A Feminist Tarot: Wheel of Fortune

Luck is, at least to some, a lady.  Thanks to Frank Sinatra, I picture Lady Luck as a pretty woman in a glittering evening gown wandering a glitzy casino.  She’s the woman who has learned to use her physical assets to her advantage, twisting the gender-based power balance to her favor, even if only temporarily.

And in the sense of this card, I think it’s an apt portrayal.  Good fortune doesn’t always come to us because we’ve earned it.  Luck is just that – luck.  Sometimes it comes our way, but it never lasts and it cannot be counted on, only enjoyed for the moment it is here.

The interesting thing to this portrayal, though, is that it also speaks to luck in a deeper way.  Lady Luck is draped in expensive finery and wholly embodies Western standards of beauty.  She transcends many of the cultural limitations placed upon her because she is desired by men and responds appropriately to that desire.

She is the epitome of privilege.

The fact that she is white, thin, and pretty is a matter of luck, as she was either born with the genetic predisposition to desirable physical attributes or the means to access the resources to achieve those results.  Her clothing and grooming cost money most women do not have access to.  She is, if the whole of female existence were to be measured and charted and compared statistically, very lucky.

But that’s the thing about luck.  When we benefit from it, we like to think that it’s because we are deserving.  That’s why we get so upset when people we think are undeserving of good things have good things happen to them.  We want the universe to be just.  We want to believe that people who have lots of good things happen in their lives are good people, and we hate seeing evidence otherwise.  We want to believe that when we have lots of good things happen in our lives, that it means we are good people.  We don’t want to be presented with evidence otherwise.

But luck is just luck.  Some of us were born into beneficial circumstances and some of us were not, and it’s all just luck.  It’s not a measure of virtue.  The real measure of virtue is what we do with what our luck brings us.

And the thing about Lady Luck is that she’s not bestowing the power of her fortune on those less fortunate.  She’s slinking around the casino bringing luck to the high-rollers.  Unconcerned about what goes on outside the glittering world of the casino, her focus is on those who already have the means to play high-stakes games and spend money on her entertainment.

So when Lady Luck smiles on us, who will we choose to smile on in turn?

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