Feminists for Rape

Last summer, a group of feminist scholars published a collection of essays exploring themes of violence and retribution in Stieg Larsson’s millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). The essays, edited by Professors Donna King and Carrie Smith, appear under the title Men Who Hate Women: And Women Who Kick Their Asses. A more accurate title might have been Feminists Who Promote Vigilantism: And Leftists Universities that Promote Them.

It is difficult to imagine a more unusual subject for a set of scholarly essays. Those familiar with the plot of the Larsson Trilogy know that it centers on Lisbeth Salander, a feminist heroin who is sexually harassed by Bjurman, a lawyer and social worker. Early in the first movie, he makes her perform oral sex on him in exchange for a welfare check, which she needs desperately. Later, she hatches a plan for revenge against Bjurman. Things go downhill rapidly.

In the original revenge plot, Salander burglarizes Bjurman’s home in order to plant a hidden camera. She returns to perform oral sex on him again in exchange for another welfare check – only this time on hidden camera. This is done for the purpose of blackmailing him. But, predictably, the plan backfires. In fact, Bjurman binds and brutally rapes her in front of the hidden security camera. It is among the most graphic scenes of violence in the trilogy. But it isn’t the only one.

Later, Salander goes back to his home – again seeking extralegal revenge. This time, Bjurman is handcuffed by her. While he is handcuffed, she brutally sodomizes him with inanimate objects. Next, she tattoos “I am a sadistic pig and rapist” on his chest. Before leaving, she blackmails him with threats of putting the video of his rape of her online.

Before proceeding further, does anyone think we need an entire book exploring the question of whether such sadistic violence is empowering for women? Apparently, Vanderbilt University Press thought so. And editors King and Smith seem to have been unable (or unwilling) to find a single scholar to condemn this brutal vigilantism as being immoral – or at least potentially bad for women. (They should have called me. I would have brought some diversity to the collection).

In fairness, some of the feminist contributors to Men Who Hate Women seem ambivalent toward the movie’s vigilantism. But Professor De Welde endorses it wholeheartedly. That is to say, she deems the violence both legally and morally permissible.

De Welde’s essay, “Kick ass feminism” actually reads more like the script of a reality TV show than a work of scholarship. For example, when De Welde discusses the reaction of one of Salander’s assault victims she notes that he “nearly shits himself.” When I found out De Welde had tenure, I had a similar reaction. But De Welde really gets down to business when she discusses the rape of Bjurman.

It is important to note that De Welde characterizes what happened to Bjurman as a rape. Jurisdictions are split on this matter. Some refer to forcible sodomy and/or sexual assault with inanimate objects as “felony sexual assault” and handle their prosecution under separate statutes. It is irrelevant here in North Carolina where the aggravating factors and punishment schemes are identical for both offenses. Nonetheless, as soon as De Welde admits it was a rape, she claims it was also an “act of self-defense.”

In her essay, De Welde also discusses another vigilante scene wherein Salander tried to kill her dad with an axe – first with a blow to the leg, then with a blow to the head. He survived the attack. That’s too bad, according to De Welde. She says it was merely self-defense. (By the way, her dad did not rape her. She just tried to kill him because he was abusive toward her mother when Lisbeth was a child.).

Before we proceed, it is important to understand that De Welde is not saying that these acts ought to be self-defense. She’s saying they are self-defense. And that is simply wrong for three reasons:

1. In order to have a valid claim of self-defense, she must experience reasonable fear at the time she engages in the act for which she is claiming self-defense. Lisbeth isn’t in fear when she rapes, tortures, and a brands Bjurman. She is experiencing orgiastic ecstasy.

2. In addition to proving that she is experiencing fear, she must show that the outcome feared is imminent. As stated above, she fears nothing – certainly not the rape that already occurred.

3. Those using self-defense must also show that the act of defense was proportionate to the attack. Although she rapes Bjurman in response to her rape of him, it is irrelevant. She’s already lost her claim of self-defense for the above stated reasons. Turning to the attack on her father, which De Welde also calls self-defense, amplifies the incompetence of De Welde’s legal analysis.  Salander tried to murder him in response to anger at generalized abuse toward another individual. It is simply bizarre that De Welde would attempt to stretch the law to excuse such a disproportionate and belated response.

De Welde finishes her essay attempting to sanitize her position on gender-based vigilantism: “I argue here that feminism can benefit from more fully incorporating women’s physical aggression as a way of challenging men’s domination and women can benefit from seeing physical resistance as a possibility.”

Actually, De Welde doesn’t argue that position. In fact, she doesn’t argue any position. She asserts a position. The difference between an assertion and an argument is evidence. And that is what she is lacking. Although she is a tenured sociology professor she provides no social data in her essay. Vigilantism does not work in fiction. And there is no evidence that it works in reality.

This is what happens when a bunch of feminists step out of their respective disciplines to produce a “scholarly work” in the area of Women’s Studies. All standards fly out the window and they end up advocating violence as a pathway to social justice.  Some even brand themselves as sadistic pigs and rapists in the process.

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  • Mary Sue

    Oh yes, and you can bet your bottom dollar the underlying justification is that women are "oppressed", and they'll support what I like to call "terrorism by women" for the same reason they'll line up with the PLO and Hamas and Hezbollah with signs waving about how apartheid Israel allegedly is, and mindlessly chanting that 'from the river to the sea' horse puckey.

    Or, as is more simply put, feminists are relying on the "Two wrongs make a right" theory.

    • Miranda Rose Smith

      Pro-PLO "feminists" make me feel like Shakespeare's Margaret of Anjou (The feminists would love her.): "Why strewst thou sugar on that bottled spider/ Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?/ Poor fool, thou whetst the knife to kill thyself."

      Except for a few brainwashed, 18 year old, victims-of-groupthink dimwits, I don't think there's anybody alive who actually believes Israel is an apartheid country. They all know, perfectly well, that the Arabs in Israel enjoy full civil rights and Israel is the least apartheid country on the planet. They want to ban and ostracize Jews and their charges of apartheid, against Israel, are the most blatant case of projection since the Roman catapult.

      • Mary Sue

        Those brainwashed/braindead 18 year olds have Rachel Corrie Syndrome.

    • LibertarianToo

      As a libertarian, I am also, of course, a feminist, and strongly pro-Israel. I will not be supporting Hamas et al any time soon, and I'm wondering why you think a belief in equality before the law implies support for Jihadi savages.

      Incidentally, something else that relies on the "two wrongs make a right" theory is the biblical eye-for-an-eye approach to justice.

      • Andrew

        Just commenting on your biblical reference: no, the biblical eye-for-an-eye is not an advocate of the "two wrongs make a right theory". That is completely misinterpreted these days. The biblical injunction's intent is that the punishment should be in proportion to the offense. This was in the days when absolute monarchs could have your head lopped off for accidentally insulting the queen, or other such trivial offenses. People take "eye for an eye" for granted these days because it has been so many centuries since those times.

        • LibertarianToo

          Exactly. The punishment should be proportional to the crime. Or in the biblical example, exactly identical to the crime: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. If poking out someone's eye is wrong, then poking out someone else's eye is wrong. Ergo, two wrongs make a right –at least according to the bible. And Moses. And the Author of the Law.

      • Mary Sue

        except that isn't exactly what that means.

        The Feminist Version would punish a person that had NOTHING to do with the original wrong.

      • http://precociouscomic.com/ tyciol

        "As a libertarian, I am also, of course, a feminist"

        Libertarians have to be feminist now? Wow.

  • Miranda Rose Smith

    "A feminist heroin?"

    I think you mean "heroine," unless she's high when she commits the vigilantism.

  • sflbib

    Ann Coulter is right: the Left is demonic.

    • http://precociouscomic.com/ tyciol

      Right, because we should judge the entire left based on feminism? =/

  • Loupdegarre

    There is an old Chinese Proverb that states, "Before you set out on the path of revenge, you must dig two graves". The femminist just keep digging.

  • http://twitter.com/paulvmarks @paulvmarks

    How does someone on welfare afford a video camera? Especially if she is "desperate" for the next payment?

    And what has it got to do with this man whether the lady gets welfare?

    • tagalog

      In the books, Salander is a computer genius, and makes money off the books, i.e., illegally and without paying taxes, doing private computer-based investigative work. That investigative work is the springboard from which she enters the action of Larsson's trilogy.

      As in all thriller novels, such work pays the fictional hero(ine) far more than it would in reality.

      • http://twitter.com/paulvmarks @paulvmarks

        I see – many thanks.

  • Jane Larson

    The author Larsson was a Marxist and wrote his novels to sell Marxism. The books are not realistic. It is interesting to note that the character Salander is not completely Swedish like the author, her evil father is a foreigner, thus the Swedish reader can indulge in racism while being Marxist.

  • goemon

    Am I the only one here who loves the satisfaction of revenge? Good for Salander I say!

    • tagalog

      Good revenge movie, a favorite: Payback with Mel Gibson. Love it.

      "Got a light?"


      "Then what good are you?"

  • LibertarianToo

    I admit I haven't read the books. I did see the movie of the first one, and the "welfare checks" were nothing of the kind- they were some kind of trust fund disbursments, of which Salander's assailant was the executor or something. Maybe in the book they were "welfare checks" though why Bjurman would control welfare checks escapes me.

    Excuse me, but I believe that there are many, many people who believe that "turnaround is fair play" and plenty more who believe that revenge and justice have a lot in common. I am reminded of brief interviews with family members of some victims of the Khmer Rouge, who were describing in lurid detail just what should be done to members of Pol Pot's regime (skinning alive was one suggestion.) I have also seen footage of a group of emaciated concentration camp inmates, just liberated, who proceeded to beat to death one of their former guards. Self-defense? Not exactly, but certainly understandable. I suspect victims of violent assaults often daydream of revenge.

    As for the contention that "vigilantism does not work in fiction" -Larsson's books were runaway bestsellers. Must have struck a responsive chord somewhere.

    • tagalog

      Bjurman is Salander's court-appointed conservator because Salander has (before the novels begin) been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent because she won't talk to anyone, and is held to be in need of someone to manage her financial affairs. That's explained in the novels.

      Lots of people, including me, have some degree of sympathy with some kinds of revenge. That's why there are so many novels and thrillers with revenge themes; people like them. But revenge is NEVER claimed, fictionally or in reality, to be particularly moral. It's just payback.

  • tagalog

    We're living at present in a time when Hollywood and novels extol violence by blacks against whites, by women against men, and vigilantism in general.

    When the violence is perpetrated by women against men or by blacks against whites, it's treated with tolerance. "After all, they've experienced so much mistreatment, it's understandable."

    The fact that ideologically-based violence eliminates the moral legitimacy of their position vis-a-vis their mistreatment seems to have been forgotten.

    And, of course, black-on-white, female-on-male violence can easily be transformed into white-on-black, men-on-women violence, and the objection to such violence has no moral force.

    I miss the days when we lived in a civilized society. We've become so degraded it's no wonder we hear weekly about some lunatic shooting up his surroundings and killing a bunch of innocent people.

  • garretso

    Lets not forget that it is all a work of fiction – one man's fantasy (of how horrible men are and how heroic women are). Let us also remember that Stieg Larsson left the fortune he earned from this violence exploitation trilogy to his brothers – not his fellow feminist female life partner.

  • Glennd1

    I've seen all three movies, but turned off the American re-make of the first because it was so awful. Christopher Hitchens did a very interesting review of the trilogy after Larsson's death – I think he's spot on http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/1

    My takeaway from the movies is that this is feminism run amok. It's not just the permissive morality that Lisbet is granted – vengeance equalling justice only for female victims of abuse – it's the portrayal of men in the book. The reporter, who seems modeled after Larsson who declared himself a "feminist" publicly, is singularly dull and overly restrained and stunted emotionally. Even the hero has to be a bum. As literature it's also not any great shakes. One has to really go along way to grant Lisbet all her super skills that she possesses.

    The rest of the men are truly monsters. Okay, as art fine, you want to create this warped world, okay, but then I'm forced to try and take the "message" seriously. And the message is simple. Vengeance is good. Female vengeance against males is something to take great pleasure in. Women are tough. That's it. There is not greater societal context because Larsson doesn't deign to ground his story in any society that I recognize as real. It isn't metaphor for anyhing, it's far to direct and action packed to carry any such subtlety.

    I think Larsson is just one of many "artists" the Progressives crown based on a political-identity basis versus actual talent, like a Danish David Sedaris, who's popularity certainly cannot be based on his skills as a storyteller. Larrson was a self-hating man who played to feminist-supremacists fetishes and fantasies. He's welcome to it, but don't call it art.

  • Karrah

    upto I looked at the bank draft of $7260, I did not believe …that…my brother could actually receiving money part-time from there computar.. there sisters neighbour haz done this for under eight months and at present took care of the morgage on there villa and bourt a brand new Nissan GT-R:. I went here,…….. BIT40.ℂOℳ

  • http://precociouscomic.com/ tyciol

    Funny how feminists will endorse this woman revenge-sodomizing a guy for raping her, but if a man were to revenge-rape a woman to punish her for raping him before, they would probably protest that.

  • Ghostwriter

    While there are women who are feminists who don't hate men,there are those who do and they are probably regarded by the more sane members of the movement as nutjobs.

  • whiskas

    Someone should write a book with the genders reversed. Imagine the outrage.