My Thanks, Nancy Drew

Nursing Clio just published another in their ongoing series Sunday Morning Medicine. I can always find articles on topics of interest in this weekly rundown that they so conveniently compile, and it’s not all medically related by the way.

A specific headline caught my eye this morning

Celebrating 85 years of Nancy Drew

I loved Nancy Drew mystery books as a young girl. I believe in fact that in my imagination I often was Nancy Drew. The teen sleuth who used her wits to solve mysteries, although she may be muddled somewhat in my mind with the original Velma from Scooby Doo cartoon fame.

The article (on a very busy and distracting page – sorry) is using Nancy Drew to highlight a commonality among the smart, savvy teen hero set: agency. Both then (1930’s) when Nancy was first introduced, all the way into today’s females of YA literature and movies, these figures make it known that girls can and do rule without being dependent on a male counterpart to direct, encourage, or save them in their work against bad guys and society.

Honestly, when I was reading Nancy Drew titles such as “The Secret of the Old Clock,” or “The Witch Tree Symbol,” or any of the other spellbinding books that led me on adventures with Nancy, I wasn’t thinking about agency. I didn’t even know what the word meant in the context that a feminist would use it.

Nancy simply let me escape from my world and while I got to explore, and play detective, and solve crimes right along with her perhaps she was teaching me a lesson as well. I know that reading these mysteries gave me the confidence to write my very first short story. It was a mystery of course, with a female protagonist who used her smarts to solve some crazy dilemma in a haunted house. I still remember presenting it to my 6th grade teacher and feeling very important and rather academically above my peers when he returned it with both high praise and wonderful red pen notations in the margins.

Life happened though, and decisions and choices eventually got in the way of that first contact with the idea of agency. Now I can look back and not only remember the joy I had in reading those books, but add my thanks to Nancy Drew for quietly and steadfastly reminding me that you don’t need a man to define you.


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