Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘body image

I have recently started reading the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson.  I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo probably about a week and a half ago now and became absolutely enthralled by it.  And now I’ve finished the second in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire.  I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  I was really impressed with the second book of this series…for a number of reasons.

Warning: minor spoilers for the first two books of the series (and please don’t leave spoilers for the third in the comments).  I will not reveal any of the major revelations of the books, but I will discuss some of the aspects of the plot and character development.

When I first started The Girl Who Played With Fire I wasn’t sure how I felt about the character developments of Lisbeth Salander, the female protagonist (I don’t know if ‘protagonist’ is the right word for Salander).  In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Salander came across as this incredibly brilliant, yet socially awkward woman, who didn’t take crap from anyone.  At the beginning of Fire, we learn that Salander used a (small) portion of the money that she obtained in Dragon Tattoo to get a boob job.  She spends the first 100 (or more, can’t remember) pages or so being self-conscious about not only her new breasts but her small body as well.  I don’t know if this was some sort of development to make her more relate-able because, yes, everyone has body image issues.  But all I saw was Salander going from this kick-ass woman to this whiny girl.  I didn’t really care for it.  Once we got past that part of the book, the “old” Salander seemed to come back with all her computer hacking and investigative glory.  As she is described at some points throughout the book, Salander is a woman who hates men who hate women (a play on the Swedish title of Dragon TattooThe Men Who Hate Women).

While it did take a while a long while for the murders of this murder mystery to happen (about 200 pages or so), which we knew were going to happen based on reading the back of the book, I did find the lead up to the murders interesting (even though I was frustrated that they hadn’t happened yet — is it a bad sign when you are asking yourself when murders are finally going to happen, even if it is in a book?).  The lead up to the murders dealt a lot with an expose of the sex trafficking industry in Sweden.  I thought it was a very interesting approach in that it’s something that most people generally don’t want to think about (on a whole, even though it’s a really important issue).  And I liked that they did focus on the victims of the sex trafficking industry, but they also looked at the financials of it and what pimps and johns gained from it.

I also thought that Fire provided an interesting look at mental illness.  Salander was in and out of mental institutions in her teens and was uncooperative with authorities, so she had numerous reports of something being “wrong” with her, that she was unstable, and that she was a psychopath with violent tendencies (which, yes, she does tend to have violent tendencies, but only when provoked).  During the police investigation into Salander, all they had access to were these reports, so they drew a picture of her being this crazy killer woman.  It didn’t help that she didn’t have that many friends.  But all of the people that they interviewed about her gave a completely different account of what she was actually like.  Despite the interviews from her friends, the police were insistent for a good part that Salander was responsible for the murders because she has a history of mental illness and violence.

It was interesting to see this story line play out.  As an audience, we have know that Salander had been in a mental hospital and that she was declared incompetent.  But we also saw her as being able to handle herself, as a genius, albeit, socially awkward.  We were just meant to believe that Salander had fallen to some bad situations that ended with her being in a mental institution (which doesn’t necessarily mean she has a mental illness — but there is talk in this book about the possibility of her having Asperger’s, but she has never been officially diagnosed).  But in Fire, we see the character of Salander that we have grown accustomed to challenged by her medical reports and the police being insistent that there is something “wrong” with her.  It also says a lot about the difference between reading reports of people (which are made through other people’s perceptions and biases — which plays a large role in Salander’s case) and actually getting to know the person, whether talking to them yourself or talking to the people that know her well (in the case of the book).

Overall, I thought that this was a great book.  I can’t decide if I liked Fire better or Dragon Tattoo, because they have significantly different story lines despite having the same characters.  In Fire, Salander and Blomkvist (the main characters) are never together except for the last page, so you don’t get too much of the interaction between them that you got in the first.  And the investigations in each book are significantly different in nature — both murder investigations, but under completely different circumstances.

I will make a note at the end here though, that there are some major trigger warnings for both books.  There are graphic descriptions of rape, violent scenes, domestic violence, and sex trafficking throughout both books.  I thought that Dragon Tattoo was a little more graphic in its descriptions, but there are still some major trigger warnings for Fire.

That being said, I would highly recommend this trilogy to anyone, just be aware of these trigger warnings as I was not when I first started reading Dragon Tattoo.


As some of you may have noticed, I had a little problem this weekend.  My blog was hacked and I couldn’t even get into my dashboard.  But thanks to the amazing meloukhia, my blog is back and almost entirely squared away.  I still have to work on the sidebars a little bit and address some minor things here and there.  But all in all, I’m back.

And I know I didn’t get to do a Wednesday link love this week as I was busy on Wednesday in addition to not feeling too well.  So here’s an extra long link love for the entire week!

Zero at the Bone: The Thirteenth Carnival of Feminists

Equality 101: Thoughts on the “Politics of Correction”

“How can I help kids gain fluency in Standard English – the language of power – without obliterating the home language which is a source of pride and personal voice?” – Linda Christensen

Gender Across Borders: Welcome to the Hip Hop, Resistance, and Feminism Series

This series focuses on hip hop and its interactions with patriarchy, racism, and other forms of oppression — both within and outside the mainstream pop world. From Nicki Minaj and gender-bending to resistance movements in Mali, this series reveals the varying faces and voices of hip hop.

I’ve really enjoyed this series from Gender Across Borders and this “welcome” post has links to all of the posts in the series, so make sure to check them all out!

Girl W/Pen: POP GOES FEMINISM: Deciphering Island Patriarchy: Finding Feminism in Lost

Lost has often presented ‘gender outside the box’ characters, suggesting being human is more important than being a masculine man or a feminine woman. After all, when you are fighting for your life, ‘doing gender right’ is hardly at the top of you priority list.

Small Strokes: On Body Image: Men and Advertising

Men suffer from body image issues just as women do, often as a direct result of the bombardment of images from the media. You’ve got your total binary here: men in commercials, movies, and TV shows are either super awesome ladies’ men with washboard abs and sweet sports cars or doofy husbands incapable of doing much of anything.

Sorry I have been slacking on link love this week.  It’s been pretty hectic around here trying to work, go to class, and clean the house to make it presentable for showings.  But here are some of my favorite posts from the week…

this ain’t livin’: The Plus Size Sensation That’s Sweeping the Nation! (Or, you know. Not.)

There’s a little something going on in the world of fashion: Fat people are starting to be allowed to exist there. Only, it’s a little bit more complicated than that, because it’s “plus size,” not “fat,” and it’s only very special sorts of plus size people. It’s plus size models, specifically, and, like models of all sizes, they are what is sometimes called “impossibly beautiful.”

Zero at the Bone: The importance of women’s friendships

In my experience, building close connections with fellow women is an immensely powerful feminist act. Communicating, laughing, growing stronger with each other is a form of resistance. It is a strengthening of bonds between women where patriarchy has sought to keep us apart, rivals, without coherent community. In forming such connections there’s a centring of women’s wishes and concerns. That is, it’s about women valuing women, a rare emotional space in which we aren’t considered less than (that is, if all parties are doing friendship right!) or centring men.

Bitch Blogs: Stop calling Joan Holloway fat!

If I hear another blogger/author/interviewer comment on Christina Hendricks’ weight I might lose it. As if her body (omg BOOBS) wasn’t enough of a focus already, now she is being picked apart for her appearance at the Golden Globes the other night. As you may have seen by now, Cathy Horyn fromThe New York Times claimed that “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress” and ran this (distorted) photo of Hendricks

Women & Hollywood: Roe v. Wade Anniversary: Friday Night Lights and Private Practice Tackles Abortion

Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. While I don’t know if this is coincidental, two shows this week — Friday Night Lights and Private Practice — both had major storylines that tackled abortion worthy of a look.

Gender Across Borders: The 11th Carnival of Feminists – Global Edition!

Welcome to the 11th Carnival of Feminists! Gender Across Borders is proud to present a Global Edition of the Carnival. We want to thank everyone who submitted posts to this Carnival, and we hope you enjoy reading all of the excellent posts linked below!

this ain’t livin’: Beyond the Binary: Meeting People

For nonbinaries, it’s a strange place to navigate. Because people gender automatically, there’s no space to provide correct information about gender. And this means that, for the most part, we are misgendered from the start when we meet by people who fit us into a binary slot based on names, appearances, ways of movement, and so forth.

Genderbitch: The Day My Hope for Feminism Died

One of the worst transphobic haters in feminist history died in 2010. Mary Daly. I’m not one that gets pleasure out of people dying and I don’t find her death to be a good thing. I would much prefer if people like her stopped hating, recanted their statements and worked on our behalf to try to make amends for those they killed through their words enforcing the exclusion of us from jobs, rape shelters and attempting to deny us what we need to survive.

Small Strokes: Teaching Feminism and Body Image: What Are Commercials Really Selling?

To me, this commercial is clearly “selling” Dove’s self esteem workshops, which I think are brilliant and necessary (although, I must admit, I haven’t done much research into them). When I asked my students what this commercial was selling, they instantly said: “Dove soap.”

Swimsuit Issue: Save the Boobies!

Women have been encouraged to update their statuses with the colour of their bra. Why? For breast cancer awareness, that’s why. Apparently telling everybody on your friends list that you’re wearing a red bra, is, like, totally a positive thing.

Except that it’s not. It’s creepy.

this ain’t livin’: Yes, Actually, I Can Make An Informed Choice

And it’s a trend which bears some exploration, because I think that it says a lot about feminism and the issues within the feminist movement.

It’s the idea that certain women don’t know what’s good for them. These women need to be told in no uncertain words about how to take care of their bodies, how to live their lives, how to interact with medical professionals, how to make decisions about their medical care. And, by extension, how to handle their disabilities.

a shiny new coin: Farwell Ten, allons-y Eleven

If you’re a terribly geeky Whovian like myself (if you want proof of exactly how geeky a Whovian I am: as I type this I’m wrestling with my kitten Gallifrey who wants to type too) you’ve already watched David Tennant’s finale in the role he was born to play, despite it not having aired in your country yet. Welcome to the online world BBC, what did you expect? (Oh, and ABC: three months?! You’re a bunch of wankers.)

Bitch Blogs: Jennifer Hawkins poses nude, “flaws” and all

Australian beauty queen and model Jennifer Hawkins appears nude and un-Photoshopped on the February cover of Marie Claire magazine. According to Hawkins, the photo shoot is meant to inspire confidence in women and raise money for an eating disorder support organization. Though her heart may be in the right place, Hawkins’ cover shoot just is diong the opposite of what she intended.

fbomb: The Lovely Bones

I read the book The Lovely Bones a few years after it came out. I was about fourteen and I couldn’t remember having ever read a book where the protagonist reminded me so much of myself, or at least somebody with a voice I could relate to. The protagonist, Susie Salmon, was the same age as I was, but all the other fourteen year olds being portrayed in books that I had read were usually vapid (uh, The Clique books, anyone?). The character of Susie Salmon was smart, compassionate and observant.

Blizzard ’09 is underway!  And by blizzard, I just mean continuous snow.  It’s not really a blizzard but that’s what I’ve heard on the news.  And I don’t care if it’s not a blizzard, the roads are still bad and I have to drive to work soon.  Don’t forget to leave links to what you have been writing/reading in the comments!

The Undomestic Goddess: 9th Feminist Blog Carnival

Hello, all! I’m Amanda, aka the Undomestic Goddess, and I’m your ringmaster for this here 9th carnival of feminists. Thanks to all who submitted, and to Lindsay for her guidance. And now, grab yer popcorn and step right up – the carnival has begun!

Small Strokes: On Body Image: How Confidence Affects Body Image

I never thought that something like this affected my body image, but now that I’ve been thinking about it pretty much constantly since my original post a few weeks ago, I realized that it had more of an effect than I thought. Since the issues with my thesis came to my attention, I came home every day and put on my pajamas and crawled under the covers, not wanting to be seen by anyone. I didn’t want to blog or tweet or answer my phone. I went to work in bulky sweaters, and there was no way Tim was getting me out of the apartment this weekend. I just didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t feel worthy of seeing anyone.

Womanist Musings: Feminism is not a dirty word but it is exclusionary

The issue with feminism is that by locating gender as the singular site of oppression in the lives of women, it ignores the ways in which class, sexuality, disability and race also form the basis of marginalization.

FWD/Forward: Needs Are Not Special

“Special needs” is one of those phrases that just kind of irks me.

I see it most commonly used in reference to children or developmentally disabled adults; the implication in both cases is that the “special needs” individual can’t function without someone else’s help. That this person is totally dependent. And it carries, to my ears, a subtle note of disability-as-tragedy and hardship. Because, of course, if someone is “special needs” that means that someone else must need to meet those “special needs,” right? And that person must be sacrificing so much to get those “special needs” met.

Women & Hollywood: Women, Hollywood and Money

Women are second class citizens in Hollywood and the best way to illustrate it is to look at the money — how it’s earned and how it’s distributed.

I’m enjoying my first day off in about a week by vegging in front of the television.  Not that productive, but it’s pretty enjoyable.  I’ve recently started watching Torchwood and I am currently watching one where James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) is guest starring and it makes me really happy.  But I figured I should take a break from my vegging to do a link love post!  Don’t forget to leave links to what you have been writing/reading in the comments!

this ain’t livin’: On Feminism, and How to Make it Better

Feminism is a huge movement, but it’s not inclusive, and as a result, many people do not want to identify themselves with it because they are excluded by feminism, and they see no need to be a part of a movement which clearly does not want them. Women of colour, trans women, lower class women, disabled women, they are all theoretically candidates for membership in the feminist movement, but they find the movement so inaccessible that they don’t identify with it.

Because, really, why identify with a movement which is actively harming you?

Appetite for Equal Rights: Feminist Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re gift-giving this holiday season, here’s your Feminist Gift Guide to go by. Use it to find the perfect present for the feminist(s) in your life, or put what you like on your wishlist for you to enjoy.

There are some pretty great ideas in there…

Equal Writes: Dockers: making pants-wearing more misogynistic than ever before

Complacent about what? The fact that Men (and yes, I do mean He-Men) also enjoy some veggies with their steak? But no, apparently there are some questions that our “genderless society has no answer for” – like after seeing this ad, why anyone would wear Dockers.

This ad campaign is pretty disgusting.  I’m contemplating a post of my own on the matter.

Womanist Musings: Disliking Tiger Woods is not a Reason to Laugh at Domestic Violence

What I find disturbing about this so-called comedy is that it reduces domestic violence to something that is not serious, damaging and LIFE THREATENING. Clearly, statistically the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women in heterosexual relationships but this does not mean that there are not male victims. In some situations men DO get beaten by their wives. Domestic violence is also a facet of same sex relationships. When we laugh and create images of a man being beaten, we are victim shaming and making it even more difficult for male victims to step forward and get the help and counselling that they desperately need.

Please watch the SNL clip in the post when you read this.  It is truly disturbing.

Small Strokes: On Body Image: Danine Spencer

I could write an entire post about how any one of these things have decimated my self-concept. Any such post would have to be written in past tense, though. Whenever I look in the mirror lately and I feel bad because my skin isn’t clear or my roots are showing, I am reminded that I am standing up, looking in the mirror, without assistance from anyone or anything.