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Vegetable Soup Metaphor in Mad Men

Mad Men: Why Can't Women Be the Soup?

"It's a business of sadists and masochists," Miss Blankenship tells Peggy, "and you know which one you are." All the women in last night's episode of Mad Men are a bit of masochists in the context of feminism: they're all unhappy because of choices they made.

Joan chose marriage, which isn't working out as planned; Faye chose her career over marriage and kids, and worries people judge her; and Peggy, who's still making formative choices, chose to channel her creativity into increasing bottom lines. Though, channeling it into art seems a luxury too unrealistic for Peggy to have at this point. Ahead lies Miss Blankenship (spoiler!), face-down dead on the desk after spending her life answering men's phones; behind is Sally Draper, trying to persuade her father to let her move in by caring for him like a wife. All the women except Joyce, Peggy's lesbian friend, are increasingly unhappy with their choices, and the fact they have to choose at all.

Joyce sums up women's auxiliary role in an extended, and confusing, metaphor. Find out what it means below.


She compares men to vegetable soup and women to pots, with no other purpose than helping men be the best soup they can be. Why can't women be the meal?

"Men are like this vegetable soup. You can't put then on a plate or eat them off a counter. So women are the pot. They heat them up, hold them, contain them. Who wants to be a pot? Who the hell said we're not soup?"

At the end, by no accident, all four women leave through the elevator doors. Joyce exits first through an elevator on the left. Joan considers the same one, but ultimately takes the one on the right to another world. Fay and Peggy, condemned to the small box of their choosing, follow.

Photo courtesy of AMC

Join The Conversation
Briandiesel Briandiesel 6 years
Not that its a big deal, but Joan actually came out first.. haha. This episode was great, and I felt like the Sally storyline was great. The fact that she used rum instead of Mrs. Buttersworth was awesome!
stephley stephley 6 years
The soup metaphor's kind of lame, but women are always being defined in terms of their use to men. Women were seriously questioning their roles and their choices in the early 60s.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 6 years
Is anyone else tired of watching Joan regret getting married??
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