On The Ledge: With Denise Mina--The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

On The Ledge: With Denise Mina--The Girl With The Dragon...

By Pamela Mullin Horvath Monday, November 19th, 2012


Steig Larsson and I are lifelong feminists. Stop cheering, honestly, there’s no need.  Yeah, so not quite the reaction from most of you. In fact, most of readers won’t have made it this far into the column. For a broad readership, feminism isn’t a vanilla vote-getter. It’s not like being for freedom or against poverty or in favor of animal sanctuaries.

            Feminism, in most people’s minds, carries with it implications of reproach. Most people don’t know what feminism is, but they’re pretty sure they’re on the wrong side of it. You’re not. End of.

            Feminism means accepting that gender is a continuum, not a binary. Gender roles don’t really look like this:

Proper men   ----    void   ----   Proper women

They actually look like this:

Machoman – cage fighter – sportsman – normal person – Gender Neutral – normal person – prone to knitting – sighs at flowers - Sobbing Starlet looking for a powerful husband.

Everyone is somewhere along the line from female to male. Plot your position, let other people be who they are, and get on with it. Men are from Mars, but so are women.

            The fallout from that premise is that we all have an equal right to legal protection, to work and be independent, to not have our faces kicked in while we’re cooking the dinner.

Larsson was a self-declared feminist. If you think being a female feminist leaves you open to ridicule, try being a guy. That would put him at the “machoman” end of the gender spectrum, although possibly momentarily.

The Millennium Trilogy is a dangerous piece of feminist propaganda wrapped up in a populist narrative. His first novel was called “Men Who Hate Women” in Swedish. Every section of “Men Who Hate Women” has a frontispage with a startling statistic about sexual violence in Sweden. He has (spoiler alert) a woman save a man who is about to be sexually violated.

But, somehow, that provocative, lay-out-your-stall title was thought not to quite work in English. Not snappy enough.  The title became “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”The frontispages were kept in the book but didn’t make it into the movies, not cinematic enough. Also, in the movies, Salander seems to live with a makeup artist. As an ex-goth myself I can tell you, it doesn’t look like that if you put on your own makeup in a dark flat. It might look okay in the dark flat, but when you go out into daylight it looks as if you put your head into the makeup bag and shook it. So these comics are an act of love, an attempt to bring it back to the hardcore story Larsson wrote. Steig, pal, a warm hand to your back, wherever you are.

--Denise Mina