Al’s holding court with several of the cathouse prostitutes and tunes a mandolin. Sure, why not. Jake lumbers in, looking the worse for wear, and explains how he got jumped by O’Banion’s guy. At a speak on the Southside, which is Torrio’s territory. Al’s more concerned about the turf war until Jake talks about how being made fun of by Joe hurt because he can’t help how he smells. This cuts a little too close to home for Al, since he’s both guilty of being a bully toward Jake and heartbroken over Sonny’s bullying. Of course, he blows out of the cathouse before Jake can finish talking, and has unitentionally made the big guy feel worse, but he’s a grown gangster. He can handle it.
Margaret’s down on the boardwalk trying to publicize the new women’s clinic at St. Theresa’s to about as much success as you’d expect someone with a stack of flyers to be. She inadvertently calls a nanny “Ma’am,” who pointedly tells her she’s “Miss” because it’s not her baby then keeps walking along. Spying a woman who’s clearly with her own children, Margaret walks over and puts on her best cheery voice.
It’s just a piece of paper, MISS.
Except it’s Mrs. Shearer from the hospital. Margaret’s still trying to encourage her to come to the classes because they’re very informative. Mrs. Shearer thinks she knows all she needs to know but Margaret very kindly empathizes with her and says she felt that way too until she started planning the clinic. It looks like she’s about to get through to Mrs. Shearer when her husband comes out of the shop.
There’s a tense little moment about the candy he bought until Margaret introduces herself. His tension shifts from his wife to Margaret as he, too, assumes she’s trying to get them to pay their bill. Margaret assures him she’s not but when she starts to explain the women’s clinic Mrs. Shearer looks horror stricken and Margaret shifts the focus to being glad she’s doing well. Mr. Shearer keeps talking to Margaret like his wife can’t even speak for herself, saying that the “good lord saw to sparing her,” and that when she’s “up to it, they’ll try again.”
As the Shearer’s walk off the magnitude of getting the clinic off the ground hits Margaret. And this scene was interesting to me because they framed it in a way that really gets to the heart of the feminist movement. Mr. Shearer wasn’t an awful person. His attitude about his wife was likely the norm. He probably wasn’t physically abusive to her and provided as best he could for their large family. It was a struggle but he wasn’t Hans. And yet his wife was subordinate to him. She didn’t speak for herself, she panicked at Margaret bringing up a sensitive subject, she had virtually no say in if/when she’d get pregnant again and for any woman to make it in that time took a lot of hard work and resolve. I’m glad Margaret’s getting an empowerment storyline because that’s where she seemed to be headed in the first season.
How could he not be charmed by my hat?
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