July 4, 2020
COVID-19 updates: If men want to be heroes, they should do the dirty work

Read more here

From the website: "Whenever someone asks me what kind of film genre I enjoy the most, I always answer without hesitation, 'disaster movies of course'. For me, the greatest thrill is in the impending doom that disaster movies bring, the frightening tsunami overwhelming unsuspecting beachgoers, the volcanologist warning of a catastrophic eruption that ordinary, pie-eating townsfolk refuse to hear, or the sudden arrival of voracious aliens from out of space, against which, humanity with all its advancements have not thought to prepare for.

I love disaster movies because, in them, humanity always survives. Disaster movies tell us that tragedy is inescapable but that there are always capable, reasonable heroes, families coming together and the triumph of human ingenuity over adversity. Disaster movies are also special because they bring the thrills, chills and spills in a manageable package. One can watch the film and then walk away relieved that such a nightmare is not part of our daily reality.

Devastatingly, the coronavirus pandemic is not a film. We do not know when it will end, and we are not sure of our heroes. It is part of a rapidly unfolding nightmare that is likely to haunt humanity for years to come. It will be remembered, as disasters often are, in painful conversations, in grieving, and in the post-traumatic stress that will visit those directly and indirectly affected by it.

Those unfortunate enough to experience severe physical effects from the illness will be fearful for years to come of every cough, chest pain and fever. They will ask their doctors and themselves if it is 'the same thing again', in the same way that survivors of life-threatening illnesses ask whether the pain they are experiencing is the same illness.

I know this because I survived a pulmonary embolism three years ago. It took me a year to recover, and three years later, I still doubt every little ache and twinge I feel in my ribs or my sternum. Beyond the illness itself, there will be incidences of stress evident amongst those fearful of being out in public, and of touching everyday items. There will be fear of intimacy, especially with those we meet for the first time.

But for me, as a woman and as a mother, I am aware of the enormous responsibility of these times for women and mothers. It is something that rarely makes the evening or even daytime news. On our shoulders, and despite a long history of women's liberation, rests the burden of being the ones who guarantee cleanliness.

A very long time ago, I unthinkingly read Mary Douglas’ classic work Purity and Danger, an account and analysis of pollution and taboo. As I clean my home today in ways that I could never have imagined, I am reliving the anthropologist’s ethnography. ..."