In Defense of Claire Underwood

by Kristin Holloway
Opinions Editor

WARNING: This article contains spoilers. Turn away now if you don’t want to find out what happens in season three of House of Cards.
By now, most fans have seen House of Cards’ third season and watched President Francis J. Underwood’s wife Claire leave him in the season finale. Despite her fictional status, many are outraged that she refused to maintain her “stand by your man” act during their latest rough patch—but in her defense, hasn’t she had enough? She’s spent half of her life playing second fiddle to her scheming husband, sacrificing her career, motherhood opportunity or whatever else he needed her to do in order for him to get ahead. At what point is it okay for a woman to leave her controlling and undermining husband?

While, there’s no doubt from her cold, calculated actions and demeanor that Claire is a strong woman, there’s still only so much a person can take. She stood silently as her husband paraded his affair with young news reporter Zoe Barnes in front of her in season one. In season two, in order for Frank to succeed as president, Claire willingly convinced the sitting first lady into the marital counseling that cost her husband his position as president. Even during season three, Claire was willing to forgive all of Frank’s transgressions and continue on as his better half if only he’d trust her to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but after one (pretty much inevitable on her part) mistake, he snatched the position away from her and forced her to continue acting out her unstimulating duties as first lady.

While Claire’s timing for leaving her husband was anything but impeccable, the action itself really isn’t all that surprising. Frank has never viewed her as his equal, despite her numerous attempts to be viewed as such . Claire is a brilliant woman and, unsurprisingly, wants to hone her talents, but unfortunately Frank only trusts her to do his bidding rather than backing her up on her own endeavors. Like everything else in his life, Claire is a tool meant to be used for furthering his political gains, which is why he invites her to come along with him on the campaign trail and pose for pictures alongside him, but can’t look at her during sex. That isn’t a balanced or healthy relationship and honestly, it’s a wonder she stayed as long as she did.