Why we need female role models, even if fictional

Sanne van Oosten

With the premier of The Girl Who Played With Fire coming up, I am hoping that Hollywood managed to make the lead Lisbeth Salander as inspirational to women as the version in the novel by Stieg Larsson was. The second book to the Millenium­-trilogy was the book in which the character Lisbeth Salander was given depth that is unique for female characters in the history of literature.

Lisbeth Salander is not your typical woman. She doesn’t have a normal job either. She is a researcher for a security company in which she uses her talent as a relentless computer hacker. Her colleagues don’t like her one bit as she is not one for chit-chat. She shows up for work, does her job and doesn’t want to waste her time on nosy colleagues. She also doesn’t have the most normal love life. She has a occasional female bed partner, Mimi Wu, but she sleeps with whoever she is attracted to and doesn’t really care if that is a man or a woman. But what inspired me the most wasSalanders complete fuck you attitude. She never cared one bit what other people thought of her, she just wanted to live her life in peace.

Even though Salander isn’t your typical woman, she does have to deal with some typical problems that many women today are faced with. She is always underestimated. Partly this is because she looks so much younger than she actually is and partly this is because of her punk outfits, tattoos and piercings. Nobody ever expects her to be as intelligent and competent as she really is. Also, she has been victim of sexual abuse by a person who saw her as too daft to do anything about it, how wrong he was. In The Girl Who Played with Fire it also turns out the life of her mother and herself is worth a lot less than the life of her father. In sum, she deals with the fact that women are still undervalued in society in a unique way in contemporary fiction.

Even though I would never want to be exactly like Lisbeth Salander, I have learned a lot from her. I am the kind of person who cares about being agreeable and generally liked, as is deemed to be an endearing feature for women. Getting lost in the world of a fictional female character who was quite the opposite was just what I needed. Salander is the kind of person who does not care about being different and will not give a person a second of her time if it is not in her advantage. This is unique for female fictional and nonfictional characters because women are more often than not seen as the ones who should be agreeable and friendly. If a man isn’t agreeable and friendly it isn’t always appreciated, but if a woman doesn’t fit these characteristics this is still seen as a much greater sin. The heroin Lisbeth Salander is breaking this pattern.

Even though she doesn’t care about what others think of her, she does care about fighting injustice. It might not make her more likable to others, but fighting injustice is just something that she has to do. Let’s hope that the Hollywood version of Lisbeth Salander is just as unique in her fuck you attitude as she was in the book. Can’t wait to see it.

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