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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Girl Who....a RevGals Monday Book Review and Discussion

Preparing to fly back from a trip to Seattle last December I bought, on a whim, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. For one reason or another I have missed the popularity phenomenon that has grown around the book and movie. As a result I was completely unprepared for this series, and how much I enjoy reading the books.

For those who have not read the series (and I haven't read the final one, yet) the books deal with a young woman named Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker and research expert, who is hired by Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist, to help him solve a twenty year old crime case. As the case unfolds the hidden nature of violence against women and girls becomes evident. The book reveals many levels to the issue of domestic violence and the tragedy of sex trafficking of young girls. While the series describes this issue as it plays out in Swedish culture the reality is that this kind of violence is rampant around the world, in every nation and culture.

The fact that I have also recently attended workshops on Domestic Violence, where I learned much about the nature of abuse and violence against women and children (and even that occassionally men are the victims and women the perpetrators) seems to be more than a coincidence. Add to this my recent trip to New York City where I attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the NGO parallel events that also highlighted the incidious and rampant nature of violence against women and children, and I find there is a theme to my learning these days. A theme that informs how I read this series and how "well" it portrays the problem of systems of abuse.

What I like about the series is the degree to which the author portrays Salander, and some other women, as victim/survivors who go on to seek justice, even if that justice occasionally defies the law. I mean, I like that the author fills the book with strong women who fight back, which is far more realistic than the notion of helpless women victims. I also appreciate the role of the men who are compassionate and caring and who are not only unafraid of the strong women, they seek them out as friends and companions. These are books that portray some very realistic human characters and the strengths they bring to overcoming suffering and oppression.

I encourage everyone who reads these books to become more knowledgeable about violence against women and children, and then to actively work to eliminate that violence, holding accountable the perpetrators.

Lastly, I learned over the course of this week at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women that justice systems are impacting, negatively, women who are subjected to sexual violence, by speaking primarily of the crime as "domestic" and women as "victims" while failing to speak directly and specifically of the perpetrators as criminals. In other words the perpetrators are not being held accountable even in the language used describe the crime.

Please share with us what you think about the series, and or the movies. And, if you are so inclined, share with us your thoughts on the issues of violence against humanity, especially women and children.


  1. I was enthralled by this book - it's great, can't-put-it-down reading - but I would add a strong warning to any recommendation about the amount of violence in the book. As much as I enjoyed a story that I couldn't let go, I haven't yet read the two other books because of the extreme violence. Consider yourself warned!

  2. The violence is intense...but it's portrays what is really happening to women and girls - it's not a story about violence for the sake of violence. And it portrays some great human characters working with integrity to combat the violence.

    I have now finished the second book and have started the third. Like you, I can't put them down.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. I recently read another book that deals with this same subject. It is about a 10 year old girl who was forced to marry a much older man who then rapes and beats her daily until she escapes to the courthouse and demands a divorce. It is a nonfiction children's book so while the topic of sexual abuse of girls it is written by and for younger children to read so the treatment is ALOT less graphic.

  4. i'd highly recommend
    a look into sweet notions a mission and social enterprise ministry that has done amazing work bringing the 'Truth ISN'T sexy' to the attn of both uk and us govs on behalf of women and girls ...our involvement is definitely within reach!!

  5. The violence is intense but unfortunately, not unbelievable. I have read all three books and have watched the Swedish films as well. (They are all available on Netflix.) Noomi Rapace's portrayal of Lisbeth is incredible and thought provoking.


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