Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Would Lisbeth Do?

Ankle boots may make a larger comeback than expected this fall—or at the very least, a more meaningful one.

Hundreds of walkers, including men, will soon sport women’s footwear at the YWCA’s annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event on Thursday, Oct. 20 to raise awareness about domestic violence against women.

“This event shows what it means to be a woman,” said Heather Finlay, CEO of the San Diego County YWCA. “We are not going to put a stop to domestic violence with just women; we need help from men, society and the community. Everybody needs to take a lead role in ending violence against women, and this is something that actually works.”

The annual event—a fundraiser for the YWCA of San Diego County—asks participants to wear women’s shoes while walking one mile in downtown San Diego to raise awareness about the issue while fundraising for the nonprofit’s programs.

“It’s really a community event,” said YWCA’s Development Manager Carol Ann Chambers, who has worked with the nonprofit for five years. “It’s a nice way for us to engage our men because it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a community issue.”

Read the rest of the article here:

It's certainly no secret that the Millennium series has been praised for its portrayal and condemnation of violence against women, and for its feminist vigiliante character who has taken the world by storm. Our very own Lisbeth Salander has become quite the topic of discussion and debate among scholars, essayists, feminists and the like.

While she is often considered a feminist character, the general consensus (which includes the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, Noomi Rapace) is that she is not a role model.

For one, who can picture Lisbeth taking part in something like this? A walk against domestic violence? I can just hear her saying, "Pssh. What will that do?" Clearly our Lisbeth prefers wielding a Molotov cocktail and/or a tattoo gun in order to enforce her own, not-so-legal form of justice. While it can be argued that her situations and her justifiable mistrust of the law call for such drastic action, clearly this is not recommendable behavior. If any of use were to do half the things she does, we'd be looking at some lengthy prison sentences.

While we may see such demonstrations against domestic violence as important and useful, how would it look for someone like Lisbeth? For her, domestic violence is not merely a cause or an idea: it hits close to home. In her mind, what does standing in solidarity accomplish? Nothing. A walk for domestic violence certainly didn't stop her father from beating her mother. Setting him on fire, on the other hand, did.

In any case, Lisbeth is not the activist type, nor is she an idealist. She's a survivor. While she does inspire readers the world over, clearly it has never been her intention to do so. While "What Would Lisbeth Do?" is certainly a catchy slogan for merchandise items, clearly it's not to be taken literally.

Cafe Press, you are amazing.

I myself am certainly in favor of such events that spread awareness. I would gladly take part in this event if I could. I believe there are many different ways to be a feminist, and taking part in demonstrations is one of them. Hacking into computers, wielding a Taser and subjecting wrongdoers to torture are Lisbeth's methods - and are much easier to get away with in the fictional world.

By all means, let's admire Lisbeth and cheer her on, but imitating her behavior is probably not a good idea. Let's embrace our feminist identity and tap into the Lisbeth Salander in all of us - but while we're at it, let's keep it safe and legal.

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