Homeland depicts Carrie as the Anti-Woman
In a way, Carrie is the anti-woman, the id inside all of the women who hate participating in passive aggressive female nomenclature.
Watching Homeland is a uniquely satisfying experience for me. I am obsessed with everything Carrie Mathison (played by the fierce Claire Danes) does. From the way she haphazardly throws her kid's lunch together, to how she nonchalantly tucks her hair behind her ears before entering a deserted warehouse likely filled with killers and rapists. I could watch this character make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I love her, without condoning her. Does that make sense?
I don't tend to gravitate towards shows or films where it would be 100% unrealistic for me to emulate. I am not great at suspending reality, and usually avoid all sci-fi/superhero/action shows ect…I tend towards dramas and comedies, as I can always picture myself as a teacher, a lawyer, a professor, ect…but I could never picture myself as a CIA agent, using my actual physical body to beat-up criminals, running for my life, surviving POW experiences. No way. I am a petite Jewish gal with a propensity for long hot showers and my idea of adventure is leaving home without my phone charger. So why do I love this Mathison character so much?
In a way, Carrie is the anti-woman, the id inside all of the women who hate participating in passive aggressive female nomenclature. You know, the part of the woman (self included) who offers to help another woman with (insert any stereotypical female-driven event) when in reality she is at her brink, nearing domestic suicide. I have never seen this character plan (or attend for that matter) a baby shower, sit in on a PTA meeting, orchestrate the logistics of a family holiday, or even host a play date. While I haven't forgotten that she almost killed her baby several seasons back, and I recognize she almost dies in every episode, taking unbelievable risks fighting terrorism both domestic and abroad… I still find it unusual how much I love watching this character that on the surface, and perhaps even below it, I have nothing in common with.
I think I love this Carrie character so much simply because Carrie refuses to "do woman," the way society expects her, or any woman to do it. Women obviously have come along way, but there are still some basic ideals that no matter what, and no matter how liberal of a bubble you try and hide in, society does not allow for. The main one being, don't F*&% with Motherhood…with a capital M. Motherhood is unanimously agreed upon as being sacred. Fatherhood is not sacred. Fatherhood is valued, important, admired…but it is not sacred.
Being a fabulous father can mean paying child-support, being around on holidays and weekends, and not forgetting a birthday. And to be fare, even if you are tending to the vast emotional, physical, educational, social, and million other unique needs of a small child, if you are not financially providing for your child, society sees you as a week man, not-quite-cutting-it, and missing the mark on your man-hood responsibilities. Why? Because your role is not seen as sacred, it's seen as something to be performed. Now, if a mother decides to drop the ball on pretty much everything except financial security, she is seen as an evil Satin, narcissistic-workaholic who clearly doesn't love her children. I guess I love this character so much because there are some days, some moments, some milli-seconds that I don't want to be sacred! It's too much.
I know I know, she has bi-polar disorder, the plot is unrealistic, she is actually likely and technically un-fit to be a mother. I am not arguing or defending her abilities. I am just relishing, indulging in a momentary fascination, and realization that it is her refusal to accept her role as "sacred mother', that is momentarily inspirational for people like me, who feel guilty when we leave our kids with a responsible childcare provider for even a hot minute.
One last Carrie obsession. So many of Carrie's relationships on this show are with men (much like most high profile professional women). This means, most of her communication is concise, to the point, and filled with specific directions or demands. If someone is expressing an emotion to her, it's usually either a pat on the back (gratitude), or rage and anger due to her immense domestic or oversees F*&^ Up. What she doesn't face a lot of, is passive aggressive situations, social niceties, and hidden requests.
Obviously I do not want to be screamed at by the president of the United States or tortured and held at gunpoint… but guess what I also don't want?. To spend 30 minutes trying to discern if you DO or DO NOT want a 30th birthday party. If you are mad at me, just tell me, and get over it. If I am mad at you, let me tell you how you pissed me off, and I will get over it. If you wished I would support you in a specific way, tell me, and also don't deem me as the most selfish woman alive when I say 'no thanks, that doesn't appeal to me'. In fact, just assume I am in the CIA and have other extremely important duties, and your window to communicate with me is short.
Yes this CIA character analogy is TOTALLY far fetched. But wasn't it fun!? What if all women decided to be HUGE DISAPPOINTMENTs to each other… even just for a day or two. Go ahead, just pretend you have an EXTREMELY high profile job (you totally might) with the CIA and you can't make it to (insert any and every domestic-social expectation). You will still be seen as a HUGE DISAPOINTMENT… but people will say something like, 'she was a smart one…. likely too smart for her own good' and secretly admire your courage to disappoint!
Keeping the Real's Reel
By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, and a BA in Communication & Culture, and works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding in her laundry room from her two children. More about her on her website.
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