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.

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.