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。
演出的退票政策已经出来了,但我还是想等等看延期演出的情况,如果可以就直接换票。也希望手里这张票不必损毁作废,这也是一种历史的见证。

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。
我在看最近的新闻时突然想起这段剧情,谈论高潮,甚至是性工作者的高潮,这样的话题对于大陆女性还是一个太太太过遥远的话题,在这里女性公开谈论月经、卫生巾都会充满耻感,在这里志愿者们把为女性医护人员采购的安全裤和卫生巾送到医院都会被院领导拒绝“我们不需要”,在这里长头发的女性医护人员如行刑一般被当众剃光头发,镜头会直接怼在她们面前采集她们悲伤欲泣的表情,作为宣传“众志成城”“抗击疫情”的素材。
事实上,正在遭遇这些尴尬的不仅是作为宣传工具的女性医护人员,还有很多身处疫区的普通人。最近超市不再允许个人顾客进入,越来越多的社区开始组织团购,我注意到团购的主要商品是蔬菜食品,此外也有少量的日用产品,可惜我至今没有看到有哪一个团购里包含卫生巾,与此同时我每天都能在本地群里看到女孩子们互相打听哪里可以买到卫生巾。
如果说关于医护人员的新闻里,那些掌握话语权的“领导”“媒体”可能只是一种缺乏同理心的权力的惯性思维,那么当你看到这些日常物资采购中也在忽视女性用品的需求,就能知道,漠视女性,这根本就是“主流”,甚至这些主流人群中,也包含女性在内。
对女性医护人员的消费,本质上是一场向权力的献祭,现在已经引起了内地民间的广泛质疑和愤怒。而在日常生活物资采购中对女性需求的忽视,我想更能代表一种主流的现状。尤其是“女权”在墙内被恶意抹黑的现在,女性自然、大方地说出自己的需求,如此简单的事情也被设置了重重障碍……这明明不是“女权”,仅仅只是“人权”啊。

我很喜欢的日本导演北野武曾说“灾难并不是死了两万人这样一件事,而是死了一个人这件事,发生了两万次”,我想,这句话是告诉人们站在“人”的角度去理解和共情,而不是把人当作宏大叙事的背景。
这里,也有该记下的另一笔。看到新闻里说,贵州政府为本地援助湖北的医疗队提供了暖心包,有电热毯、保温杯、保暖内衣、洗发水、沐浴露、吹风机、指甲钳,连拖鞋都准备了两双(棉拖鞋和沐浴拖鞋),并且专门为女性准备了卫生巾之类的用品。贵州的省长就是一位女性。
我很感激有这样的领导存在,但是,将是否有好的结果寄托于个人的能力、善恶,这实在是太悲哀的一件事情。

当护士的朋友跟我说起一件事情,她的好友是重症病房的护士,病区内有病人不戴口罩,会故意朝身边的护士咳嗽、呵气。
我的一个同学告诉我,她的舅舅至今都不愿戴口罩,还天天出门闲逛、打牌,同学的妈妈每天打电话给亲弟弟,苦口婆心的劝说和激烈的争吵统统无效后,同学打了市长热线举报了舅舅打麻将的地方。
我在社区工作的那位朋友说,他们社区有个爹爹,无论如何劝说留在家里都不听,每天换花样要出门,还会跟社区的工作人员吵架,朝他们吐口水。
我家朝小区外马路的那一面,到今天还能看到有没戴口罩的爹爹婆婆在外面散步。
我在网上也看到很多不戴口罩、不听劝说的路人被警察强行带走的视频。
我的思维有些混乱。如果在以往,我会认为举报了自己舅舅是一种非常“反人类”的让人羞耻的事情,我会认为那种执法方式过于野蛮粗暴侵犯了人权。可是当我被病毒关在牢笼里,我们遵守规则的人因为那些不遵守规则的人而丧失自由“无期徒刑”的时候,我从内心深处是希望有“另一种方式”和“强制的力量”让他们守规矩的。
我不是虚伪的鼓吹强权的人,我只是不知道这条界限在哪里,也许这原本也不是我能给出答案的问题。
也许,根本的问题在于,我们没有权利去划定这条界限。

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。
买下这个吊坠原本是想作为新年礼物送给自己,现在大概会变成年中礼物了。可是活着有些能期待的美好,总是不错的。

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.
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