During early 1960s, the era during which TV’s Mad Men is set, there appeared on the publishing scene a young writer who expressed the up to then only whispered idea that single women not only had sex but enjoyed it. Thanks to Helen Gurley Brown’s gutsy outspokenness and the messages embodied in her magazine”Cosmopolitan,” the behind-closed (office)-doors sexual highjinks depicted so well on Mad Men came out of the closet.
Ms. Brown had already shaken a strait-laced public with her book Sex and the Single Girl, which was published in 1962, one year before Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Praised and criticized in equal measure for her stance, the debate continues today whether Ms. Brown’s influence helped or hindered the cause of women’s rights. This NY Times article by Margalit Fox offers an overview of Ms. Brown’s life and work.