What is happening in the life of this grumpy, old woman when the lockdown number 2 continues to its sixth month with no end in sight?

(previous COVID entry here)

Well…

1I traded my Spotify Premium to an audiobook subscription (includes free e-books), at least to try it out, and started the journey with Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women. While many of her stories are familiar, the constant bombarding with depressing stats is a remarkable experience which leaves you (me, maybe you are different) tired and deflated. Rather than gearing me to fight the patriarchy, I want to curl under the blanket and quietly sob into my pillow.

It’s not just that women’s euro is 80 cents, nor that women do the majority of the unpaid work in the world, but that the world is designed for the “Reference Man” and women are an anomaly, an afterthought or just not interesting to product development, medicine, policies, everything. In the meanwhile women’s bodies and lifestyles (meaning e.g. the unpaid work) resist the Reference Man making our life harder (e.g. urban planning) or even dangerous (e.g. drug testing). Why aren’t women more like men, the author repeatedly asks to highlight the inconvenience women cause. But what can you expect from a mere rib taken from something godly.

Many of these things seem to be oversight rather than bad intentions which the author merits to missing gender-specific data and to decision makers being a homogeneous group. The data problem is probably easier to fix than power structures and maybe we should really focus on some kind of a standard of demographic data (which of course would be a violent act of categorisation and reduction of human multitudes) to help highlight the intersections. I am thinking this because I moved from gender to race and am currently listening to is Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race which is a more European perspective on racism.

2 On the other side of literary input I read a collection of short stories about the collision of Chinese and American cultures — Ha Jin’s A Good Fall. I am trying to balance my diet of primarily Western authors with the occasional non-Westerner but when I look at what I have read this year, Ha Jin is the first non-Westerner. Fail. He also writes in English and not in his native language, which is a question I have been thinking about as well. My English is not exact, I do not really feel the words, and often choose to translate Finnish which results in expressions where the intent probably does not really translate.

Ha Jin is not doing a bad job though. His choice of words emits the melancholy of what he describes: people between two worlds, trying to navigate the new and make new happen while unable to thoroughly shake off the old. A bit like my language.

3 Other reads and cultural explorations include some dips into the minds of Finnish female authors that are younger than me: Pakumatkalla about vanlife, Lupa about sex, Järjettömiä asioita autofiction (I think) and I bingewatched Aikuiset which is both written and directed by women. There is a lovely unabashedness in their approach to life, womanhood and what is possible for them not to apologise for, which counterbalances the bleakness of structural inequality and Ha Jin. At least that is how they appear in these books and TV shows. Please let them be true, let them be the modern Pippi Longstocking for adults.

Grumpy, old woman