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63 Gloriously Feminist Moments From "Agent Carter"


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Marvel's Agent Carter could have been cartoonishly sexist, but instead, the new ABC series, which premiered Jan. 6, is full of subtle and not-so-subtle moments of woman power that are great — just great. Set in the 1940s, it follows Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), a single woman, secret agent, and hero, as she struggles against sexist oppression without becoming a caricature of femininity or the might-as-well-be-a-male-character type that so often appears within action movies and TV shows.

Here are the show's best feminist moments:

1. Agent Carter starts the series with an awesome roommate who IS A LITERAL RIVETER.


She complains that she had to show a man how to use a rivet gun. Her name isn't Rosie, but it might as well be.

2. She also meets woman-on-woman misogyny with sass.


In fact, the difference between being an independent woman and a spinster is sexist assumptions! But shoes is a better joke; my joke wasn't great.

4. Agent Carter's male bosses treat her like a secretary, but she keeps finding ways to game the system.


When she's told to watch the phones while all the men are in an important meeting in the briefing room, Agent Carter tells the operator, "Rose, forward all calls to the briefing room." You thought you could shut her out but you THOUGHT WRONG, men.

5. Agent Carter has a male ally in the office.


Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) defends Carter when a male colleague makes a sexist joke about her. The best part of Sousa, though, is that he's a real male ally, which is to say that he listens to Carter when she tells him she doesn't want him to defend her. "I'm grateful," she says to him. "I'm also more than capable of handling whatever these adolescents throw at me." He lets her dictate the terms of his allying. It's the best.

It's also cool that he's a disabled character. Marginalized people uniting! Hopefully, Carter can learn to be a better ally to him.

6. When her male colleague Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) asks her to file something — because she's "better at that kind of thing" — she has the best response.

But, for some reason, she still takes these files from him, which kind of undermines her offer to teach Thompson the alphabet.

7. Being a woman is part of Agent Carter's experience, and so she has realistic gendered concerns.


She doesn't say, "The next time you approach someone in a dark alley, you might introduce yourself"; she says "a woman in a dark alley." Because she's a woman, and being approached by a stranger in a dark alley is not a gender-neutral experience!

8. Almost all of her male co-workers see her as less capable, so she uses their mistake against them.


She will serve coffee if it lets her spy on them to further her own agenda, damn it.

10. Jarvis (James D'Arcy), Howard Stark's (Dominic Cooper) butler and Carter's ally, attends to his wife's "needs."


It is so rare to see female sexuality presented in such a non-salacious, downright mundane way. JARVIS, you are the best.

12. Agent Carter uses "feminine" things in the line of duty.

She deactivates a bomb with some chemistry and a perfume bottle. She opens a locked drawer with a key disguised as a feminine decoration. She incapacitates a man using drugged lipstick. These items look "frivolous" because they're feminine, but actually, they're incredibly powerful. Just like Agent Carter herself.

13. Agent Carter has an awesome fight scene that gives new meaning to the phrase "a woman's place is in the kitchen."

16. And her relationships with other women are supportive.


After an awful customer slaps her server friend on the ass, Agent Carter threatens to stab him in the artery if he doesn't leave. And she orders him to tip well too.

Carter is not competing with her women friends. She's helping them!!!

17. There's a radio show in the second episode about Captain America and a hot triage nurse who can't do anything, and Agent Carter is having none of it.


Radio: "Triage nurse Betty Carver tidies up while the men defend their country."

Agent Carter: "Rubbish."

18. And there is an amazing fight scene that happens while the radio is blasting the silly Captain America show.

"If only Captain America were here to rescue me," says hot triage nurse Betty Carver on the radio, as Agent Carter proceeds to rescue herself. The make-believe heroism on the radio is a man's heroism, because no one can imagine a woman being heroic. The real heroism is a woman's, because duh.

20. But Agent Carter does need a person to help her, and Jarvis reminds her that cooperation — and not a hollow rhetoric of individualism — is necessary.


"Captain Rogers relied heavily on you for courage, strategy, and moral guidance," Jarvis tells her when she mistakenly insists that Captain America didn't need anyone's assistance. "Your desire to help others is noble, but I doubt you'll find much success unless you allow others to help you."

21. And Agent Carter will pretend to have stereotypical goals if it gets her a dope apartment.


When the apartment's gatekeeper asks her how long she plans to keep working, Carter lies, "Only until I'm married, Ms. Fry."

22. Carter puts her own needs and desires over the comfort of men.

When a man scales the side of her building looking for his girlfriend's window and accidentally comes to Carter's, he notes that it would be easier if he could come through her room. Carter doesn't give a shit if it would be easier for him, and she closes the window in his face.

23. When Ms. Fry (Meagan Fay) describes the building as "impenetrable," this is the face Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) makes:

Carter's neighbor and friend Angie is not amused when the landlady kicks out a tenant for being penetrable. WE ARE ALL PENETRABLE, MS. FRY.

26. When Agent Carter is called "honey" by a male colleague, she fires back not by defending herself, but by bringing up his disrespectful treatment of other women.

27. Carter is not afraid to get dirty — as in literally covered in dirt.


You know what she wears when she does this? A fucking practical jumpsuit and fucking practical shoes. Form-fitting clothes be GONE: No one wants to see you here, there is WORK to be done.

28. Jarvis will put himself on the line to protect a woman.


He met his Jewish wife in Budapest during the war and worked outside the system to try to smuggle her out. He faced treason charges because of it. Sometimes the law is unjust, and Jarvis isn't afraid to subvert it to help a woman out. <3

29. Carter doesn't wish ill upon her enemies. In fact, their suffering pains her.


Her murdered colleague was an awful person. But he was a person. She disliked him, but she all she wanted was his respect, not revenge.

30. Although it would be easier to pull away, Carter cultivates female friendships.


Earlier in the third episode, Carter hurts Angie's feelings by seemingly choosing solitude over hanging out with Angie. Carter could have let the friendship fizzle out. But instead, she actively seeks out Angie and compromises to make the relationship work. Women with friends who are also women!!!

33. Carter questions the notion of "virtue" as it relates to women's sexuality.


She doesn't outright challenge her landlady, but she clearly judges her policing of women's bodies.

34. The hypocrisy of sexual "virtue" is really apparent.


If you're so concerned with "defending young women from compulsion," why do you throw them out into the street when you catch them "succumbing," while not punishing the men at all?!

35. Carter doesn't think Stark's promiscuity is cute.


Indeed, Stark, it is disgusting to objectify women to the point where every woman you find attractive appears to you as a collection of orifices!

36. Carter continually uses her lower status — she's taking lunch orders in Episode 4 — to sneak around under the radar.


Because the lady taking lunch orders couldn't possibly have any other ideas on her mind, right?

37. Sousa questions the objectification of disabled people, and also tries to establish solidarity with a homeless man, recognizing that they're both marginalized.


Granted, he has ulterior motives for this solidarity, and saying "We're both people nobody cares about" is a stretch, considering he is employed by the state and he is talking to a vagrant who's been discarded by the state. But anyway, let's all recognize each other's dignity!

38. Women are using their gendered skill set to subvert the system.


"My mom knit a special chicken pocket" is the best thing to happen on this show. Ladies helping ladies steal food! Brava!

39. Thompson asks Carter an offensive question, and she has a sharp answer as usual.


"Why do you work here?" "To uphold democracy." Well played, Carter. Cutting right through the sexism.

40. Thompson says something that, at least in Episode 4, actually turns out to be true.


Well, not the "natural order of the universe" part, but the rest of it. Carter is constantly trying to get the men around her to see her as an equal, and they keep... not. Stark lies to her, Jarvis lies to her, Thompson makes her pick up lunch for the office. It's a goddamn outrage.

41. Carter refuses to let Stark play the "is it that time of the month" card.


He doesn't literally ask her if she's on her period, to be clear, but he does try to convince her that he had to lie to her because she obviously is too upset to handle the truth. "Don't pretend this is about me and my emotions," she says. Too real.

42. Carter calls out Stark on his capitalist man-baby status.


"I think you're a man out for his own gain no matter who you're charging," she tells him after she realizes he let her risk her career for a lie. "Steve Rogers dedicated his mind, his body, his life to the SSR, and to this country, not to your bank account. I made the same pledge, but I'm not as good as Steve was; I forgot my pledge, running around for you like a corporate spy." Considering she's working for the organization that, until recently, was also pretty invested in Stark's profit margin, it seems like maybe she hasn't thought this one through. But still, down with greed, we can all get behind that.

48. Thompson's confession that he's a murderer further underscores the horrors of war.


Thompson killed six Japanese soldiers who were trying to surrender; he buried their white flag so no one would realize it was a sextuple homicide. War is terrible and antifeminist! Did you know that Mother's Day in the U.S. used to be a day when mothers organized for peace and protested the deaths of their children at the hands of a violent state?

49. Peggy is way too pleased to be invited for drinks by her misogynist co-workers.


Isn't this always the way! Now that they see she's "not like other gals," they want to drink a bourbon with her. How about invite her to bourbon BECAUSE SHE IS A PERSON, jerks? Peggy is happy, because we all just want to be recognized as a human, but it's a huge bummer that she had to differentiate herself from the rest of her gender for her co-workers to treat her with common decency. Here's hoping she gets promoted over all of them!

54. Ms. Fry knows that even cops can be dangerous to women.


She tries to stop SSR agents from going upstairs; it's a safety issue, she says. Indeed, studies have shown that cops are two to four times more likely to commit domestic abuse, so Ms. Fry is right on the money here. Never been more pro–Ms. Fry.

55. Angie stands up for her friend even though people in power tell her not to.


The SSR agents are looking for Carter, but Angie trusts her friend over their authority. Just because they have badges doesn't mean they're right!

56. Carter knows that her male co-workers can only see her as a stereotype, not as a person.


According to them, she's an innocent, or a damsel in distress, or a Madonna-turned-whore. Not a complex person, though. Never a person!

57. Carter doesn't give Captain America's blood to Stark in part because she believes he will seek to profit from it.


She doesn't trust a capitalist to do right by her, which is fair. (Example: It is ridiculously hard to be a working mother. Among other things.)

62. We all roll our eyes at patriarchy when Thompson jumps in and takes credit for saving the day.


Because the senator just assumes that a man must have saved the day, and Thompson goes along with it because he is used to being praised just for having a penis.

63. In order to get recognition from her male co-workers, Agent Carter has to be twice as competent as they are.


Sorry you had to jump through all those hoops, agent. You should be able to be as mediocre as the men if you want. For the record, WE ALL SAW YOUR GREATNESS, AGENT.

Marvel's Agent Carter had its finale Feb. 24. Please, send more or help.

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