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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

June 14, 2010

Note: The following post is intended for a female audience. It is explicit and graphic.

According to a 1998 Department of Justice Report, 1 out of 6 women are the victim of rape or attempted rape. The National Victim Center found that 83.8 percent of women who were raped were under the age of 25, 61.6 % were under 18, and 30% were under 10. One thing that the statistics do not show is how many women were repeatedly raped by the same person. Quite often, a woman is the target of abuse on a daily basis for weeks, months, or years.

Although The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery, it is really about rape. There are many ways to deal with victimization, but, no matter what you do in reality, you will most likely have violent revenge fantasies. Years later, you have a family, children, you feel safe and happy. But then at night, you’re lying there imaging that you had gouged out his eyes, had cut his stomach open, filled it with rocks, and pushed him off a cliff. You wish you could have tattooed ‘sadist’ on his chest. Mostly you imagine stabbing him repeatedly. There are certain places where no one may ever touch you, not even your husband or wife. When they ask why, you just say, ‘because.’

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is therapeutic because, in it, the characters enact revenge. They kill, beat, and tattoo their tormentors. Jhonen Vasquez once said that our violent fantasies prevent us from committing violence. They are our healthy escape. Yet we never feel quite right telling people, ‘I spent an hour today imagining new ways to tear a trachea.’ So we just don’t talk about our violent fantasies; we let them stew.

For many women this film will be a relief. And there is enough going on in the film that, after it’s over and you go to the local pub to discuss it, you can talk about the clues, the suspense, the main character’s clothing, and not have to mention that what you saw is aligned with the world of dark, paranoid fantasies that we all silently share.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be playing at the Harris Theater June 14th through June 17th.

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