her and feel a lot better about myself. Rather than feeling like I am a victim of my own inability to stand up for myself, I am realizing that I am simply a victim of her words and actions.

Given this, I am torn. I can see both sides, but the question is now... where do we draw the line? Or, is there a line at all? When it comes to social understanding and especially law, there NEEDS to be a line. Without the line, if I say something is blue and you say it's green, then there is a clear breakdown in communication. If we can both agree something is a greenish blue or a bluish green, we come closer to understanding each other. At some point, there is a line between what constitutes green and what constitutes blue.

Take, for instance, stealing. Someone can walk up to me on the street and punch me in the face, pin me to the ground, pull my wallet out of my pocket and run away. Clearly a mugging. That thief stole my wallet!

Now, imagine I walk into a store to see what kinds of digital cameras are out these days. I might buy one, but I'm not quite sure. A sales person approaches me and asks if I need any help. I say "no thanks." So, he hangs around telling me "if there is anything you need, just ask. I'm here to help." Then, as he sees me holding two cameras, comparing specifications, he chimes in, "That one has a better zoom. Trust me, you won't want to buy a digital camera that doesn't have decent zoom." He planted the seed in my head. My decision has been swayed. I buy the camera that he suggested, because of the decent zoom. After getting home with my new digital camera, reality sinks in. Buyer's remorse. I didn't really NEED to get that camera TODAY. What if there is a better camera that I could find online for less money? Was the zoom of the other cheaper camera really THAT much better? I didn't compare. I took his word for it. That darned sales person tricked me into buying the more expensive camera. I told him I didn't want help, but he found a way to dupe me anyway. That thief stole my money!

Where is the line drawn? If I had been less of a timid person and more forceful, and just told the sales person "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not looking for advice right now." and then walked away, there wouldn't be a problem. I'd still have my money. I'd still have more time to think about it all. Instead, he hit me over the head with his approachability, pinned me to the ground with his knowledge, and ripped money right out of my wallet with his sales training. That rapist!

Or, do we need to have some accountability for ourselves? Perhaps our parents should have more accountability for how they raised us? That we need to set boundaries and not allow people to overstep these boundaries. By allowing people to overstep our boundaries, we are sending a message that the boundaries were never there to begin with. Here's an example:

I used to swim a lot. I enjoyed swimming. Then, I almost drowned. Now, I have an illogical phobia of drowning. I can get into water, but I cannot submerge my head. On one hand, with enough will-power, I CAN do it. I just need to be left alone. Encouraged, but left alone. When people hang around me or talk to me while I'm trying to do it, I get nervous. What happens, instead, is people encourage me to get in the water at first... but realizing that I have a phobia, they comfort me and tell me not to worry about it. "You don't have to," they say.

The reality of it is... I WANT to. When they tell me "you don't have to" I give up. I cave in. I throw in the towel. I decide "oh well, maybe next time." But if they try to FORCE me to, I panic... I turn away... I run. So, there's a tricky balance that plays out in my own head. I WANT to be forced a LITTLE... let's call it "encouraged"... but not TOO much. So, if someone forces me... or doesn't encourage me enough... whose fault is it? It is my fault? Is it their fault? Is it a combination of both?

So, going back to the idea of "rape". Certainly, if a person is drunk or underage, they are being taken advantage of. If they are being propositioned by their boss or another superior, there's something questionable going on. If the person is kicking and screaming and trying to get away, then it's pretty clear-cut... it's rape. But if the person initially says no, but just stands there while being kissed... is lowered onto a bed, but does not try to pull away or kick... is it clear-cut rape? If so, then it really starts to throw a wrench into many other scenarios. If my boss, using his authority, convinces me to do more work than I feel comfortable doing, do anti-slavery laws apply? If my wife wants sex and I'm not in the mood, but she seduces me, is she raping me? If I already had to say "no" once to that salesman, did he just steal from me? If saying hurtful words is the same as causing physical pain on someone, and I tell my child that he can't play with the toy anymore because it is bed time, am I abusing my child? Are the definitions of abuse, rape, and stealing bound by finite descriptions based on the outcome of the only person performing the actions, or are there other shades of grey needed to determine what percentage of fault each person needs to be held responsible for?

I'd love for these definitions to be more clearly defined, because I need to know whether or not I should press charges on my ex-wife, file suit that that darned sales person, or turn myself in for keeping toys from my child at bedtime.

language gives us the

Mad men does not suck

Pete raped that girl. He raped her in the 60s when rape was not thoroughly defined and when women were blamed for it.

Pete didn't feel guilty about what he did, he didn't see it as wrong. He only became upset about the incident when he was called out by a man.

Mad men is about culture in the 1960s the truth about the nostalgic time our parents tell us was full of better stuff than today.

However, in reality "we have come a long way baby", today no means no it didn't in the past. Women fought for this, and we have to continue to fight.

The show depicts how it was like to live as a woman in the 1960s every time I watch the show I think a little more about what my mom went through and how the women of her time made my life so much easier.

that is why it is a great show.

There's no black and white


This is a great article, thanks for writing it.
Pete Campbell IS a rapist!
I've been in similar situations and thought I had no other choice(I know better and have much more love for myself now, enough to not let something like that happen again). Just because there was no screaming and knee's to the groin doesn't mean it wasn't rape.

Law of rape

For all the people who say this was not legally rape: I'm pretty (not absolutely) sure it was. I'm not a lawyer but I seem to remember that physical force (or underage or mental state) are not the only legal criteria for rape. Coercion by means other than violence is (I think) legally recognized. I'm pretty sure blackmailing someone for sex is legally recognized as a form of coercion that constitutes rape.

Maybe an actual attorney who specializes in criminal law will care to post on this, but in the meantime, I'm 90% sure I remember correctly.

Rhett Butler is a Rapist.

He had sex with Scarlett after physically picking her up and carrying her up the stairs and her striking him on the shoulders the whole trip up. He also made it clear to her that he was going to have sex with her regardless of whether or not she wanted to. He had waited long enough.

Given this, Scarlett's response the following morning was strange. She seemed not displeased with the events of the previous evening.

These fictional characters can be extremely frustrating - sometimes they behave in unexplainable ways.

The minute I saw this

The minute I saw this episode, it was just so clear in my mind that he raped her. He did her a "favor" which he then throws back in her face as though the reciprocity for getting a new dress is to give up your body. She had already turned him down saying that she had a bf, which wasn't enough for Pete. Pete was going to do what he wanted, to whom he wanted. He had all the power because he fixed her problem, he could tell her employer and she could lose her job, and he's showing up at night which would be scary for anyone. So many rape victims don't fight back because of the power (be it physical or otherwise) exercised by their rapist. She may have kissed him back and gone with it but at that point, I just thought she was just accepting what was happening to her because she was powerless and could do nothing about it. Not because she changed her mind and wanted to have sex with the jerk. Pete is a rapist and I'm so glad you said it!

Wow you're angry! Pete Campbell is a rapist

I inadvertently found this page looking for a Mad Men directory of episodes. Have never heard of Bitch magazine, but read this article an, this will be a disturbing episode to see when I see it. Saw it last night and wonder what all the fuss is about? I read all these other posts and it's probably not an unbiased sample if your magazine's readership is a bunch of women SEEKING to be angry, but I think the article is nuts. I expected to see Pete forcing himself on some kid...but the scene while uncomfortable was no way what normal people would identify as rape. To be sure, Pete is a jerk, and the girl's an idiot...but she opened the door, and was embracing his arm--not in a defensive way--when he leaned in to kiss her. Bad judgement taking advantage of a fragile young woman? Abolutely. way. You want to see rape, watch the scene in The Sopranos when Dr. Melfi gets attacked in the parking garage...that'll give you something to react to if you're looking for catharsis. But let me give you a bit of unsolicited advice...if you want to be a professional writer, commentator, or journalist, get a pen name for drivel like this since in the age of the internet, bad writing like this will follow you around for years and you'll look back and regret how this reveals silly thinking. If a Pete Campbell knocks on your door one day, how about this: just don't be an idiot and let him in to kiss you? Problem solved. Then you can write about material things like health care, global warming, starvation, war, disease etc...not bad behavior as depicted on a TV show.

"bunch of women SEEKING to be

"bunch of women SEEKING to be angry" The emphasis on "seeking" sounds like you are implying that all women have to search out trivial things and exaggerate them to be angry on behalf of their sex. As a woman, I don't have to SEEK things to be angry about because of my sex - I can find it in my everyday life and in my past - but that does not make me angry. As an example of something that I could be angry about is how the greatest commodities women can have are a great body and good looks. And since we are talking about Mad Men, note Peggy and how people frequently comment on her "dowdy appearance", what about the beauty of men? Irrelevant. Because men don't need attractiveness for upward mobility, they already have the status based on their sex. From a position of privilege (i.e. a hegemonic male POV), these things may not be apparent to you but they are apparent for others who are not of the privileged sex. And if you disagree about this statement, look up the crime rate for rape victims in the U.S. and yearly wages for men and women.

" the scene while uncomfortable was no way what normal people would identify as rape." Actually, some people in the aforementioned posts - if you would care to read some of them - did classify this situation as "rape". Whether or not they are considered normal is subjective. Calling your stance on the issue "normal" is also subjective, and I would actually call it an opinion - one of which I strongly disagree. Also, your us vs. them discourse is evident because you're indirectly including yourself in the normal category, while distancing yourself from the "others" (angry, hellbent women seeking trivial things to get all huffed up about).

"You want to see rape, watch the scene in The Sopranos..." THIS IS NOT AN EXAMPLE OF ALL RAPES. I think the Mad Men episode is a good example of the rapes that typically occur and the Sopranos example you so expertly pointed out is an example of the rapes we hear about in the media, but of which are a minority of rape cases. Why? Because these are sensational stories - the most extreme acts of violence in an already violent category.

"...that'll give you something to react to if you're looking for catharsis." No thanks, I'll just react to this inane post of yours.

"But let me give you a bit of unsolicited advice..." and you forgot to mention completely unnecessary.

"just don't be an idiot and let him in to kiss you?" Why don't you stop being an idiot for thinking that a woman is idiotic in a situation where a man is taking advantage of her! What is wrong with you. And she let him in because he was an acquaintance - which is the typical relationship between a rape victim and a rapist.

"Then you can write about material things like health care, global warming, starvation, war, disease etc...not bad behavior as depicted on a TV show." AGAIN WITH THE TALKING DOWN, we get it, you thing you are God's gift to reason. Rape is just as important as other global issues - because you think rape isn't just shows how narrow-minded you are.

Nice job blaming the victim.

Nice job blaming the victim. Rape does not have to be violent to be coercive and to destroy a person's life. Your attitude is so incredibly damaging and destructive. I hope a rape survivor never turns to you for support. You are what is known as a rape sympathizer.

I have to say that don't

I have to say that don't watch the show and don't follow the subject, but I wonder why is it so hard for people to call rape a RAPE when it's unreal situation? All the characters are fictional. What is going to happen to them if we all call his conduct rape? If people shy away from that, though, it tells every girl and woman that when it happens to them, just a few will call it rape either. If people can't call it rape when a fictional character does it, how likely are they to use that word when it's the "nice boy" down the street?
But I'm really glad the society began to talk about rape more openly and honestly.

nice topic

thanks for sharing your content with us. I liked it.

Mixed messaged made us miss the point

Having come to this episode well after the fact, listened to interviews, and listened to the commentary I've come to the following conclusion:
1) It was rape but Pete didn't know she was upset by the encounter until confronted by the next door neighbor.
- Per the commentary Pete had no ulterior motive, no intention for sex until she rejected him with the "I have a boyfriend" and he got drunk when left to his own devices.
- The script says she kisses him back - the actor (Vincent Kartheiser) didn't play it like rape because he didn't think it was supposed to be. IMO VK wouldn't have shied from doing a rape scene BTW (he's done far worse in movies) but that wasn't how he was directed to play the scene.
- During the commentary, the creator talked about it and said Pete didn't rape her but 'forced' the issue. To me the show creator (Matthew Weiner) is using the requirement of saying "no" and physically resisting. The writer made a comment about her inviting Pete back to the room. But both writer and show creator said she didn't really want to have sex but went along with it. It was also clear to me that they addressed the topic head-on in the commentary BECAUSE of the "Pete is a rapist" reaction. That wasn't their intent but they also clearly don't want to say those who have that interpretation (that it was rape) are "wrong".
2) The intent of the show's creator was to show the upstairs/downstairs class differences. He says that right at the start of the episode. Pete is supposed to feel awful not only because he cheated on his wife but took advantage of someone. The reason I don't label Pete as a "rapist" was because it wasn't his intent. She seemed willing to him when he came back for a second try. Per the commentary he didn't intend to use the dress as a quid pro quo when he got it fixed. Pete didn't realize she went along because of class differences until confront by the neighbor and then he's truly upset.
3) Pete demonstrated this cluelessness when he asked Hollis about why he bought an Admiral television. When he stopped the elevator, the black operator took a step back as if scared. When Pete said "it's just Pete and Hollis", the elevator operator said "Mr Campbell" to make it clear to Pete that this was not the case.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Pete was in any way right to have sex with the au pair. I'm just saying he was clueless and the DVD commentary/script/and interviews back that up.

The point of the encounter, per Matt Weiner, was to show two things:
1) For Pete to realize what he actually did was exploit the social class difference and to see the wrongness
2) For Pete to realize he literally can't cheat on Trudy because he loves her and is overcome by guilt

So... I actually object to the notion of writing "Pete Campbell is a rapist" nine times because I think it's the equivalent of saying "Murder 1" vice "Manslaughter". Intent matters. Yes, at the end of the day the girl had sex she didn't want. IMO it didn't occur to Pete that she didn't think she could say "no".

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