New Feminist Term: Peggy Olson-ing
For those uninitiated to the magic of Neko Case, let this be a primer. Case is a singer-songwriter, who performs both solo and as part of the jangly-sweet Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers. Her last album, “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,” which came out last year, is a nice representation of her style: catchy, guitar-driven, and lyrically interesting.
Case is also one of those stars that you only like more because of their Twitter presence. Like this weekend, when she protested a post from Playboy magazine on the social media website.
The magazine tweeted a positive review of Case’s new album, with the note that Case “is breaking the mold of what women in the music industry should be.”
Case did not appreciate that assessment of her work. “I AM NOT A … ‘WOMAN IN MUSIC,’ I’M A … MUSICIAN IN MUSIC,” she wrote back to the magazine. “GET WITH THE PROGRAM.”
“And no, I didn’t read it,” Case added. “Wouldn’t be able to get past ‘Woman in…’ if I had no idea who I was, which is the point: women NOT a niche market.”
Other Twitter users responded to Case’s obvious irritation with some confusion. One in particular wrote to Case, “Never has a compliment been so vehemently rejected …”
Which is when Case introduced one of the best, most useful term that Twitter has come up with to date.
“DON’T PEGGY OLSON ME,” Case wrote back.
Peggy Olson, as most folks attentive to television in the past few years know, is a character on “Mad Men.” Her struggle to climb the corporate ladder in the sexist office environment that she started in is one of the main plotlines throughout the show.
But the utility of the term “Peggy Olson-ing” runs far outside the intricacies of the AMC series. It’s one of those cultural terms which immediately makes sense in context, and that fills a demonstrated need.
What does it mean to Peggy Olson someone? It means when you hear “that’s pretty good for a girl,” you’re supposed to be flattered by the “good” and ignore the “for a girl.” It means that recognizing a backhanded compliment as the backhand it is makes you ungrateful. It means that you should take what you can get and be happy with it.
Too often, women are told that they should be pleased with the attention and ignore the embedded insult, or that they’re selfish for wanting to be recognized in their own right, without a qualifier.
Stop “Peggy Olson-ing me” means “stop marginalizing me.” It means “consider my work first and my gender later.”
So thank you, Neko Case. And thank you, Peggy Olson, for inspiring a new term we’re sure to be using from here on out.