I just came across this piece in the The Atlantic entitled "Feminism, Depravity and Power in House of Cards" that I think gives a very nuanced view of the reasons why labeling Claire Underwood a feminist after the season two release of House of Cards might be a contentious pronouncement. I have to say, I really like it. It manages to articulate the nuances of the conflicting things I feel about Claire's character in a very good way, and it makes some great points that hadn't even occurred to me as I was parsing the issue on my own. One of the quotes that really stuck out to me was this one:
Several observers go even farther, arguing that Claire isn't a feminist so much as a right-wing caricature of a feminist: a ruthless, calculating, power-hungry career woman who stabs other women in the back and uses abortion as birth control. Cognizant of the way that she uses the sexual-assault bill to raise her political profile, only to abandon it when doing so is useful political leverage, Mollie Hemingway writes that "it's sort of like House of Cards is running the Democratic playbook's 'War on Women' as a major storyline," except without the mainstream-media filter, "we get to see how calculated and manipulative it really is."
Emphasis mine. Now this hadn't really occurred to be in the course of thinking through this, but I actually think this might be a pretty accurate assessment. The basic tenets of feminism are there; she's pro-choice, against sexual assault, a rape survivor who is able to get respite from her rapist, she champions a bill to combat sexual assault in the military. And yet, the way she treats the other women in the show, as the piece notes, is also quite illuminating. As the author notes:
"Women need Claire as a feminist ally like a fish needs a wood-chopper."