Sexual harassment was a regular occurrence in the ’60s, misogynistic world of Mad Men. But according to a former writer, it happened behind the scenes of the acclaimed show as well.
Kater Gordon was a writing assistant throughout the second season. Creator Matthew Weiner respected her input so much, he gave her her big break: cowriting the season finale with him.
Unfortunately, Kater says one night when they were writing together he crossed the line. She told The Information:
“He told me that I owed it to him to let him see me naked.”
Ick. The Information confirmed with multiple sources that Gordon had shared the same story with them at the time, but she never reported it.
Why? For the same reason many don’t. The economics of consent:
“I thought. ├óΓé¼╦£I can’t do anything to jeopardize.’ I need this credit. I saw no value to speaking out. So I did what I thought women were supposed to do.”
Unfortunately keeping quiet didn’t protect her from what the remark did to her confidence when she became a staff writer full time in season three:
“I did my best to play along but couldn’t divorce him from the comment, and I lost respect. I couldn’t in good conscious support him the way I did the previous year.”
Another staff writer confirmed to The Information, via THR, that “something had changed” and he “could see her confidence was shaken.”
Gordon says Weiner was very vocal about his disappointment in her:
“He told me I was terrible at everything, from my work in the writers room to on set.”
That season finale they wrote together won the Emmy, but Gordon was fired after season three — a bad sign for other shows during hiring season:
“I had the Emmy, but instead of being able to use that as a launch pad for the rest of my career, it became an anchor because I felt I had to answer to speculative stories in the press. I eventually walked away instead of fighting back.”
Gordon moved away from Hollywood. She says she’s starting a non-profit for victims of sexual harassment called Modern Alliance. Her goal is to combine several other organizations trying to shed light on the problem into one unified force.
Meanwhile, Weiner’s rep released the following statement in response to the allegation:
“Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on Mad Men as his writers assistant. He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague. During the nine years he was showrunner on Mad Men, Mr. Weiner had a predominantly female driven writers room. He has long believed in and implemented an egalitarian working environment including the highest levels of production and writing based on mutual respect for all.”
What do YOU think about Gordon’s accusation?
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]