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The controversy of Scarlett O’Hara: A toxic, white feminist icon or a complex anti-heroine?

Actress Vivien Leigh said of Scarlett O'Hara, the character she played in the 1939 film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind:
“Scarlett fascinated me but she needed a good healthy, old-fashioned spanking on a number of occasions and I should have been delighted to give it to her. But she had courage and determination and that is why women must secretly admire her - even though we can’t feel happy about her too many shortcomings.” Scarlett O’Hara has become synonymous with the self-serving, scheming Southern Belle, inescapably interwoven with the problematic treatment of the Civil War, slavery and white, female protagonists.

While she isn’t exactly a role model, her controversially iconic figure leaves me wondering if she even has a place on the spectrum of modern day feminism? Is her presence more toxic than beneficial to include when we talk about covering every aspect of female representation; the good as well as the bad? Is this ‘secret admiration’ t…

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