The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I read the first book of the Millennium series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, in two days. Four hundred and forty-six pages in two days, and I read it on my computer. Sorry eyes! Goddamn. During the first fifty to a hundred pages, I couldn’t quite grasp what all the fuss was about. Financial intrigue equals boring in my mind, but once the story had been laid down it was one hell of a ride.
For those of you not familiar with the story, let me just tell you a bit about one of its main characters: Lisbeth Salander. A tiny sprite of a girl with short black hair and several piercings and tattoos. She’s had a hard knocks sort of life and most of the people she encounters describe her a twenty-five year old anorexic who is borderline retarded. Turns out she doesn’t have an eating disorder and she’s smart as a whip.
The Millenium series (although I haven’t read the two sequels yet) features a lot of violence against women. Each part of the first book was prefaced with a statistic on rape and violence against women in Sweden. Lisbeth, the main female protagonist is raped in the first book and although the scene is pretty horrible, I really like how she handles herself afterwards. I’m not saying every rape survivor should turn around and take revenge on her attacker (real life violence just ain’t my thing), but there’s something to be said about a women who takes things into her own hands and doesn’t cast herself in the role of a victim.
Yes, rape is a horrible thing. Yes, abuse is a hard thing to get over. Yes, it all pretty much sucks balls, but you’re not gonna do anyone any favors by staying home and feeding your trauma. The sex-positive website for teens, Scarleteen, has a great point when they say that “the opposite of rape is not sex, but no rape”. Think about that for a second. Personally, I think the fact that Lisbeth’s character engages in consensual sexual activity after having been raped without associating sex with her previous trauma is a clear example of what “the opposite of rape is not sex, but no rape” means.
Another thing about the book that really struck me is the representation of the “other”. Lisbeth is portrayed as someone who is alienated by society. To some degree she casts herself in that role, with good reason, but ultimately EVERYONE judges her character based on her physicality and no one gives her the respect that she deserves, which is to say the basic respect that everyone deserves.
It got me thinking about the mistrust that some people show to those who stand outside of the norm. I wondered if people who are fundamentaly against a group of people for x reason aren’t simply filled with contempt because they themselves have tried to fit in by pouring themselves into the mould society has prescribed for them. The logic being that they have sacrificed x and y and thus deserves a better standing in society than people who simply act as themselves. It’s as if the sacrifices they have made to fit in have filled them with resentment fueled by their own belief of self-entitlement due to the fact that they follow the rules. They have made the sacrifices and the “other” has not, so they should be the ones to reap the rewards and everyone else should be cast out. Does that makes sense, I think it does, what are your thoughts?