Warning: Spoilers ahead for season 5 of House of Cards.
Since Congress is clearly unable to curb the rampant power abuses of the Underwood administration, we here at Refinery29 have taken it upon ourselves to serve as the whistleblowers of this administration.
Now, it's time to blow the whistle on Claire Underwood (Robin Wright); more specifically, on her footwear. Over the last five seasons, Mrs. Underwood has established herself as a lady of style. Her minimalist wardrobe is literally the reason I still watch this show. (I've never forgiven the writers for killing off Corey Stoll, aka Balding Bae.) But there's a line between looking good and looking foolish, and Claire Underwood has crossed it.
Take episode 7, in which a newly sworn-in Acting President Claire Underwood (if this plot twist confuses you, I suggest you stop here and go catch up on the new season) is whisked off into the bunker below the White House because of an impending terror threat.
Clad in a belted olive-green dress and black pumps, President Underwood is rushed out of the Oval Office in the middle of a meeting. Apparently, a truck carrying radioactive material has gone missing, and fake-ISIS (sorry, IKO) is the prime suspect. So far, so normal. But what had me succumb to a fit of giggles was the sight of Claire skittering down the shiny hallway in 4-inch stilettos. To make matters worse, they make this poor woman go down a rickety emergency staircase, each step threatening to do more damage to Claire's ankles than IKO could ever dream of.
This is not at all to say that powerful women can't wear heels, or be stylish — I mean, look at Amal Clooney. And you know what they say about Ginger Rogers: that she did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards, and in heels.
But in a real, serious emergency, wouldn't Claire Underwood just take off her shoes in order to flee to safety? Would she really be teetering between two Secret Service agents as her knees go one way, and her feet another? With each step, I found myself wincing as her ankles perilously vacillated, surely in the kind of pain women the world over have experienced when walking home after a night out. (And the sweet relief of taking them off and putting your bare foot on the ground again! The twinge of pain, followed by sheer bliss as your toes spread out to their natural shape and your arch touches the floor again.)
Let's take a look, shall we?
Here is Acting President Claire Underwood, meeting with her subordinates in the Oval Office. I bet she's really excited to put her feet up on that couch.
But no! There's an emergency — couch time is over. Now, here is Claire, holding onto the railing for dear life.
Final stretch, Claire! You're almost there — hang on!
Oh, and in case you forgot, these are her heels.
The fact that she never once pauses to take the sensible approach doesn't surprise me at all. Because if you'll notice, she is being flanked by two men, who (like the mostly male writers of this series) probably never once stopped to think that the woman in between them might be in intense physical pain. That she could, at any moment, literally break her leg. And she, conditioned by a lifetime of rhetoric that women must prove themselves equally as tough as men to hold office, probably doesn't want to give them a chance to doubt her.
Claire isn't the only woman the writers have put in this cruel predicament. Secretary of State Cathy Durant (Jayne Atkinson), and Deputy Secretary Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson) are also rushed along in their punishing footwear. And after all that, they still all have to wait for Francis to arrive before closing the door. Eventually he strolls in, feet comfortably ensconced in his flat brogues. Must be nice.