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Lay Off Betty Draper-Francis

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated May 25, 2011

I feel like one of the few who cheered when Betty decided to leave Don for Henry Francis.
Some reviewers are judging Betty's decision through their own liberated glasses. Alas, the Betty Drapers of America needed to build a life raft because they were completely dependent upon the patriarch to provide for them and their children. Betty's parents are dead and it's a good guess that moving in with her brother's family is less appealing than a Henry Francis union. Sure, we'd love to see her grow a liberated backbone and strike out on her own, but as Bert Cooper said about those who love risk -- they can't imagine the consequences. Betty is not just a wife, but a mother. Beyond her wants, she has three needs to literally feed. Her new man, so far, seems to have responsibility ingrained at a molecular level. This may make Henry boring, but the dashing and exciting bad boy ended up being a sh*t husband. Good for Betty. As far as other fans speculating that Henry wants control over Betty, it's too soon to tell for me. But how many options would come to a woman in the small town of Ossining?

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One of the wonderful aspects of Mad Men is the show's blunt portrayal of women as second class citizens both in the work force and at home. Most housewives were brought up to be the passive arm charms and babymakers that their husbands wanted. The very old-school husband didn't even want his wife to work because it would make him appear that he couldn't provide for his family. The wife stayed home, compromising her pride for her husband's. Should the husband divorce or die, a wife was left with little to no means of support. In the Draper residence, it's hard to imagine that Don wouldn't have eventually left home through another woman or self-destruction. What would Betty do for money? Her only marketable skill was being young and pretty -- and that modeling ship has sailed.

Sure, she could have hired a private detective to catch Don in all his sloppy liaisons, thus granting a tidy divorce with sweet alimony. But she's no divorcee. Circumstances and conditioning have led her to be a compliant wife. Opportunity knocked for Mrs. Draper to become Mrs. Francis. Not all women were on the road towards equality and Betty certainly doesn't have the mindset of an independent, liberated woman. A colleague of mine (and fellow Mad Men addict) brought up Phyllis Schlafly. As recently as 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be ratified because of Schlafly's campaign against it. Women's identities have come a longer way than a Virginia Slim.

I like that Betty has found a provider that shows her the attention and affection that Don didn't. Maybe this will finally be a laxative for her emotional constipation. Now, if only the old man could stay awake on a plane en route to their marriage.