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Abstract

In the detective fiction genre, Nancy Drew is one of its most iconic sleuths, and is so cleverly named the “girl detective.” Originally created in 1930, Nancy Drew serves as an inspirational figure for young girls and women across generations, as her intelligence and resourcefulness allowed her to challenge traditional gender roles for women as well as solve complicated mysteries. With the rise of the women’s rights movement and in the 1960s, many aspired to attain Nancy Drew’s independence and subvert the patriarchy, breaking the glass ceiling that held them down in the role of the submissive housewife. The second wave feminist perspective, however, was that all women experience sexism in the same ways, falsely equating the middle-class white women’s experience to that of minorities and the working class. Despite being labeled a feminist icon, role model, and having the series adapted into comic books, movies, and television shows, the original Nancy Drew exhibits character flaws that make her controversial. “Nancy Drew: A Feminist Icon or a Problematic Figure of the Patriarchy and White Privilege” critiques why Nancy Drew is considered a feminist, and examines how unacknowledged elements of racism, classism, and traditional notions of femininity are problematic and prevent her from being a fully feminist character. This type of character analysis focusing on diversity is key to the ongoing discussion on campus and abroad about inclusion and gender in literature, media, and television.

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