The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: The SSL Review

Okay, this may be my quickest SSL Review ever (I will keep that sentence in, but as you can see, I am too long-winded to make this short. Sorry). Just as a bit of a reminder, an SSL review is a rather specific type. I'm specifically critiquing the depiction and discussion of female sexual release. I also usually speak a bit on my general feelings about the movie, but I think I am going to largely ignore that in this review - partially because I want to get it done quickly, but also because I think there are actually some really good reviews of this movie already out there.

But, just as a little taste of my general feelings...I was entertained while watching it. As a movie, it kept me interested, and I particularly liked the dynamic editing style. However, if I thought too much about the actual plot/characters, I felt like there were some silly holes. I also thought the girl with the dragon tattoo's character (Lisbeth) was a little bit all over the place. In a nutshell, I thought the movie was fine. I think most people (except those who don't want to see sexual aggression in a movie) would enjoy the ride. I wouldn't call it a great movie, though. To be critical (it is my favorite way to be), I thought there were some really typical, unoriginal depictions within this movie, and some of the character didn't hold together and make sense to me as the movie progressed. That's my two cents on that.

Here's my two cents on the depiction of Lisbeth's orgasm. That orgasm was the only depiction or discussion of female sexual release in the movie. Lisbeth was in a bed having intercourse with Mikael, the character played by Daniel Craig (not such a bad gig this actress has if you ask me). He was lying on his back in bed and she was on top of him, facing towards him.  He actually was talking about something not related to sex as she was rocking her body up and down his (as in towards his head then towards his feet - as opposed to up in the air then back down towards his body). The viewer could assume, because of the urgency in her actions and the relaxed non-sexual style of his, that she was trying to orgasm and that, at that time, he was uninterested in getting his orgasm - whether because he had already gotten his or because he was simply just being there for her to get her's.

They were covered from the waist down with blankets, so what was actually happening down there has to be partially assumed. It was her body position against him and her body movement that I think is important here. As I said before, she was sort of sliding in small strokes up and down the length of his body instead of the more common movie style of bouncing up and down on his penis. In the position Lisbeth was in, it is entirely possible to assume that her vulva/clitoris area is pressed against his pelvis while he is inside her, and the way her body is sliding back and forth instead of bouncing up and down ensures that her vulva/clitoris area stays in contact with his body. It seems that she is having sex in a way that allows her to rub her organ of sexual pleasure (clitoral glans) against a soft object (his pelvis) while maintaining steady pressure and controlling the specific movement. This is easily a situation that could bring a woman to orgasm. In fact, rubbing the clitoral/vulva area against a soft object is exactly one of the ways that Shere Hite, in The Hite Report - her important and comprehensive early 70's survey, identified as a method of masturbation that women do engage in.

Now, although I heavily applaud when a movie shows a female orgasm in a situation that could actually elicit an orgasm, I am not blind to the fact that this is subtle. I doubt anyone watched this and got their mind blown by the progressive way that a woman and her orgasm were depicted. I would describe the situation as one where a woman was rubbing her clitoris against a man with the specific intent of stimulating her clitoris in a way that would elicit an orgasm...oh and she had a penis in her vagina too. However, I also understand that it easily just reads as a woman having an orgasm through intercourse.

Women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, just as men need penile stimulation, but, I wouldn't call this scene an in-your-face shoutout to that fact. For all I know, this more realistic depiction may not have even been intentional. The actress may have simply depicted the type of sex she as a person enjoys and didn't really think much about it, or it could have been a result of movement limitations due to lighting..who knows? (I would actually love to speak to actresses about the intentions and thoughts behind their depictions of orgasm...someday...).

Intentional or not, I'll take it as a small step forward. The reason behind critiquing media depictions of female orgasm is to move towards a situation where reality is considered, noticed and incorporated into future depictions. I believe this could lessen the confusion, feelings of inadequacy, and misguided sexual expectation that go along with a regular diet of incorrect media depictions - particularly when the incorrectness goes almost totally unnoticed or unquestioned. 

So a realism is the goal, and this scene achieved that. I'm still waiting to see, in a mainstream movie, the progressive situation in which a woman uses her hand to masturbate herself to orgasm during intercourse, but that time has still not come. I will settle for the little ray of light, intentional or no, that this movie brought to the female orgasm.

I give this movie 4 vulvas.

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