Study Guide

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Gender

By Stieg Larsson


Stieg Larsson's trilogy is very focused on problems women face, especially violence and social inequality. Lisbeth Salander is probably the character that prompts the most discussion of gender. One film reviewer argues that "Salander isn't a 'violent femme'; she's not femme at all" (source). Hmm. Well, this is an interesting interpretation, but it might not consider how important Salander's identity as a woman is to her. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is most interested in challenging the idea that gender should determine the roles men and women play in society, and the idea that men and women are suited for different kinds of work. As we talk about in "What's Up With the Epigraph?", the novel focuses on the idea that women and men are equally suited to be warriors, doctors, lawyers, mathematicians, and journalists, to name a few.

Questions About Gender

  1. Do you think that Stieg Larsson would have explored men's issues more in future novels?
  2. Larsson seems to make a case that women need to be recognized as equally suited for battle as men, and that women warriors have been left out of the history book. Do you agree? Why, or why not?
  3. Judging from their reactions to Erika Berger, how does the boys' club at SMP feel about women? Do you think Berger does anything that could make them change their thinking?
  4. Which women in the novel face some kind of discrimination? How do they deal with it?
  5. Do you agree with the film reviewer that "Salander isn't a 'violent femme'; she's not femme at all" (source)?

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