I thought I would share my thoughts on attempting to read the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series. The language is not the most genteel in the below quote from yours truly so if you might find yourself breathlessly offended then please make your escape now.

I warned you…

Re: whether or not to read the books: “Yeah, don’t bother, they are terrible. I hate the Salander character. She’s just another idealized fetishist fantasy for geeks to masturbate over (also see any female featured in a Transformers movie). I hate Blomqvist because he has a stupid name and is a typical average male who can’t help but be fucked on by every single attractive female in the series. It’s not his fault, they are insatiable minxes. What else could he do but go along with it?”

And this is all true.

In the gear world we have our versions of Salander. I have seen them on a Patagonia poster, long blonde hair in a messy ponytail, pulling on a climbing board above a filthy apartment, with two typical climber-dogs looking on. I have seen them in every single [insert cause here] calendar, posing naked or nearly naked, with wet t-shirt, helmets held over boobs, naked torso artfully covered by skis, posing in a tortured position to barely cover any overly titillating anatomy in VeloNews of all magazines, bouldering nude for a black and white lens….and on and on and on. Fucking YAWN! I know that the horndog male masses only get a bigger kick out of this kind of thing time and time again. And female athletes never seem to clue in that the one-note sexualized fetishist outdoor fantasy girl is their role. Sure, the Patagonia poster pictures a fully clothed, very talented climber, but it also idealizes her for the dirtbag crowd. “Oh, if only I could find a girl who looks amazing in a dress but isn’t afraid to go camping and get dirty, and can go from jeans to heels in five minutes!!!!!” moan the match.com looking-for-woman ads (I’m just guessing here, but go ahead: prove me wrong). They see that poster and they think “oh! That is she! She’s a long haired blonde, doesn’t mind being dirty (from the state of the apartment), can pull on some serious climbs, but man! Won’t she look nice after she combs her hair and puts on a dress which I’m sure she can do in about five minutes!” Don’t they?

OK, so that poster is in the ladies’ room of the local climbing gym. I’ve no idea what’s in the guy’s locker room. LIE! I go in there when it’s empty, because it’s more convenient, but I carefully avert my eyes from anything posted on the walls. This poster is meant to inspire us ladies, but I’m too cynical to be motivated. Quick, someone please clue me in to a female outdoor athlete who is well-known, used in ads, talented, and has not posed nearly naked or in some pose intended to sexually apotheosize her (thanks to @RikRay on twitter for that excellent synonym to “fetishize”)! Just one. I can name dozens of male athletes who fit this description. There MUST be some women athletes who do….?

I know what you’re thinking. Can the industry win? They give me a picture of a fully clothed woman climbing something difficult and I’m still not happy. She’s wearing clothes, what else do I want? Well, for one thing, I want them depicted no differently than the men. Would a male climber be featured in an ad designed to show off how messy his apartment is (I’m not sure, but I’m assuming “no”)? So why is the state of this climber’s apartment grounds for a poster? Because she’s a woman, and ooh, exciting, she is messy. She’s a climber’s dream; she’s a female dirtbag! She doesn’t have a real job nor does she care much about cleanliness (maybe in real life she does; I’ve no idea. But this ad is clearly designed to make the viewer think that this woman thinks of nothing but climbing at all times, at least when she’s not thinking about dogs)! She’s our dream woman! We can be a messy climbing-obsessed slob and she will still love us (and still look good in heels, of course)!

Can they win? Yes, they can win. I direct you, ironically, to the latest series of Patagonia catalogs, which featured as usual perfectly normal action shots of women athletes, and even a story or two by a female athlete. I loved these catalogs so much that I kept them. I also direct you to the cover of this Patagonia product; featuring Lynn Hill doing something cute, attractive, AND awesomely difficult. I love seeing normal women doing normal outdoors things. I love seeing women featured for their feats of strength when also not featured for their feats of nudity. Oh Patagonia. How I love you. You’re both the “what to do” and “what not to do” example for my Saturday-evening blog post. Mostly, though, you’re in the “what to do” category. I’m just in a rather bitchy mood and decided to take that poster as offensively as I could. I think, though, that I’ve got a point. Can you send me a poster of that Lynn Hill pic? I’ll put it up in the locker room of the gym. And still leave the other one up too.