I'm writing in English, which is strange in itself since I really love my own language, Finnish, and since I detest the power position that the English language has in global communucation... but I'd get way too many complaints from American friends if I didn't write in a language comprehensible to them.

Dec 17, 2010

Language minorities

Sometimes I think we people are not very generous. Take the position of minority languages. In most countries minority languages have difficulties even existing. Russia is a great example. Even in a western country like the UK, Welsh and Gaelic are seriously struggling, and nobody knows how many generations will speak those languages fluently.

Then there's Finland and Canada. Finland has some struggling official minority languages (the Same languages in Lapland) and one official minority language that's not struggling in the same way, Swedish. Besides these there are of course several unofficial ones. The problem in the language majority's eyes seems to be the Swedish. Their situation in Finland is apparently very much like the French language situation in Canada. It's a second official language of the country, so anyone should get service in any government offices in Swedish. Also, as Swedish speaking Finns have to study Finnish at school, Finnish speaking Finns have to study Swedish. And they hate it so much! In fact, this hatred sometimes envelopes all the Swedish speaking Finns too. They are happier than Finns, they seem to be richer than Finns (this is only true about a small part of Swedish speaking Finns, but since those are the very visible ones...) and they sing better and even write better than Finns (well, at least Tove Jansson, Bo Carpelan and Kjell Westö do in my opinion)!

People hate minorities that do as well, or sometimes better in their eyes, as the majority. Minorities should suffer. Minorities should content themselves with speaking the majority language.

Only, as majority language speakers we have no clue how hard minority languages are to maintain. At school cool kids sometimes speak Finnish on breaks. If they didn't have their own schools - or were in the same complex even as Finnish speakers - how long until Swedish would only be spoken during lessons? And how many of those kids would eventually speak Finnish to their kids?

I was raised in a Swedish speaking village and went to a Swedish speaking school. Obviously, I'm partial. But I'm partial for the rights of other minority languages too. And, incidentally, I think Spanish should be compulsory at school in America!

(Image of Moomin troll from Skolverkets modersmål pages. Oy Moomin Characters Ltd. All of the Moominvalley characters are globally registered trademarks.)

Dec 15, 2010

non-holiday post

Sorry, today I thought, once more, about skin color. Oh, I thought about Christmas too, a bit, but that wouldn't make much of a post.

The question of today was: what will we teach our child about this skin color issue?

My decision was (and husband might agree) that we will first teach him that skin color doesn't matter. This teaching should mostly be done non-verbally, only if there is an issue should it be discussed. Issue could be child asking, or situation seen.

However, a couple of years later we will also teach our child that skin color has always mattered. Hopefully at this point he will already take people as they are. I don't want him to become one of us whites who thinks black people are making an issue out of nothing - I want my child to understand how privileges define his world, and above all, that being a white male he can't get an idea of what it is like to be in America, or Finland, as black or as female.

Maybe this will eventually help him to create a world where people in fact aren't defined as white or black and skin color is pinkish-yellowish, or brownish beigeish, or deep brown, or copper-toned with slight tinge of yellow... and all of these are admirable.

How to teach this and when this should be taught is another matter. I have no clue. Any ideas?

Dec 6, 2010

Does Christmas translate to joulu?

A week ago was the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is something I learned at school. My teacher taught me it is waiting for Christ (Finnish schools were definitively more Christian and more Lutheran when I was a kid). On the first Sunday (actually the Monday, of course, no school on Sunday) in Swedish-speaking schools we lit up one candle from a four-candle holder and sang Hosanna David's Son and talked about Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

I was so sad this year that nobody even realized it was First Sunday of Advent.

There's an irony in all this. In Finland I had just started liking Christmas again. I had been suffering from a serious Bridget Jones syndrome ("once again I am humiliatingly spending Christmas Eve alone in my parents' house in a single bed") but then along came Current Husband, who, not prone to depression anyway, loved all kinds of Christmases, Finnish or American. So I spent two nice Christmases with him in Finland, enjoying how I enjoyed Christmas again, and then moved to America. Now I'm wondering whether I'll ever have joulu again.

Joulu is, for me, a Christmas tree (always a fir tree or spruce, whatever the difference between those two, never a pine tree) with a star on top, loads of Christmas presents and huge Christmas meal consisting of traditional Finnish foods and lots and lots of fish, all on Christmas Eve. All of this (except maybe the presents) I hated for several years, feeling it underlined my singleton status... but now I'd like it. Only, now I have a Christmas tree at my in-laws, and it might be a pine tree and it might have an angel, not a star on top. I have more presents than ever, but some of them come by mail to my own address and are opened once we leave for the holidays or once we come back, and are always opened on Christmas Day. I have loads of food, but random American Christmas food, so no knowing really what will come up except for jello salad (this is in Utah). I can't blame my in-laws since they really try to encourage me to cook Finnish Christmas foods and sometimes even open up the presents on Christmas Eve. I think my mother-in-law guesses that Christmas is a time of home sickness. But what's the point if everything is just a bit off anyway? Besides, Finnish Christmas foods are about the weirdest Finnish foods in people's eyes here (they're the most traditional ones, that's why.)

Did I start liking joulu again only to notice there is no more joulu? Will I just learn to like the American version of Christmas in itself, without attaching any childhood memories to it? But isn't Christmas very much about childhood memories?

Nov 10, 2010

Warming, warming, but what else?

Yes, I am aware of the fact that global warming isn't as trendy a subject to discuss as it was a couple of years ago or even last year before the health care reform, but it may still be important, as stated in this Onion news article.

I just wanted to point out something I've been thinking about yesterday, while walking with a stroller in the November gloom. That is, global warming isn't the only environmental issue facing us and it's not the only one we have to deal with. This thought isn't my own at all - hard core scientific environmentalists have brought it up earlier - but it doesn't seem to catch.

Don't get me wrong, I don't belong to the so-called global warming skeptics. In fact, these skeptics hardly ever doubt that the climate is changing (that can be measured) but many doubt that human behavior has influenced that change, and that human behavior could also slow or stop the process. These are valid points and brought up by many real scientists, but it seems that the majority of climate scientists believe that, in fact, the carbon emissions by humanity are warming up the climate at a worrying rate. The fact that all don't agree only shows that we're talking about a real scientific process where there needs to be dissenting voices. That's how the scientific community works.

Then there are those skeptics who might not be scientists and who feel that liberals and environmentalists are using this global warming issue for their advantage. This would imply that there is a conspiracy and that the research is distorted and so on. I sort of agree on environmentalists using this for their advantage, being one myself. And possibly Al Gore did it too. But I don't agree on the conspiracy theory. In fact, I'm not at all excited about any conspiracy theories. Occam's razor, everyone! But of course the environmentalists (we environmentalists) like to make a noise about global warming, since it sounds satisfyingly catastrophic and may get people to react, which "mountaintop removal mining destroys our scenic Appalachians and soils the water sources in West Virginia" doesn't.

The danger is that we'll be so caught up in global warming that we forget the other issues. Also, if global warming becomes a less interesting news item at some point we'll have hard times fighting coal with any other weapons, since that fight is tied up with global warming...

But still, I think we need to reduce our carbon emissions. In fact, I think I need to stuff something in that hole under the door of our house so that I don't use all that much heating.

Nov 3, 2010

The book of faces

Who remembers the discussion between Jane Fairfax and Mr John Knightley on the subject of letters? In Jane Austen's Emma there's a memorable exchange. Mr John Knightley (the younger Mr Knightley, not the hero of the story) is gently teasing Ms Fairfax, who ventured to the post office in the rain despite her delicate health.

"The post-office has great charm at one period of our lives. When you have lived to my age, you will begin to think letters are never worth going through the rain for."
There was a little blush, and then this answer,
"I must not hope to be ever situated as you are, in the midst of every dearest connection, and therefore I cannot expect that simply growing older should make me indifferent about letters."
"Indifferent! Oh! no - I never conceived you could become indifferent. Letters are no matter of indifference; they are generally a very positive curse."
"You are speaking of letters of business; mine are letters of friendship."
"I have often thought them the worst of the two," replied he coolly. "Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does."
"Ah! you are not serious now. I know Mr. John Knightley too well - I am sure he understands the value of friendship as well as any body. I can easily believe that letters are very little to you, much less than to me, but it is not your being ten years older than myself which makes the difference, it is not age, but situation. You have every body dearest to you always at hand, I, probably, never shall again; and therefore till I have outlived all my affections, a post-office, I think, must always have power to draw me out, in worse weather than to-day."

Lately I've noticed many friends of mine getting upset over this marvel called facebook in a very similar manner as Mr. John Knightley over his letters. I can't get upset. The people who want to get rid of facebook or who think it's a waste of time seem to live at least in the same country as most of their friends. I love every single silly posting of my best friends in Finland.

See, moving out of the country isn't death to family relationships. Those don't disappear nearly as easily as friendships. And so, in order to keep in touch with your friends, what would you do? Write letters, call with skype, send email... only, I never write letters, skype requires two people to be on at the same time which is difficult when the time zones are different, and even email is more often than not left unanswered. What better way to keep in touch than by a social network that shows you your friends' small thoughts - what they ate for dinner, when they are upset, anything they want to post as "status".

So give me your statuses! And comment on mine! I love facebook.

(Oh, election day was yesterday. If you want to hear my thoughts about that, please ask. Otherwise I'll leave it alone.)

Oct 14, 2010

Parent's rights, children's rights

Are you for parent's rights or children's rights?

Sometimes these two seem to be the same thing. Sometimes you can just talk about family values or similar. Surely it's best for the children that the government and everyone else supports parents in their duties in stead of the other way around, right? Right?

Here's the trick, though. All parents don't do what's best for their children. Really. They might think they do, or they just don't think at all. Honestly. I've heard the comments about "who should decide what's best for the children" and I say that sometimes it shouldn't be the parents. And if some parents aren't capable of it then there should be general rules. And that sort of means laws and regulations, and the government dictating at least some things parents can and can't do.

If not the government then who? Those who really want parents to have completely the right to decide over their children's lives need to admit that then there would be no laws against violence against children, or locking them in closets or similar atrocities. Most people feel these things should be forbidden, but are having hard times saying what else could or should be...

I'm for children's rights. I don't know in every case what would be in their best interest. But if parent's rights and children's rights do not meet, I'll go for the children.

Aug 24, 2010


I haven't been able to write all of July and most of August, mainly because I decided not to make this a baby blog. I will only write about MY baby in facebook. However, this creates a problem: what to write when baby is all you think about?

Yesterday I thought once again about aging... The traumas and the joys. I'm not one of those who is worried about aging because it's cool to be young - it's not, in my mind. The older I get the less insecure, uncertain and, in some cases also, less unhappy I become. Compared with ages 25-28 I'm really happy right now. Still, sometimes you feel a moment of unease. I think it has got to do with what you've accomplished in life so far. We create expectations for us, about how life should be, and about what should be done by a certain age. And sometimes our social circles create those expectations - be the circles in a religious community (many expectations there! I'm not saying however that the religions create the expectations, I think it's really the community), academical circles (equally expecting really) or others. I remember feeling really worried when, at 30, I met a former classmate from Junior High, first time in many years. She had a house, a car, a career, a husband and children. I lived in a rental appartment, had no car (didn't really want a house or a car but still), had almost no career, just a job, and not even a boyfriend let alone a husband and children. I felt like at that age I should have at least something from the list.

A close person to me is having a 40-year crisis, mainly I think because her ambitions have not been fulfilled. With musical ambitions she realizes that she is getting too old to reach them. Some ambitions have a time limit, set by the society. You can't act the roles of young women after a certain age. You can't even become an actor...

How about me? Right now I'm pretty satisfied, having reached the one goal I had with a time limit (having a baby). There are others, but they can wait...

Jul 4, 2010

Happy American Independence Day!

In honor of Independence day: I Have a Dream


Those who might not know the history, on August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC. In DC he gave this speech, considered by many to be the greatest show of American rhetoric ever (there are many other legendary speeches too). In comparison to Finnish politics, rhetorics has always held an important place here in the US. I mostly have a sceptic attitude towards great rhetorical talent, since it can be used for any cause... however, since racism and xenophobia are some of my pet peeves, I have made an exception for Martin Luther King. Here he urges people not to give up until actual equality is gained, and (in my ears) to work and live together in peace. King didn't want people to give in to hate despite all the injustice. However, soon after his assassination there were horrible and violent racial riots especially in California. Too much hatred and he was no longer there to convince people that peace was the solution.

The speech transcribed.

Jun 25, 2010

Under the North Star

I've mentioned many times I love my country... as it is. But I think it's funny too in some way, especially the national emotions of shame and melancholy.

Here's something for Midsummer Eve. Kari Tapio singing "Here under the North Star" - old guy, well-known song. Original melody is Italian, but this tells about Finns. My favourite lines:

"On täällä elämä raskasta työtä, ja siinä harvoin on onni myötä. Sen tietää vain yksin suomalainen." Translated: "Life here is heavy work and fortune rarely follows you. Only a Finn will know this."

Here's the youtube version, sorry about not fitting youtube videos in my blog...

Jun 21, 2010

Arizona Arizona

There's been a lot of talk about the new immigration law in Arizona... Some of it is fairly amusing, some interesting and some annoying. I haven't researched the facts very much, so if you know more, please tell me. This is what I've understood so far:

People in Arizona voted for a law that allows the police to check any immigrant's papers to see if they are legally in the US. Problems with the law: how can the police enforce this law without racial profiling which in itself is questionable?

I'm a legal immigrant to the US and when I got my green card status I was told that I need to keep documents on me at all time to be able to prove that I'm legal. I haven't in fact always had my wallet on me - yesterday for instance I went on a walk without it... would I get in trouble if something had happened? Most likely not unless I was very unlucky. You see, I'm white and look like my roots are from northern Europe. Even in Arizona I'd most likely not be harassed. How could a police even suspect that I'm not third or tenth generation American?

What if I looked Latino though? What if I was from New Mexico, tenth generation American and looked like I was Latino, and even spoke Spanish? The proponents of the law were trying to make sure it wouldn't allow for racial profiling, but how else would the police know who to check? The law is clearly meant to reduce the amount of illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America. So what will it do without racial profiling? Will everyone be checked all the time? But I don't think there's any law for American Citizens requiring them to have ID with them at all times - so if they are checked they could be in a similar situation as illegal immigrants - no papers.

The whole situation seems to me very strange...

Jun 6, 2010

No blog...

... it's very hot so don't want to write much. Taught about the book of Ruth today. Realized that the relationship of that book to the book of Judges is similar as Miyazaki's My Neighbour Totoro vs. for instance Pan's labyrinth, or maybe even Gandhi. In one there are some few good people, but mostly evil, and it's scary and horrible but if you suffer through you feel like you've gained something. In the other people are so nice and help each other out that you read the whole book or watch the whole film smiling, and come out with a feeling that the world is after all a beautiful place.

Both have their places I think.

Jun 1, 2010

Continuing the discussion on health care

It seems like there wasn't enough said about health care yet, so let's start a discussion here. Mainly the Finnish system vs the American one. They are very different. In Finland we pay with our tax money so that (hopefully) everyone gets health care by public health care stations and hospitals. Everyone gets a government heath care insurance when they are Finnish. Besides the public options, there are private hospitals and dentists that you can use, and employers often offer work related health care. Terms for this vary a lot, but they are often provided by the private facilities.

Complaints: for public options there may be long lines for different operations. This depends very much on the place. Private options don't get covered by the government insurance (you can get a private one too but people rarely do) unless they're for treatment of a sickness, in which case the insurance covers a part of it. Medication gets partly covered by insurance but can still get fairly expensive.

American system: people get insurance through work, by buying it themselves or through government options (Medicaid for poor, Medicare for elderly, besides these there are options for low-income families' children like CHP+.) These vary very much depending on states. In some states employers give more insurance than in others. Small businesses might not do this. Students in general seem to be covered well by insurances but if they have wives or children the insurance gets fairly expensive.

Without insurance people can still get treatment in emergency rooms. Hospitals pay for this (not sure if the state gives them subsidies - anyone?)

Complaints: Many people still don't have insurance, which they seem to be fine about until they get sick. Having read loads of credit reports in my former job I know that medical bills are a major credit problem across the country. If people are fine with losing their financial credibility this might not be such a problem - nobody goes to prison for unpaid medical bills - but for those who want to pay their bills this will be a major issue, since they tend to be VERY high.

In some states and insurance companies pre-existing conditions might be a reason for not getting insurance. Pregnancy mostly counts as a pre-existing condition, so if you don't have insurance in the beginning you will not be able to give birth without some serious hospital bills, unless you're poor enough to qualify for Medicaid (you have to be poor indeed since I've never qualified.)

In BOTH systems there are always complaints about delays or bad care. I've had to wait for acute care during after-hours both in Finland and the US, and I've sometimes been cared for faster than I'd ever imagined in both countries. In Finland this seems to depend on where you are, and how unlucky with timing (for instance, falling on ice the same day that everyone else does the same...) Also, a friend of mine keeps telling me Tampere has about the worst birthing facilities in the whole country. Bad luck if you have to give birth there (this might have changed, or be changing). In the US it equally seems to depend on place and luck, but of course you might have more of a choice. Unless your insurance, like mine, only covers their own place.

Covered everything important? What do you think?

May 25, 2010

What counts as uncomfortable?

A couple of months ago we had some friends over for dinner, non of them mormons. After dinner we decided to amuse ourselves with Eurovision song contest "worst bits" from the last couple of years. Worst or best... after that we looked up a youtube video on Boney M, who all the Europeans knew but none of the Americans. And then a friend of ours showed a video from last year, Lady Gaga's "Telephone" (with Beyoncé). We're all so ancient that hardly anyone knew about it beforehand... but we were watching the video and everyone was probably a bit in a shock except for the guy who introduced it.

After watching it J, a woman, just bluntly said: That's just porn! And the two other women in the group, D and myself, started laughing because we'd been thinking about the same thing but hadn't wanted to express it. D said: I though I was just so old that I shouldn't say anything...

The funny thing is, Lady Gaga is sometimes marketed as empowering - in fact, this video ends with her and Beyoncé killing a bunch of people in a restaurant because Beyoncé's boyfriend is so annoying. Sure, getting rid of annoying boyfriends can be empowering, but really is it empowering to be dancing in your bra and knickers? Is it empowering for women to take charge of your own sexuality and use it for your advance? Maybe... But I can't help wondering if it doesn't kick back, since although you might feel like a subject doing your burlesque dance or similar, the people watching still objectify you.

Oh, V who showed the video mentioned that this is just normal MTV-style now... really goes to show I'm old. But what kind of image of how a woman should be do the younger generation get? Scary...

Two cool links that go with this story, one of them a song from the '70's feminists in Finland (in Finnish) and another one an Onion-story that I hope everyone will enjoy.

May 11, 2010

Maternity package

When I want to torture myself about living in the US I go and look at the pictures of the maternity package sent to every Finnish woman giving birth. This is not the only benefit you get for having a baby in Finland, but it's the most tangible one. There are researches about the birth rate in Europe, and surprise surprise, the Nordic countries where babies and mothers are supported in every way lead the way. Where Italians have one child or less, Finns are getting to three. I think (but am not sure) that Norwegians might be ahead of that too. Explanations abound, but I think personally, that when getting a child is not really a financial problem (before they get a bit older) it means that those who want to have children can.

America is a different story altogether - people have loads of children compared to Europe, with hardly any benefits. True, there is a tax benefit - but even with that, all the stuff you need to get, the fact that childcare is frighteningly expensive, the fact that you don't get paid for your maternity leave (in some work places you might) and all this makes you really count whether you can afford the baby or not... fortunately, with the American volunteer spirit, friends and family will help out.

But then there are all the American mothers who get babies without planning, without any economical possibilities of taking care of them and so on... I think might have to do with lack of sex ed and also a more negative attitude towards contraception than, say, in Finland. These mothers go to Medicaid for health insurance to cover their labour and oh-oh if they're too "rich" for that. They'd get used clothes for their babies (very sensible I think) and as to childcare, they hope there's a grandmother or aunt who can help out... because they can't afford to take more time off work than a couple of weeks.

After this rant, let me add a list of what the maternity package of 2009 includes (they haven't translated the 2010 package to English yet on Kela's pages, and I'm too lazy to do it myself):

-insulated mittens and booties
-Sleeping bag / quilt
-Knitted hat
-Balaclava hat
-Socks and mittens *2
-Bodysuit *5
-Romper suit *4
-Footed leggings (pants with socks)
-Leggings (pants)
-Knitted overall
-Stretch suit
-Play suit
-Mattress cover
-Under sheet
-Duvet cover
-Bath towel with hood
-Nail scissors
-Bath thermometer
-Cloth nappy set + 2 inserts
-Muslin squares
-Bra pads
-Sanitary towels
-Lubrication gel for parents
-Picture book, 16 pages.
-Box (can be used as crib)

May 7, 2010

The energy problem according to Tuittu

When I was working (volunteering) with the Sierra Club in Minneapolis, I belonged to the Clean Air and Renewable Energy committee. But what kind of sources of energy were we whole-heartedly supporting? I wish these were things that would be easy to solve, but the truth seems to be that with any energy source there are problems. Here are some:

Oil: oil spills, difficulty in getting it out (like in Canada, the oil industry is definitely not clean), will run out eventually, need energy and roads and similar to move it from place to place and accidents happen all the time, causing more spills.

Wood: carbon dioxide into atmosphere, climate change hazard. Also in many places of the world there isn't enough trees as it is. Forests lose their recreation value when trees are cut down (also in Finland!)

Coal: I'm not even starting. There is no clean coal at the moment - all of those carbon capture methods are still being researched and too expensive to use - nobody uses them yet. Not to mention that coal mining has problems at all angles.

Wind: Do we really want to destroy the view in every windy place? Also, in many places of the world there just isn't enough of wind energy (see Finland, for example). Also, the energy needs to be transmitted to the cities somehow and the transmission lines cause problems.

Water: Can't we leave any rivers in their pristine state?

Wave: Don't know much about this, but as far as I know it's not yet economically feasible.

Nuclear: Finns think this is clean for some reason. The problem is, the part that isn't clean (waste) can be buried in rock - but will it stay there? Also, if there's human errors in taking care of a plant we might face another Tsernobyl - but those who are for this power seem to think that this could never happen in Finland.

My favourite source of energy is the one Finns have started to develop from methane in dumps, but apparently it still needs research... The transmission is one problem, the economical factors (like is it worth it) are others. In the end though, I think one of the chairmen of that Sierra Club committee said it best: we need to make energy efficiency sexy again. If we don't learn to save energy no solution we can make will be enough.

Apr 30, 2010

Theory of the day

Today we went to the Mormon temple and I tried to think spiritual thoughts on the way. Here's the theory that I figured out on the way.

Listening to Sibelius and others I realized how just maybe, if the world didn't have sorrow and pain, there might be no music in minor key. Just maybe all music would be in major... and if there was no minor, major wouldn't have much meaning either.

Went on from there to think about our existence before being born here - Mormons believe that all humans lived as spirits with God before coming on earth. I thought, since there really was hardly any opposition there - hardly any sorrow or pain (yes yes, I say hardly because we also believe that some rebelled against God and that should have caused some sorrow and pain) - maybe all the music was in major. And how beauty is actually only understood if opposition to it exists. So, I thought, we must have been excited to experience these things. Even if we didn't really know what it means. Discussion must have gone something like this:

God: I could send you to earth, where you can have aesthetic experiences of different sorts!

We: Yay! (Wait, what's aesthetic experiences? But wants it!)

Hieronymus Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights.

Apr 27, 2010

Xenophobia... the worst disease...

I remember the song from the end of the 90's: Homophobia, the worst disease, you can't love anyone you like in times like these... I was at a writing course and all my friends there were singing it. Not that many of them actually were gay, just wanted to show their support. Or maybe the song just stayed easily in your head.

These days I'm more worried about xenophobia. I belong to the "white" part of humanity, and in practice that means that there are few places in the world where I'd meet with blatant racism. My features are also fairly hard to place, so even if there was a country where Finns were hated or despised (I doubt it), I could just pretend to be something else. Not so for everyone...

Xenophobia means fear of the stranger and it has existed forever. Seems to be a very human trait. One of the ugly ones, I think. We humans can mostly deal with the stranger who comes and blends in, thereby becoming "one of us". What is really difficult to deal with is the stranger who comes to our area but keeps his own language and culture. At times this has been the problem with Jews (always keeping their own culture and religion even in the middle of severe persecution) and the Roma (gypsies, also staying separate with their own culture and sometimes language). These days there are new groups. Americans are worried about the Latino that might not speak English - the worry seems to be that then the grand children of the English speakers will speak Spanish. Europeans are worried about different ethnic groups, mostly from Africa, and Australians want to make sure their boundaries stay closed enough so that not everyone from Indonesia and other areas in Southeast Asia can come in.

Maybe xenophobia stems from real worries? The history of mankind shows how peoples and languages move and push away what used to be somewhere. The Finns came from somewhere and pushed the Same living in the area to the inhospitable north - and even there the Same could not keep their language and culture in peace.

So do Finns think that the Somali will eventually do the same to them? Is this the under conscious fear? Do the Americans worry that the English language culture and white skin colour will become a despised scarcity?

I'm not sure, but what I am sure about - as an idealist - is, that we need to face our phobia and deal with it. We need to face the Stranger in his own culture and on his terms and understand before we can deal with the fear. Maybe then we will see what part is the Stranger and what part we have in common, as humans... Once we see clearly, maybe we can talk about immigration with actual sense.

Apr 15, 2010

"Contemporary Art"

When Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, was built, reactions varied from outrage to enthusiasm, but most prevalent was the outrage. I've understood that this is the case almost every time a new museum is built for contemporary art. Reasons vary: people don't like to architecture, people are upset that money is used to house contemporary art, people like more old style... All of this proves in my mind that contemporary art is still doing its job - making people think.

My sister refuses to visit Kiasma, because according to her, she doesn't like "contemporary art". I'm using quotation marks because I think the concept is in itself interesting and definitely not very clear. Does she hate it all? Does she have an idea of what all "contemporary art" is like?

There is some "contemporary art" that I don't like. We visited an international art exhibition in Kassel - Documenta - in 2007 with my husband (art historian with specialisation in contemporary art)and there was one painter who I really hated, Juan Davila. I won't torture you by posting photos here. Interesting is that the format was very traditional - oil on canvas. The paintings seemed to radiate hatred and violence, sexual violence and just blood and gore. Don't take your children to an exhibition of his works.

On the beautiful side, we were in New York in 2008 and visited MoMA and PS1 with an exhibition of my current absolute favourite artist, Olafur Eliasson. Where sometimes "contemporary art" makes people frown and look serious, entering the room with the mirror on the roof, or the round room with lighted wall seemed to make people smile and be happy. Most of the work had to do with light, but he had also intricate little things (husband decided to call them polygonic sculptures) that delighted me, and a wall full of photos from the rugged shores of Iceland (one might be cliche, a whole wall full made it really interesting).

Of course, Eliasson manages also to cause distress in a true artistic tradition. He built (well, not alone) several waterfalls in the East River in NYC, which made people worry about the salt water's impact on plants... I didn't see the big waterfalls, but I saw a small upside-down waterfall in his exhibition. The sound of water and the strange direction it was flowing in made me happy.

Recommended for adults, children and teenagers: Olafur Eliasson.

Apr 13, 2010


... where does it come from?

A friend of mine has lived nearly 15 years in America and just recently posted a status on facebook saying that she's homesick. Homesick for what? Finland.

I just got a horrible bout of homesickness - I'm extremely happy and excited for my husband who got a tenure track in upstate New York, but I'm wondering if that means we won't ever move back to Finland. Or at least not before getting retired. That would mean that I should somehow get used to the idea that I'm not living in the US only for a couple of years, but that this is my home. As I noticed in my friend's status, it's not easy to do for all of us.

Some enjoy it in a different country. I think it might be a question about embracing versus resistance. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as to say "OK, I won't resist, I'll embrace in stead" - if you're in the resistance mode your mind will resist that though!

My strategy so far has been (hate to admit this) to think that it's temporary - that maybe in some years we could move back to Europe at least. That would be closer and more familiar. And I don't only mean closer to family and old friends, although of course I miss them. I miss the familiar culture even more, strange to say. And the familiar geography and all that.

Most Finns wouldn't even consider moving to another country. We love ours. Some love to move and adopt a new culture, but I'd say they are in a minority. Once I got a fantastic glimpse into another culture's love for the country. I was in Minneapolis, talking with a really nice Somalian man (co-worker) about homesickness. I thought he'd understand and so I asked: Do you miss Somalia? He said: Yes. I think about it every day. But I can't go back.

We all know why Somalians can't go back: death and destruction, no functioning government. Imagine if scores and scores of Finland-loving people had to move out because we had a civil war or some other disaster. Imagine if you couldn't go back.

Apr 10, 2010

Good policemen

I'll wait to write the eagerly anticipated blogs about beautiful art and other things until voting is over... Today just a small blog about a beautiful sentence in some sad news.

Apparently the protests in Bangkok are worse. Earlier today people died, both policemen and protesters and a Japanese cameraman. The police has decided to pull back from the areas where the protesters dominate. Violence, violence.

However, Helsingin Sanomat included this sentence: "Thaimaan puolustusministerin mukaan mitään ei ole tehtävissä, koska sotilaat eivät halua ampua mielenosoittajia." In English, according to the Defence Minister of Thailand there is nothing to be done, since the policemen don't want to shoot the protesters.

If the police and the army refused to take weapons against citizens... What a wonderful world this could be...

Apr 5, 2010

Healthcare rant goes on and on...

Apparently, according to some friends of mine, the health care debate should be renamed to health care rant. True enough. Many people have good opinions in one direction or another, and many have explained and discussed these opinions with great intelligence. That could be called health care debate. However, most people who talk, write or rage about the reform are doing so with no logic, with no reason and with scary threats...

I listened to the Mormon General Conference (or at least a little part of it) and made especially note about the talk by one of the authorities, elder Cook. I could have sworn he spoke about politics, emphasizing how we should stay courteous even if we have strong opinions. "It is OK to disagree, but it's not OK to be disagreeable", he said. And he mentioned how violence and vandalism aren't the answer to anything.

So what has this to do with the health care "debate"? Elder Cook would most likely be on the opposite side from me politically (most Mormons are republican), but this "debate" has caused the FBI to have to take steps to protect seriously threatened congressmen - some of them not even very active with the whole reform.

I recently read an interesting op-ed column (NY Times) about the whole mess, "The Rage Is Not About Health Care". I tend to agree. The changes to current practice aren't all that radical... and they certainly shouldn't cause make "a congressman to shout “baby killer” at Bart Stupak, a staunch anti-abortion Democrat" or allow "a demonstrator to spit on Emanuel Cleaver, a black representative from Missouri." (Quotes from above article.)

The writer feels that the issue, since it's not the bill, is president Obama, or more widely, the changing face of the US. It's becoming more and more multi-cultural, or indeed, multi-colored and multilingual, and this feels like a threat to the average tea-partyist. I don't know if I agree. Yes, the issue certainly is Obama, but I'd like to think that it's the old fear of communism poking from the soul of the Americans. Obama isn't a communist - nobody knows this better than me - but he's been sold to the right-wing public as a socialist (he isn't a true socialist either!) which amounts to the same thing here in the Land of the Free. Just dig a bit and the old McCarthyism will spring out...

Mar 31, 2010


This Sunday we decided to go all Utah and make a jello salad. For those who don't know, jello salad is jello with fruits in it. In Utah you can also add shredded carrots. It's eaten with Cool Whip, sort of a whipping cream substitute. The part that made us excited was that there is hardly any basic ingredients in the whole food, it's super sweet and in Utah it's despite all this often served not as dessert but as salad. As far as I've understood it all. Young girls learn to make the jello from package, mix in some fruits and vegetables (yak for the last) and spread Cool Whip on top. We had some guests that we already had prepared by telling them about the least "natural" of all dishes, so when they saw it they were very impressed. All the guests are more, how should I say it, European style cooks - use fresh vegetables and basic ingredients in all their cooking. So are we, mostly.

Jello salad was good (we didn't add shredded carrots) - how could it not be with all that sugar? In fact, I shouldn't say sugar, since I think both jello and cool whip are sweetened of course with high fructose corn syrup. This very far processed sweetener turns up everywhere here in the US. We will all be mostly corn after a couple of years of eating it in everything.

I have missed most of the ready made box foods (or canned foods) in the US, but I'm one of the few. In fact, some children (young for sure) don't recognize fresh vegetables when they see it... There's a funny show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, that follows a british chef trying to help children eat healthy foods in West Virginia - see the trailer here.

In Finland they used to have a list of so called "added ingredients" in food, meaning salt and all that extra stuff that is added for texture, colour, preserving and such. They removed them at some point (maybe because of an EU decision?) so now you just look at the amount of ingredients in anything you buy. What would jello salad show?

I don't really believe that children only like to eat unhealthy foods. A friend family of mine, the Eppels, taught me that. Yes, children are often picky if they don't know what they eat. But even I myself, the pickiest child in our family, ate raw fresh vegetables (although never cooked ones). If you set veggies out on the table so they look cute (bento box style) and separate from other veggies, and don't cook them all mushy, most children seem to eat at least some favourites. (Although with kids I think you don't get any guarantees...)

But surely, although children can be picky, adults could eat real food even in America...?

Mar 25, 2010


Everybody knows this feeling: getting tired after reading (or watching or listening to) news. Just now I would like to move to another universe.

Today in Helsingin Sanomat, good news: the two grandmothers won't be sent back to Egypt and Russia respectively, since the police is expecting the laws in the matter to change. The sad parts: According to Finnish law, grandparents don't belong to the near family. Therefore they can't be brought to or stay in the country (Finland) where the family lives. The concept of family will not be changed in the law but the humane factors will be emphasized so that the courts will have more room to maneuver. Also sad: Many Finns are worried about all the grandparents who might now flock to Finland to use our health care. Inhumane attitude in my mind.

Neutral news: The asylum seekers coming from other EU countries will be swiftly shown the door according to new law. Good side: hopefully there will be more chances to help those who actually need help. Sad part: Not everyone everywhere in EU have humane living conditions. Check out the situation of the Roma people in Romania, for instance.

Made me very tired: The Internet version of Helsingin Sanomat shows all the recent news as a long list where I normally scan for interesting stuff. Unfortunately, about a third (!) of these news concern sports. Please, dear Helsingin Sanomat web page designers, could I check my news somehow without that? Also, the comments under the news are so xenophobic that they make me sad. Could you hide them somehow?

Mar 21, 2010

22 votes?

I'm impressed. When I started the blog I thought that I could just bury it if it seems too tiresome, but with these scores of people I might have to keep it up for a while.

I didn't make a question about whether I should write more about interesting stuff like babies. But fortunately there are enough baby- and family related blogs in the world. Sometimes I just press the "next blog" button and check what comes up. Children and families, every time. Maybe because everyone moves so much that their loved ones and friends can't keep up any other way?

Since shorter blogs were asked I'll do this supershort. But as a last random question for the beginning of this week (for anyone who wants to sit and think): does Santa Claus really exist? I say he does. Do myths exist? I say they do.

Mar 18, 2010

Very affirmative

Today I heard on the radio how someone was ranting about how the media contributes to the feeling of inferiority of African Americans – in fact I think they used the word “brainwash”. As a hopeful future champion for equal rights I wanted to comment on it. I think the word “brainwash” might be a bit too strong, since I doubt it's actually a conspiracy – more a question of unrealized attitudes of whites and blacks alike. Media does influence the way we look at the world, of course. The imagery we see in advertisements and news will change the way we see the people around us. If we always see black people as laborers, nurses and bus drivers in ads, and white people as doctors, politicians and actors, what will we think? Or, and this I was thinking this morning, what will the little black kids looking at the ads think, of their future and goals? And the news – if we always see more black criminals than white (I won't say if this is a “true” representation of the US or not, since the concept “true representation” is in itself always a bit clouded) what will we or our kids think of these skin colors?

Of course, the world isn't that simple in the US. There are African Americans and first generation Africans (and within this group the subgroup of Somalis, at least in Minneapolis), there are Asian and Arabian born people, and the big group that are without any separation called Latinos, or Hispanic. And another group in themselves are the children adopted to a “white” family, therefore culturally completely “white” but looking different from their so-called peers. All of these groups have their own problems... and also need attention in different ways.

But for the purpose of this blog (trying to keep it short) I wish there were a bit more black professors, actors, doctors and writers represented in the media. If the baby growing in my womb was black (hardly any chance, I know, seeing as we're both nearly transparent) I'd want to surround it with pictures that gave it role models and possibilities that were as near to its own skin color as possible. In fact, I'd look for a black Jesus. I wouldn't want the child to think “I want to be white like Jesus”.

Mar 12, 2010

Shorter rant about healthcare

I don't even want to listen to the news anymore. I'm so tired at how it seems impossible to make a legislation that would allow everyone in the US to have some decent health insurance. I blame mostly the two-party system - since there are only two big parties that can be counted they tend to define themselves as the opposite to the other (not quite and not everything of course). So then when one tries to do something the other can always say that this proposition stands for all that we hate. This applies to both parties equally...

I guess normally it's no big deal but right now I'm worried for a lot of people who would need this legislation. There is a friend who is graduating and doesn't know about a job - and she's had a lot of health problems so she really has no chance to get insurance privately. I was in a similarly interesting situation last year - I had insurance, privately bought since I was working for a temp agency and their insurance sucked - but this insurance would not have covered labour. Only prenatal care. We were too "rich" for Medicaid (almost anyone is) and therefore, if I had gotten pregnant, could have faced about $10,000 if c-section had been needed. How can people afford to live in America without good jobs that give them good coverage? And yet, many don't have those good jobs. In my last job I saw enough credit reports with horrible medical bills - and often sad stories behind. In fact it was so common that it was already an accepted explanation for bad credit scores: got sick, lost my job, couldn't pay the doctor's bills. True, people can leave them unpaid and just face economical disgrace, low credit scores and still not die - but I don't see that as an attractive alternative, and I'm not the only one.

So how can it be that this rich country can't get this thing done? Politics. Nobody will just swallow a bitter pill and support something - everyone, in both parties, is performing for their voters: "See, I won't give in, see!"

Mar 8, 2010

Feminism - happy Women's Day!

It's probably appropriate to write about my stance on feminism on International Women's Day. This is what my oldest sister wrote on facebook today: “Ponders where I went wrong, as my daughter spent the eve of International Woman's Day finishing her essay about feminism. Her conclusions included that maybe the feminists really believe what they are saying but that they really aren't needed anymore... ARGHHHH...”

Is feminism still needed? My oldest sister would surely think so, since she's very ambitious and has run into the difficulty of getting ahead in her career (in a very male-dominated field) because of her gender. My middle sister denies being feminist although I'm guessing that she would strongly protest against blatant discrimination if she faced it. I on the other hand have a bit of a different stance than either one of them – maybe due to my circumstances. Having studied philosophy and women's studies I see a couple major problems, and I feel that to address those we still need feminism.

First, a clear and physical thing: violence against women. Violence in any form is a dreadful thing, and in so many countries in the world women are completely helpless in the midst of war and turmoil, victims at all times, never able to decide over how their body is used. So is this only a problem of Third World countries that are at war? No, unfortunately. Even in Finland violence in relationships is so common that explanations are needed – over 30% of Finnish women have during the last five years experienced either physical or sexual violence, threat of violence or similar (http://www.stat.fi/tup/tietoaika/tilaajat/ta_10_01_naisvakiv.html). There are theories about how this is possible in a country like Finland – for instance that women are so much more verbal and under verbal abuse a man retorts with violence – but none of the theories or explanations can explain away that this is a disgrace. With these numbers, how can we say that women don't need champions anymore – and why couldn't we call those champions feminists?

I'm not going to talk about the situation of women in non-western countries, since there are always problems when western women tell others how women should live. I would prefer the intellectuals and wise women of those countries to decide for themselves what the rights of women are and what feminism could do for them.

My second issue has more to do with equal respect and is a more difficult issue. In this I often run into conflicts with other so-called feminists. During my studies of philosophy I read a lot of Luce Irigaray, and from those writings developed a feminism of my own. (I don't want to credit this to Irigaray, since I can't remember everything anymore and so have mixed my own ideas with hers.) The main point is that women have through the ages been defined by men as their opposite, and often as the weaker opposite. Women, since they haven't had a chance to express themselves in public, have been made the mirror. I want to see women's own attempts to define themselves – and it's not easy, because all women won't really agree on anything, but why should they? In order to do this there needs to be friendship between women, love between mothers and daughters and less of a competitive atmosphere. And one thing that really shows the difficulty of the task is the disrespect and even sneering at qualities traditionally seen as female. Don't get me wrong, I don't want any of the respect that lifts women on pedestals and leaves them there while men go do other things. I think that part of the reason for not respecting women (and not respecting ourselves) is because compassion is valued less than aggression, that careful driving is silly and aggressive driving better and so on.

As a result, women shun those qualities they might see in their mothers and try to achieve those they see in their fathers (obviously not always the case) – and, in my mind, think that male is better than female and therefore want to become male and forget about the female. Sure, this female might only be a mirror of the male and therefore not real at all – but if we in our hatred turn to the male, what becomes of the female? There will never be such a thing as the female defined by women. Something could be permanently lost from the world.

Finally, Julia Kristeva, philosopher and psychoanalyst, was once asked why she doesn't call herself a feminist, and she answered that feminism is a project for “all women” and that “all women” doesn't even exist. I would still not discard the concept feminism. I would like it to become a concept of plurality – feminisms – and no group should be in the right to define it so that it leaves outside anyone who champions for women, for the feminine, for their equality or for their difference.

Mar 4, 2010

Mormon in love with Rayonnant Gothic

Today I sat in on a lecture on late Gothic style, very pleased since we were talking about my favorite style, Rayonnant Gothic, and my favorite building in the whole world, Sainte Chapelle in Paris. I remember the first time I saw it. The lower level was beautiful in itself, but when you climb up the stairs to the higher level, oh... The teacher today said “if you don't get some kind of 'wow'-reaction when seeing Sainte Chapelle then there's something wrong with you.”

There was a long discussion on my facebook page about how to deal with the challenge when your sense of esthetics differs seriously from the mainstream in your religion. All this was triggered by an email from a friend where she was wondering how often people choose a religion that does respond to one's own sense, and how those, who have found their religion through some other way, deal with it. They clearly do. I mean, I do. Most of my Finnish friends (the discussion was in Finnish) seemed to think that esthetic experiences are different from spiritual experiences, and therefore they are able to separate these two things. There were some other voices too, however. And I myself have been lately wondering how separate they really are...

Take church videos, for example. Mormon liturgy (Sunday meetings) are made fairly simple, pictures are not used and during the sacrament (communion) there is no music playing, apparently so that people could have a connection with God that wasn't influenced by esthetic experience. This would point to spiritual and esthetic experiences being separate. However, when helping others convert (I'm not discussing here whether that is possible, that's another thing) members are often encouraged to use basically esthetic experiences – using videos or music is considered effective ways to help others feel the Holy Spirit. So, here they are tied? And to be honest, some of my spiritual experiences have been linked to music – but always to music that I love, not “mormon music”.

Does this cause trouble? Yes it does, to me at least and to many others who have a strong sense of esthetics (whatever that is). I remember a time when my home ward in Helsinki was encouraging everyone to bring friends to see a new church movie. This was supposed to be a great missionary effort. I normally try to do what my ward leaders ask me to do – their job is not easy so try to make it a bit easier by cooperating – but this was impossible. I knew I wouldn't like the video and I knew any of my friends – mostly friends through different arts – would feel the same. I don't know if anyone was bothered by my rebellion except for myself, but I didn't want to rebel – just had a different view of esthetics.

Sometimes, when I look at Sainte Chapelle and get tears in my eyes just because it is beautiful, or when on Sunday morning I listen to old (medieval or baroque) spiritual music from the radio, I get a little sad. I'm a mormon and wouldn't want to be anything else, but I wish I could get unified spiritual and esthetic experiences through my religion. As it is, I need to seek them elsewhere. There are moments when I'm set as a rebel (if only silently) although I don't have any issue with faith or doctrine – only with esthetics.

Mar 1, 2010

Emigration, immigration

Today, as often, I'm thinking about how on earth I ended up here. Sometimes I just look around and marvel. Not specifically how I ended up in Denver, but how I ended up moving to the United States, where I never ever in my life planned to move – I wasn't even all that excited to travel here. After having spent a year and a half on a mission in Georgia I thought I'd seen as much of the US as I needed to see and would hereafter travel to other, more interesting places. (Yes I know, Americans will say there is a lot more to the US that Georgia and that it's not a good example anyway... Sorry to say, an European knows that even Georgia and Alaska have more in common than, say, Finland and Sweden, so despite the variety in the US, the uniformity is a bigger thing in my eyes. This not counting in the nature of course, which is very varied.)

It's a strange thing, emigrating from your country. Some move with joy to wider spaces, some move with interest but can never truly feel at home. Even stranger it is if you end up moving to one of those countries that you really don't like or that don't interest you. I moved because of love – and because my husband had more of a chance for a career in the US than in Finland at the time. (My career couldn't be taken into account since honestly there was none and is none.)

Away from Finland, I've noticed strange national romantic feelings arising. In fact, since I've lived away before, I knew that when I haven't seen my native soil for months, suddenly I get all weepy eyed from national romantic poetry or songs or anything that evokes “Finnishness”. And, funnily, I tend to laugh at the same stuff when I'm in Finland. I haven't noticed this reaction in all Americans who end up in another country, not my husband for sure, but sometimes you notice young missionaries for instance being weepy eyed over peanut butter or even Hershey's chocolate (no reason for that I think, the stuff is horrible).

It's different though if you move from a small country with a very self-satisfied but isolated culture to a bigger one, that exports culture and can even be seen as a cultural threat. I think there is a sense of having betrayed your country. This is especially the case with mormons who end up moving to America to marry an American man. When I was planning on my move I talked with a lady, a friend of mine, and she said with clear disappointment in her voice: “I would have thought that you at least would have stayed...” - a real you too Brutus comment. This comes from the fact that so many promising mormons move to the US, either because they genuinely like the culture, because it's difficult to be a small religious minority, or because they want to find a soul mate who is also mormon and can't find that in Finland with only 4000 members. Ok, so it's not easy, but by moving you give up and make it even more difficult for the ones that stay, since there's one less. And these feelings are always in the back of the mind of the emigrant. When you visit, even if your friends are still your friends, they will have gone on and you are no longer one of them.

The photo I chose is from Hanko, where lots of emigrants sailed from to find new life in America, a hundred years ago and more. One of those emigrants happened to be my grandfather's father (although I don't know where he sailed from) and his brothers. He left his (ex?)wife and child here and went off to find a new and happy life in the land of plenty. Betrayal. Am I following in those footsteps in some sense?

Feb 25, 2010

Rant about online discussion

What is it that makes discussion boards and comment pages on online newspapers the most stupid, impolite and moronic forums in the world? Do you remember the time when, if you wanted to comment on something in a newspaper, you had to write your comment on paper, give an opinion and defend it smartly, send it off by mail (paying for postage) compete with other opinions that came to the newspaper and, if you got lucky, you got published as one of the about ten comments in the next possible paper? Those were the days. Reading the opinion pages those days you might come to the conclusion that people are smart, thinking beings who can rationally argue for their opinions...

Helsingin Sanomat, Finlands biggest and most influential newspaper, has an online version where for any story you can start a discussion or take part in one. Unfortunately, when you read the news, you'll also see the first comment posted about it. Oh the scary truths these comments reveal you about mankind! I admit that some of these comments can be well argumented and interesting, but that is not the case for most. Almost anything gets published since there is space. And, since you don't have to publish your real name, people don't feel any restraints in expressing their opinions. Interestingly enough, almost any news story can be used to post so called "immigration critique" - perhaps not quite racist opinions (since the people who post these equally hate Russians who really don't differ from the skin colour of Finns), but definitely xenophobic. Apparently the current immigration minister in Finland has become the most hated person on all discussion boards, all for her compassionate and humane opinions on refugees and immigrants to Finland. And lately there's been an interesting discussion going on about whether the city of Helsinki did badly when deciding that once a week every school child will be offered a vegetarian meal. The hate! Those vegetarians get to decide over my child! The common thing in these writings seems to be the hate, hating those who are different from me and needing to publish it for everyone to see - just not with my own name.

This is not only a Finnish problem. Admittedly, the New York Times sported a very sensible opinion- and comment page, so I went to the local paper: the Denver Post. Sure enough, in those opinions you can see the same hallmarks as in the Finnish ones: xenophobia, hate, offensive language (not cursing, mind you, just personally offensive). My favourite was someone worrying about the Mexican immigration - she called it "invasion and colonialism of America".

I really wish newspapers at least would start requiring people to write with their own name. I'm sure that would not completely solve the problem, but at least it might help. It seems to me that more discussion (as in, more space for everyone's comments and more possibilities to engage everyone) does not lead to better solutions anyway...

Feb 23, 2010

Stephenie Meyer and feminism

Need to practice my English spelling again. I mentioned I wanted to start a blog because of a rant on Stephenie Meyer. Here it is.

I actually find the books very entertaining, but that is not my point today. I also don't think they're great literature. Anyone who criticizes them for their literary qualities is free to do so, as long as they keep in mind the genre and don't mix these books with adults books. But there are two pieces of critique that really annoy me. Both are from so-called feminists. I'm not even going to start with how it annoys me that some "group" (not homogeneous, and definitely not organized, I admit) feels they can define the word and leave out lots of "feminisms" that just don't fit in the definitions... digressing, sorry.

The first critique has got to do with the whole series and concerns mainly the fact that the main character, Bella, is always the victim and needs to be rescued by handsome Edward, who is a superhero really. Sure, we've seen this and it can be amusing - but wasn't this discussion over with already in the 1970's? And does that mean that after that time all novels for youth have to count that the girl rescues the boy equal amount of times? Politically correct teen romance? Sounds boring to me. In this case, I think Meyer (independent of her own opinions) is a victim of her scenario: vampires are supposed to be completely superior to humans. But Edwards sister carries Bella in her arms also - did you notice? And clearly this scenario bothers Bella. She says to Edward somewhere how she feels that a relationship should be equal - both saving both. I'm still not saying anything about Meyer's own views, for good reasons as will be pointed out.

So basically, critics say that this scenario is forbidden and that it gives the girls reading it a bad role model. Maybe - but how educational and politically correct does teen literature have to be?

Second critique concerns the pro-life message in the last book. This annoys me even more, for here critics have completely forgotten how a literary critique should be made. Remember Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert? Flaubert had to defend his book in court, because apparently (I never finished it but this is what I'm told) the book contains a scene where Madam Bovary, after having cheated on her husband, looks in the mirror. The book says something like "she was beautiful". The accusation went that Flaubert thereby said that if a woman cheats on her husband she will be beautiful. This is however not what Flaubert thought - it's what Madame Bovary thought. With Meyer the morale is opposite (typical of that time and ours) but the case is similar. Bella would rather die herself than let anybody do abortion - but is Meyer saying this? No, Bella is. She's a pretty self-sacrificing person all the time. Tries to get herself killed for others in every one of the books I think. So obviously that happened with the baby too. Again, Meyer might feel the same - many first novels are partly based on the personality or life of the writer - but we can't know that, and we should definitely not read that as a message in a book - or then we should again only write educational books where the main character is completely politically correct and a great role model for all younge ladies and gentlemen...

I think part of the critique comes from the fact that Meyer turns out to be a mormon and we are known to frown on abortion. However, being a mormon, I know for a fact that the church will be ok with an abortion when the life of the mother is at stake - which it is here. But is raises an interesting question about the status of a mormon writer - which I'll maybe discuss in another entry.

Feb 22, 2010

Today's rant

Poor husband. Since I always have something to rant on, and since he's the closest one, he has to listen to Theory I or Rant-On-Things-I-Really-Hate every day. He must be exhausted. To prove thisread following: I was laughing about a month ago when he wrote on his friends blog "It's cute how you think someone cares" - this seems to be his general thought about blogs. But today I was ranting about the criticism on Stephenie Meyer for some reason, and he said I should write a blog. A question arises: since nobody probably cares, why on earth should I write a blog? To save his ears?

I've thought about writing a blog earlier, mind you, as an immigrant to the United States - not at all a willing immigrant in fact - and as a Finn among Americans. Of course, thinking about it, there are many more things to comment on... Nobody identifies themselves only with their nationality, but there are many more things. So one by one I'll try to write about those Things.

Starting today. Today's Thing: Why write a blog in a world where too many blogs don't have any reason to exist. (Oh, I have no good answer...)