Don Draper is a Lie

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. Don Draper is emotional porn–objectifying a man down to easily grasped explanations–with no more depth then that entails.

    Now let’s talk about what Little Annie Fannie has to say about modern womanhood.

    • I’ve only watched about one episode of the show but I wonder if this is the case. Are people so into this show not because Draper may be some useful examination of manhood but because they enjoy seeing him (and the era of manhood he represents) writhe in agony.

  2. Tom, you continue to impress me. I would like to share your article with the boys on my unit. All are looking at time at DOC, all struggle with what it is to be a man. Some of these boys that I work with are where the inmates you’ve met, were at one time in their lives. Thaks again for a great article.

    Tom B aka Brechlintom

  3. Don Draper says:

    I am NOT a LIE!!! (And don’t call me “Dick” :))

  4. Amazon has a special feature (free) where a bunch of CEOs and leadership coaches try to ride Don’s coattails by claiming that his qualities are what they posses and what they teach. It’s very gag worthy and proof that humorless business leaders just don’t get satire. Before Don Draper we had the worship of Tony Soprano. It was the same thing. It’s satire. In the end if you didn’t have at least some portion of people going for it hook, line, and sinker, then there wouldn’t be anything for the rest of us to laugh at.

  5. Tom, thanks so much for this article. After two years of researching modern masculinity, this is by far the most succinct and thoughtful account I have found. I admire your ability to look into your own manliness, often with a critical eye in order to help form and inform other men. I said it once, I wills say it again, keep up the great work. The world needs more men like you!

  6. “Don Draper is the worst kind of male cliché.”

    He’s the sort of clueless attempt you are going to get from a young women writers who think they understand men.

    “Hanna Rosin was publishing her Atlantic article about how the 21st century man has fallen far behind the real-life Peggy Olsons of the world.”

    And look – the women writers don’t have to be young to be stupid. Hanna Rosin is a bourgeois parasite who lives on the labor of those men she says are such losers.

    “I’ve spoken to thousands of men, and boys, over the last three years as part of a The Good Men Project and the universal theme is an end to men’s silence. And they don’t take kindly to being criticized for it. Not long ago, I was being interviewed on a Boston radio show about the “new macho” when I got a couple of callers in a row questioning my manhood. ”

    Tom, the whole artricle is good, but here is where oyu strike gold.

    The key is why men are doing this. If men are “being sensitive” in order to show women what good men they are, that’s just more performance. We had all that back in the 70s. A woman’s approval should mean nothing when it’s about your own emotions.

    And a woman who questions a man’s manhood because he is being a full human being, and demanding respect for his issues, is a sexist pig and needs to be called a sexist pig, to her face, in public.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Jim if you didn’t see this you get a kick out of it. I wrote a piece for the NYT blog about how I actually think guys living alone are missing something because I frankly love to cuddle with my wife and kids. A female writer at Gawker took issue with my piece and called me a pussy. Exactly your point. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks, female or male. I like to cuddle with my wife. It makes me happy.

      • I think I remember that when it happened.

        That’s a hell of a double bind we are in Tom.

        Guys who want to cuddle with their partners are pussies.
        Guys who want someone to cuddle with but don’t have anyone are called pussies.
        Guys who don’t want someone to cuddle with are heartless jerks.

        Goddamn are we really playing “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” rules?

        • Perhaps that’s part of the problem of being in a time where the definition of what it means to be a man is changing. There are people who are desperately trying to hold onto the old definition (Real guys don’t cuddle) and then there are those who are trying to force everyone into the new definitions (Good guys do cuddle).

        • Since when is a pussy a bad thing? People seem to work pretty hard to get it! Maybe we should stop thinking of it as a bad thing?

          And I’d rather date a dude who people called a “pussy” than a jerk, thank you very much.

    • Yes, blame the young female writing staff for Don Draper, and not the head creator and writer, Matthew Wiener, who has pretty much said in interviews that Don is sometimes an extension of himself. Ha.

      I agree that men and their issues deserve respect, as people, just like women and their issues deserve respect. But some of your language in that post makes me wonder if you don’t deserve to be called a sexist pig in public. I hope I’m wrong.

      • Dr. Anonymous says:

        What about all the young white progressive female feminists who drool after Don Draper?
        Maybe that is why men are revolting against modern society. Being told to be one thing, and then see young women worshipping the opposite.

  7. I’m a bit confused by your take on Don Draper. While I know especially early on, many men saw him as an ideal and some women too– he’s attractive and accomplished, all the women want him and all the men want to be him. But I think the show has actually really shown that that is fake, that it is a lie. I think we have seen consequences for his actions. Part of why Betty is so damaged is from the emotional abuse she suffered from Don lying to her and blocking her off emotionally for so many years. We have seen Don at many lows in the show, as a pathetic alcoholic, we’ve seen him depressed and desperate and sad. I think we DO see consequences, and we’ve seen people in his world hurt because of his bad behavior. Frankly, while the show is full of complicated, flawed people, Don is one of the most flawed, and most of the people I know, men and women, find him to be one of the least likable characters on the show. We love John Hamm, but hate Don. He is no ideal. And I do actually think that reading between the lines that is very much there in the show (though they could show it more).


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