The misconceptions, assumptions and sheer ignorance of her abilities as a spy have forced Peggy to articulate her issues with the Patriarchy, which may be exactly what is necessary for her team to move forward in the fight to eliminate Leviathan as a security threat. There is great power in words–Dr. Ivchenko uses language to manipulate SSR agents, The Howling Commandoes voice respect for Peggy, which shifts Thompson’s preception of her and then Thompson speaks his secret of killing surrendering soldiers in order to break that secret’s hold over him. Words contain power and Peggy has decided to voice the truths about her treatment–at the SSR and within 1940s culture in general–in order to regain control of her own identity and remain on her heroic path.
spoilers ahead, sweetie...
Challenging Patriarchal Norms or “Situation Normal, All Fucked Up” (SNAFU)
Throughout her time at the SSR, Peggy’s coworkers have used her gender as a jumping off point for slurs, excuses, conversation enders, and assumptions, while Peggy has quietly endured for “the greater good”. Howard Stark has used her and lied to “protect” her, while Jarvis reinforced the idea that the men in her life will never take her seriously, and expects Peggy to use their misconceptions to her advantage. What Peggy wants, all she has ever wanted, is to be judged because of her merit and not because of her gender. We must remember, Peggy lives in 1940s society post WWII and feminism exists in its first wave. While suffrage has granted white females the vote, the women who worked outside the home during the war are being forced to give up their jobs to returning veterans because sexism and gender bias permeated society. Peggy, who is a legitimate war hero, who fought with the Howling Commandos and Captain Friggen America, is tired of being second guessed because of her sex. During the interrogation by Thompson and Sousa, she decides to break social protocol and begins to clearly delineate the reasons she covertly began searching for Stark’s weapons. Let’s look at some of these quotes from Peggy to Sousa, Jarvis, Thompson and Dooley.
“To you, I’m a stray kitten left on your doorstep to be protected. The secretary turned damsel in distress. The girl on the pedestal, transformed into some daft whore.”
“And I suppose the confession portrays me as what? A patsy? A doe-eyed idiot succumbed to the charms of America’s mustachioed Casanova?”
“I conducted my own investigation because no one listens to me. I got away with it because no one looks at me. Because unless I have your reports, your coffee, or your lunch, I am invisible.”
Peggy is sick of your shit, Patriarchy, and the completion of her heroic journey rests on the fact that she is not afraid to break societal norms and speak these truths into existence. For Peggy, the situation is, indeed fucked, but it is normal and she is brave enough to call people on their assumptions. By honestly evaluating the men in her life, from Stark to Jarvis, Sousa, Thompson and Dooley, Peggy has reclaimed the power they had over their words, their assumptions and her.
Reclaiming Linguistic Power
According to Sara Mills, Peggy Carter uses “interactive power… [drawing] on linguistic resources which [are] available within that particular context, using questions and rebuttals to challenge her characterisation” and, consequently, shift the perceptions held about her by her coworkers. Peggy has so much faith in her mission and herself, that she is willing to challenge societal norms in order to continue on her heroic journey. From the beginning, Peggy’s worth has been questioned, but, by honestly evaluating the performance of her peers, she forces them to reexamine their version of the truth. Ultimately, her rebellion is deemed necessary and and her value Peggy at the SSR, recognized. It is no secret that Peggy has consistently remained a step ahead of the boys at the SSR. She also refused to be Stark’s mindless muscle or to pity her gendered place in society as Jarvis would have had her do. Instead, Peggy Carter embraces her femaleness, regardless of the consequences and her rebellion against the patriarchy is justified and righteous.
Peggy and the MCU
With Dooley’s mind control and death at the hands of Dr. Ivchenko, the boys at the SSR have decided to work alongside Peggy and use her knowledge and ability to defeat Dottie and Leviathan. Most of the evidence points to Howard Stark getting manipulated by a female spy and so, it looks like he may soon return to help Peggy, Jarvis and the SSR recover the stolen weapons. To help earn the trust of her fellow SSR agents, Peggy revealed that the Blitzrieg Button actually contained the last of supersoldier Steve Rogers’ blood. This means, the agency has it in their labs and can do god-knows-what with it in the future.
The season finale is tomorrow! We want to make sure this show gets renewed for a second season, so tune in and live tweet #AgentCarter with me @nerdwrldprblms Tuesday at 8pm, West Coast time.
Agent Carter is on ABC, Tuesdays at 8pm.