As a woman, I have a love-hate relationship with feminism.

Yes, I am all for equality among men and women and I would like to do whatever I want without criticism. However, I feel that I don’t fully understand feminism because I don’t have a feminist icon to look up to.

Lately, female celebrities have been coming forward declaring that they’re feminists. Other feminists write that we need to look up to them. However, what could be considered feminism to one celebrity comes off as more vulgar than empowering to me. Sometimes, I just don’t understand how it’s feminism. I can’t relate to these women. If this is my opinion, then how can I consider myself a feminist?

When I’m not dealing with my personal feminist debate, I watch TV. One show that I’ve been looking forward to for months is Marvel’s “Agent Carter” because I’m a huge Marvel geek. The show is a spinoff series of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Hayley Atwell reprising her role as Agent Peggy Carter from the “Captain America” movies. The show focuses on her life as a secret agent two years after World War II and the events of the first “Captain America.” Throughout the series, Carter struggles as a female in a male-dominated workplace.

While the show did seem like one I would enjoy, little did I know it was going to become much more. Within 15 minutes of watching and seeing Carter, the only female, walk down a street through a group of men, something hit me. I quickly grabbed my phone to text a friend, who was also watching. “She is what feminists should strive to be,” I typed quickly. In that moment, I finally had my feminist awakening. Carter was the feminist icon I was looking for.

Carter is a strong, independent woman. She believes in herself and doesn’t need a man to be there for her. When a male character tells her she’s lucky to be alive because of him, she quickly retorts, “Oh you’re so right. How I managed to stay alive before I met you, I have no idea.” She’s constantly called “darling” or “honey” in the office and sass is her best weapon. She never lets men put her down just because she’s a woman.

At first glance, Carter is believed to be a secretary, but lets men know perfectly well that she is more than that. She is an agent and she stays true to herself, proud of being a working woman.

While she sticks to this, she still exhibits respect to the opposite sex. When a male co-worker is killed, Carter takes a moment to mourn him. Even though he disrespected her in the past, he was still a person. She looks at him as an equal.

Agent Carter is what I believe feminism is to women: to stay true to yourself, be independent, strive for equality and stand up for yourself. She treats everyone with respect no matter the gender. She constantly works hard and does everything she can to be the best version of herself. She doesn’t try to do anything outrageous and slap the word feminism on it. She is simply herself. She breaks the stereotypes of women in a more tasteful, relatable way.

Feminists need to keep a close eye on Carter and use her as an example. Though she’s nothing more than a fictional character, Peggy Carter is the new feminist icon we should be looking up to.

Hayley Moore is a junior history and writing, rhetoric and technical communication double major. Contact Hayley at moorehe@dukes.jmu.edu.