Salander was not like any normal person. She had a rudimentary knowledge of the law—it was a subject she had never had occasion to explore—and her faith in the police was generally exiguous. For her the police were a hostile force who over the years had put her under arrest or humiliated her. The last dealing she had had with the police was in May of the previous year when she was walking past Götgatan on her way to Milton Security. She suddenly found herself facing a visor-clad riot police officer. Without the slightest provocation on her part, he had struck her on the shoulders with his baton. Her spontaneous reaction was to launch a fierce counterattack, using a Coca-Cola bottle that she had in her hand. The officer turned on his heel and ran off before she could injure him. Only later did she find out that “Reclaim the Streets” was holding a demonstration farther down the road.
Visiting the offices of those visor-clad brutes to file a report against Nils Bjurman for sexual assault did not even cross her mind. And besides—what was she supposed to report? Bjurman had touched her breasts. Any officer would take one look at her and conclude that with her miniature boobs, that was highly unlikely. And if it had actually happened, she should be proud that someone had even bothered. And the part about sucking his dick—it was, as he had warned her, her word against his, and generally in her experience the words of other people weighed more heavily than hers. The police were not an option.
She left Bjurman’s office and went home, took a shower, ate two sandwiches with cheese and pickles, and then sat on the worn-out sofa in the living room to think.
An ordinary person might have felt that her lack of reaction had shifted the blame to her—it might have been another sign that she was so abnormal that even rape could evoke no adequate emotional response.
Her circle of acquaintances was not large, nor did it contain any members of the sheltered middle class from the suburbs. By the time she was eighteen, Salander did not know a single girl who at some point had not been forced to perform some sort of sexual act against her will. Most of these assaults involved slightly older boyfriends who, using a certain amount of force, made sure that they had their way. As far as Salander knew, these incidents had led to crying and angry outbursts, but never to a police report.
In her world, this was the natural order of things. As a girl she was legal prey, especially if she was dressed in a worn black leather jacket and had pierced eyebrows, tattoos, and zero social status.
There was no point whimpering about it.
On the other hand, there was no question of Advokat Bjurman going unpunished. Salander never forgot an injustice, and by nature she was anything but forgiving.
– From The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
I was in a bookstore, flipping through a copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo when I first came upon this passage.
I’d heard about Dragon Tattoo’s notorious rape scenes (and equally notorious rape-revenge scene), but I’d decided to brave it anyway. I’ve since picked up a copy, and added it to my stack of books I need to read – I’ll get to it one of these days – but that one passage struck so much of a chord in me that I need to talk about it now instead of later.