The following is a response I wrote to Karen Swallow Prior’s piece titled “Why ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Is Hurting Woman“. It is not an exhaustive review of the books (which I have read) or the American version of the movie (which I have not seen). Please read her original article to gain context in my post. If you respond to this post, please do so respectfully and please distinguish between commenting on the books or movies (either Swedish or American versions).
After reading your article I’m confused. In the same sentence you disclaim “This isn’t a film review and…I offer analysis based only on the film.” From that, I can’t really discern what you’re driving at so I’ll try to figure it in this response.
Character study has rightly informed the way we see ourselves for as long as characters have been created. It’s part of the beauty of literature, film and all media. In your case, being introduced to a character through a Facebook status is a rather recent phenomenon however. Facebook and Twitter have afforded us the privilege to form quick uninformed opinions about things for which we previously were forced to seriously chew on and investigate. This is true in your owns words, “My immediate reaction, though I knew nothing at that point about the book or the character, was ‘uh oh’”.
My main critique of your article isn’t whether Lisbeth Salander should or shouldn’t be regarded as a heroine. For the rest of the world that doesn’t read first-world evangelical posts like these, Lisbeth Salander is and will be regarded as a hero for better or for worse and in some cases should be. While your (and mine) hero, the one “placed upon…a mere plank and crossbeam” is the greatest character study of all, his story has yet to be discovered by many a victim of sexual injustice and Salander will have to suffice for standing up against said injustice.
Don’t take me wrong, I’m not nihilistic or cynical enough to say if Stieg Larsson is all you’ve got, that’s all you’ll get. However, I’m realistic enough to know that my definition of sexual injustice or my fight against gender prejudice can’t be informed by someone’s facebook status, clothing line or even David Fincher‘s Hollwood star-crossed vision of Larsson’s book.
You say that Lisbeth Salander is hurting women yet you don’t provide any statistical or even anecdotal evidence of such. Your credibility to make such claims stems from “watch[ing] [a] friend undergo self-injury, sexual victimization, sexual deviancy, drug addiction, institutionalization, and the occasional come-to-Jesus moment”? I hate to break it to you but I have those friends too. They are guys, fully masculine and fully devoted to a spiritual struggle that extends well past the publication of a swedish mystery novel.
Going back to my initial confusion at what you were driving at with this article…are you trying to rescue women from stereotypical chains that Hollywood places on them? If so, I would contend that you are using this platform to perpetuate chains that are placed on men as well. You write, “She has the smarts and independence men increasingly expect in a post-feminist world, makes a great work partner, stitches up a bullet hole with vodka and dental floss, rides a motorcycle, initiates sex (and does girls, too), makes breakfast the morning after, brings herself to orgasm while her partner lies back and thinks about work—all the while staying (largely) emotionally unattached. She’s essentially a breasted boy.”
So…that means all boys are just great work partners, stitch bullet holes with vodka and dental floss, ride motorcycles and initiate sex? All boys bring ourselves to orgasm while staying emotionally unattached? Karen, are you married, do you have a boyfriend or have a son? Do you assign these stereotypical cliche’s to them as well? Hopefully, the other men who are reading this post and sincerely following Christ the best way they know how won’t be offended by the same unjust prejudices that you herein propagate. I’ll clue you in…not all men get off on these movies, their imagery and feel the need to beat their chest when movies like these are made.
I get it. You went and watched a movie that has some seriously disturbing themes and you had an emotional response. Did you apply the same Facebook-litmus test to last years sordid tale of female sexual deviancy, Black Swan? Darn it, Hollywood why do you continue to define my view of all women as sexually repressed, catty, snobby, closet-ballerinas, jealous with low self-esteem. Geez, those male directors and their need to compensate.
Well, hats off to the Stiegster for accomplishing his goals: awareness of sexual deviancy, injustice and *gasp* swedish culture. It’s too bad he’s not around to chat with Darren Arrenovsky or the execs at MGM and Columbia. All we have of Larsson are three books from which to derive a character that should and will be studied, admired and hated. The joy of film is that it can be watched but the lasting beauty of literature is that it can be read, again and again. From the pages of books we continue to peel back the “layers of our own facade”. I’m so glad the Lord reveals our facade’s in more than one Book.