Saturday, November 29, 2008

Perfect for Whom?

Mad Men is one of my favorite shows, so much so that I don't even trust it to the perfect television nanny that is TiVo. The series is an iPhone obsession I treat myself to for my Metro North commute, which runs parallel to the Ossining-to-Grand Central Terminal route Don Draper take when he bothers to go home (which isn't often, as it happens).

I don't need to explain the obsession to people in the know. But I have some personal reasons, too: It takes place at a time in my native New York City that was a Golden Age, during the afterglow of World War II when the Greatest Generation was giving way to a bunch of Boomers who would shepard this nation to a period of great prosperity and fairness.

It was the Boomers who decided that Gays were not "perverts" -- as described by one Mad Man -- and who changed the world just enough so that a black man who's greatest realistic aspiration might have been to operate an elevator at Sterling Cooper could now imagine becoming president of the United States, and make it so.

Alas -- I gush a little. I wasn't even in grade school yet during the Mad Men era, but I was a sentient being during the turbulent '60s when, among other things, feminism stopped being a dirty word.

In those days newspaper want ads still listed positions by gender, as in "Help Wanted - Male" and "Help Wanted - Female." I don't recall specifically what the different jobs were, but I am sure that in the main men were being offered executive positions and women to be their secretaries. This is the caste system in Mad Men -- which is another reason to cheer for Peggy Olson, who earns a spot at the copywriters table and one of the best offices in the place on talent alone.

So, how much has changed in the four generations which have transpired? Fair warning -- I'll make too much of what is to follow.

I was checking my iPhone account at AT&T wireless and noticed they were having a sale. There is one ad which says, "Perfect for Him," and another which said "Perfect for Her." For the life of me, it's difficult to see what features these two phones have which are gender specific, or which could be.

The "her" phone is narrower, but features text and email and all the things everyone (and the other phone) does. Neither Blackberry nor Apple, which dominate the Smartphone phone business, see the need to offer manly and girlie versions of their products.

So what gives? You be the judge:

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