Wuhan Diary #24: The 28th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 19, 2020

February 19th, the 28th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Today was to be the Wuhan and the China premiere of the The Lion King Broadway

The Lion King had planned to open in Wuhan

musical. I’d been looking forward to it for a long time. Looking back at how I waited in line for a chance to nab a prime seat, I still feel a bit dazed.

The show has already announced it ticket return policy, but I still want to wait to see if they’ll just postpone the show. If they do, I’ll exchange the ticket instead. If nothing else, I don’t want to just my ticket to be discarded. It too is sort of a witness to history.

The Good Doctor, an American TV show I love, in its first season tells a story of a patient, a porn actress attending college, who sought treatment for pain in her genitalia. The normal treatment would affected her nervous system and prevented her from ever having another orgasm. The doctors in the show worked hard on the problem and found solutions that preserved her sense of feeling.

I thought of this story while watching recent news. Talking about orgasms, even a sex worker’s orgasms, is far from the kind of topic that women in Mainland Chinese are willing to discuss.

For women here, talking about menstruation and sanitary pads in public is shameful. When volunteers brought period underwear and pads they had bought for female medical workers to hospitals here, the hospital director would always turn them down saying, “We don’t need it it”.

Female medical workers from Gansu about to be sent to Hubei have their heads shaved in controversial propaganda video.

Here female medical workers had their long hair shaved off in front of cameras. It looked like they were walking towards their execution. The lens focused on their faces to capture their sorrowful, almost tearful expression, for the sake of making video propaganda materials so that “the combined will of the masses will build a mighty fortress” and for “the fight against the epidemic”.

In fact, female medical workers are not the only people being used as propaganda props. It happens to many ordinary people living in epidemic areas too.

Now that supermarkets no longer allow individual customers to enter, many communities have organized group purchases of supplies. Most groups buy groceries and a few buy household products. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a group for buying period pads even though women in my local WeChat group every day discussing with other women where they can buy sanitary pads.

If female medical workers were the only group being neglected, then we could blame the people in power for their lack of empathy. The absence of feminine products from the daily group purchase orders, however, shows that ignoring womens’ is the norm. There are even women among the people who go along with this norm.

This expenditure of the energy and the lives of female medical workers, intended as a sacrificial offering to power, has aroused much criticism and anger in Mainland China. I believe, however, that neglecting women’s needs when purchasing daily necessities is more typical.

Especially these days, when advocates of “women’s rights” are maliciously slandered and discredited inside China’s Great Internet Firewall a woman who naturally and gracefully states her needs on something as simple as this encounters obstacle after obstacle. This is clearly not a so-called “women’s rights” issue. This is a human rights issue!

Takeshi Kitano, a Japanese filmmaker whom I admire, once said: “A disaster is not one n event that kills twenty thousand people; it is one event that kills a human being that happens twenty thousand times”. He reminds us that we need to take a human-centered approach stressing human empathy and understanding. We need to focus on the people involved rather than on the narrative about the event.

This news item impressed me. The Guizhou provincial government provided care kits to its medical aid team in Hubei. There were electric blankets, thermos mugs, thermal underwear, shampoo, body wash, hair dryers, nail clippers, and even two different kinds of slippers (cotton and shower slippers), as well as feminine products, such as sanitary pads. The Governor of the Guizhou Province is a woman.

I am very grateful that we have this kind of leader. However, that you have to hope for good results merely based on the luck of the draw — whether the leaders concerned are capable and are of good moral character — is a great tragedy.

A nurse friend told me a story. Her good friend is a nurse in the ICU where some patients would deliberately cough and yawn towards the nurses.

A classmate told me that her uncle still refuses to wear a face mask while strolling down the street or when he plays mahjong. My classmate’s mother calls her little brother every day, trying her best to persuade him. She gets into fierce arguments with him but it doesn’t get anywhere with him. My classmate had to report to the Mayor’s Hotline where her uncle plays mahjong.

A community worker friend told me about an old man there. No matter how much he tries to convince him to stay inside, the old man won’t listen to him. He keeps arguing with community workers and even spits at them.

My home faces the main road leading out of our community. Even today I can still see grandfathers and grandmothers walking around with a face mask on.

I have seen many videos online in which police take away pedestrians who did not wear face masks and ignored warnings.

I feel very conflicted. I used to that that reporting on one’s own uncle would be an “inhumane” and shameful thing to do. I would have considered that police action to be barbaric, violent and a violation of human rights. But now that I have been caged by the virus, when those of us who obey the rules lose our freedom in a kind of “indefinitely long prison sentence” because of the action of those who disobey the rules, deep in my heart I do wish that there were “another way” and “a force to compel compliance” that would make them obey the rules.

I do not want to be a hypocrite advocating for strong man rule. I just don’t know where to draw the line. Perhaps this is fundamentally a question that I cannot answer. Perhaps the bottom line is that I don’t have the right to draw that line.

I ordered a Harry Potter-themed Golden Snitch cat burglar pendant at the end of last year. The shop assistant told me that the order arrived today and asked me to pick it up once the epidemic is over.

It was supposed to be my New Year’s present to myself. This year it may turn out to be a midyear gift. Nevertheless, being alive and expecting something beautiful is a wonderful thing.

Chinese text

2月19日 武汉封城第28天

今天原本是我期待很久的百老汇原版音乐剧The Lion King武汉首演的日子,也是全国首演,想当初我是守着开票时间抢了最心仪的位置,现在还有点恍惚的感觉。

我很喜欢的一部美剧The Good Doctor,第一季中有一个故事,病人是一个演色情片的大学女生,阴部病变,按照常规的、最直接的治疗方案可能因为影响神经而导致她永远失去高潮的感觉,而这部电视剧里医生们花了很多心思来保全她的感官。



我在去年年底预订了一件Harry Potter的小飞贼吊坠,专柜销售员今天联系我已经到货了,疫情结束后可以去店里拿。

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
This entry was posted in Health 健康, Law 法律, Media 媒体, Politics 政治, Society 社会 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.