Why Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen Is A Feminist Icon

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in "Mad Men"

Mad Men may be set in the sexist era of the 60s, but that doesn’t stop Elisabeth Moss’ Peggy Olsen from being a timeless feminist icon. She begins her journey on Mad Men as a secretary but takes every opportunity she can to take on more responsibility and climb the corporate ladder. She’s irritatingly relatable and despite having a harder climb than her male peers, Peggy relentlessly pursues her goals in a way that is inspiring to the modern woman. Here are five reasons why Peggy Olsen is our TV feminist icon.

She Climbs The Corporate Ladder…

Peggy gets paid half the amount of her male peers and yet she works twice as hard. In season one, she impresses her male colleagues when she brings a feminine stance to their makeup account. It’s not long before she becomes an invaluable member of the team and a copywriter in her own right.

…But Also Has A Good Time

In addition to being a driven career woman, Peggy does let her hair down from time to time. She makes spontaneous decisions, parties in Manhattan, occasionally smokes marijuana and sleeps with whoever she wants to. She isn’t bogged down by society’s view of the “perfect woman” and she subsequently knows how to have a good time.

She Isn’t Afraid To Ask For More

In the spirit of Sheryl Sandberg, Peggy is not afraid to ask for more. Her male peers jealously wonder why it’s Peggy that receives her own office and the answer they are given is simply “she asked for it.” Peggy knows that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. She subsequently has no fear when it comes to demanding what she deserves.

She Makes Her Own Decisions

Peggy may not always make the best decisions, but she owns them. For example, in season one, she decides to give up her baby so that she can pursue her career. Down the line, she cruelly tells Pete about the baby and explains that she could have had him if she wanted, but she didn’t. Instead of choosing a man because that is what she is “supposed” to do, she makes her own decisions.

She Refuses To Use Her Sex Appeal To Get Ahead

Finally, Peggy relies on her creative talents to help her get ahead. In the early seasons, Joan frequently reminds her that she should use her womanhood to get whats he wants. Although Peggy considers the advice, she ultimately trusts in her own talents and intelligence to get her where she wants to be. And it pays off.