mine: mcu

What happens when a feminist show has only male writers?

Agent Carter.

It’s been made pretty obvious, I think, that I love Agent Carter like the sun.  The show is well done with interesting characters and amazing actors and, you know, Marvel.  And I love that it’s a show that doesn’t hold back on the female point of view; I’ve seen a few reviews scattered around about how it uses a sort of gimmicky fake sexism, blown completely out of proportion, because all the men are buffoons.  But they’re not, not all of them, and the ones who are…oh my god, if you don’t think women actually deal with guys like the one at the automat who are as ready to insult your intelligence as slap your ass NOW, much less in 1946, you are severely mistaken.  Nevermind the seedier sort that comes from the men Peggy works with, the intrinsic, fundamental belief that women are simply not as capable at field work and are better suited for filing and lunch orders.

HOWEVER.

The whole idea of this woman in a man’s world kick ass and taking names and taking a sledgehammer to the glass ceiling is all well and good, but seems to take a total 180 at the end.  As much as I love the “I know my value” quote, the context irritates the hell out of me.  In that moment, the lesson goes from “demand respect” to “respect yourself”, which is all well and good, but was never really the issue.  Peggy Carter knew how good she was, she had respect for herself, that’s why she was so understandably frustrated when no one else seemed to recognize her value.

The fact is, the moment she goes all -brave face- and lets someone like Jack Thompson get credit for her work, she is practically holding up a neon sign that says “DISRESPECT ME AND SUFFER NO CONSEQUENCES”.  In the real world, at least for women, respect isn’t earned just by consistently doing good work.  It’s not even earned by continually going above and beyond, in most cases.  It won’t make you look stronger to not need acknowledgement.  All that’s accomplished by doing good work with or without the respect of your peers, ultimately, is that they realize they never have to respect you in order to get you to work.

In the real world, Peggy Carter would be tossed back to coffee and phones until the next time everything went pear shaped, and then they’d beg for her help, and then happily credit any success to their own due diligence, because they can.

And really, that’s not the Peggy Carter that I know.  The character I know would have been the one going “Oh, right, Agent Thompson, what made you think to go to the airport?  And how on earth did you talk Stark down?  Oh, my and that Russian assassin, that was tough, wasn’t it?”

But that would be messy and pushy and bitchy and we can’t have that.  So, ultimately, everything gets undercut in one scene–her entire arc of trying to earn the place she ALREADY EARNED tenfold, Jack’s maybe-not-such-a-terrible-person arc the moment he ONCE AGAIN scoops up credit for a thing he didn’t do–and we’re supposed to be alright with that because Peggy is.

Well, I’m not.  It’s a very male idea of what female triumph is supposed to look like.   Because in the end, it’s only men who demand recognition and women, being the softer, gentler sex, learn the real worth is in respecting oneself regardless of what other people think.   But as a female, it feels like defeat, and that it hints at some really grim possibilities when it comes to season 2.