Wednesday, April 13, 2016

“How can I help?”



Claire and Francis Underwood, the U.S. First Lady and President in House of Cards, may be ruthless to their opponents, but they always have each other’s backs.
As soon as one of them mentions a problem they’re having, the other one listens and says “How can I help?” Four beautiful words that I have started offering to my wife, and that society and humans in general would do well to experiment with.
“Oh, no – our house will be flooded if the river keeps rising.”
Instead of the usual “Sucks to be you”, try “How can I help?”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mysteriet med ”womensplaining”

Ett nytt fenomen – för er som inte har hängt med i genusdebatten – kallas ”womensplaining”.
Att ”womensplaina” är att förklara hur något ligger till, men på ett sätt som bara människor med vagina kan – det vill säga egocentrerat, ytligt och med en självklar rätt att bli hörd.
När din moster, utan att ha blivit tillfrågad, förklarar varför man inte kan ha rött läppstift på bröllop, gör hon sig skyldig till grov ”womensplaining”.
Vi talar alltså om ett extremt irriterande personlighetsdrag.
Vem som är en ”womensplainer” är inte upp till kvinnor att bedöma. Bara män kan avgöra vem som är skyldig. Säger en man att du är en ”womensplainer”, så är det så. Såna är reglerna.
Här uppstår ett dilemma. Ska man vara bokstavtrogen blir kvinnor per automatik ”womensplainers” varje gång de förklarar för en kille varför de inte är ”womensplainers”. Resultatet är att de hamnar i en ändlös ”womensplainers”-loop.
Tills någon gett ut en handbok, bör kvinnor som vill undvika att stämplas som ”womensplainers” leva efter devisen: ”Tala är ’womensplaining’, tiga är guld.”

Inspirerat av Hugo Rehnberg’s krönika ”Mysteriet med ’mansplaining’” i Svenska Dagbladet 17 oktober 2015

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A cheerful post about blood cancer


September is blood cancer awareness month. With upper-case if you want. I don’t. It’s just a disease. “A petty, ugly illness that we won’t dignify by speaking of it,” as Dr. Cox would say.
The reason I still want to speak of it is that I have a precursor to blood cancer. Or leukemia, which is the same thing. So far it isn’t anything to worry about. For me, that is. Only one in a hundred who have my condition, monoclonal b-cell leukocytosis, end up with leukemia. And I have a very mild form of MBL.
Still I do. Worry. Of course. Why wouldn’t I? Just like other healthy people, I have managed to ignore the thought of my own death. Now I realize that it is going to happen. And I feel it. I feel little white bloods cells of death running through my veins now, that weren’t there before. Suddenly my body is not my temple anymore. Now there are things in it that don’t care if I die. Odds are I won’t die of leukemia, but it doesn’t matter. If I did have leukemia or some other cancer, I might be dead in a few months. And that makes me pause.
I think about why that would be a bad thing. In the big scheme of things it wouldn’t be. The sun would keep rising and people would go on brushing their teeth and fighting over parking spaces. But my boys would be so heartbroken if I died that just thinking about it almost breaks my heart.
In an evolutionary sense my work on the planet is almost done. (For anyone who wonders what the meaning of life is, it is to have babies. Everytying else is pointless.) What my genes are programmed for is crossing over to the next generation. I have done that part, producing offspring. Maybe that’s why dying doesn’t scare me as much as before. But for my genes to make me really stop caring, I have to survive long enough to raise my boys to sexual maturity. So they can produce offspring.
So after my boys have kids of their own, the invisible leukemian assholes in my blood can multiply all they want. If they do, they will eventually crowd out the good guys and make it impossible for me to clot blood, fight infections, transport oxygen and, finally, live.
I would miss it, though, life. Baseball. Deacon Blue. The mountains. Pretty girls. And my boys. Most of all I would miss my boys.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A thousand days

Julian Assange (I don’t know who created this excellent artwork, but it wasn’t me. I will be happy to credit whoever did, if you make yourself known.)

I went to Julian’s house today, which is the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Some of his supporters were holding a vigil to mark his 1,000th day inside the embassy. He is afraid to come out because there is a warrant out for his arrest. If the British police, who are posted outside the embassy, arrest him, they will extradite him to Sweden. There is no doubt in my mind that Sweden, my home country, will then put him on a plane to the U.S. That would silence one of the bravest voices of our generation.
Hats off to Ecuador for standing up to the U.S. And shame on Sweden for not having the cojones to do the same.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The benevolent sexist



The man coming down the escalator today, against the current, was a little slow-moving. “Wrong way,” he apologised. He was making very little headway and risked falling over, so I stretched out my hand, he took it and I heroically steered him to safety.
Whenever something like this happens I think of my gymnastics coaching days, when my most crucial responsibility was to catch falling people. It’s a split-second thing, so your catch reflex has to be automatic. You also have to get right in there and press your body against the falling person’s, catching them in a tight hug, for it to have any effect. With fully extended arms, you can barely stop a milk carton from hitting the ground, let alone a human being.
I have long been wary of unintentionally performing this in public – automatically catching people who fall on escalators, public transport or just on the street. I know the reflex still works because it kicks in when one of my kids trips. But with strangers it becomes awkward. I’m particularly nervous about catching women. Especially young women. After the recent coining of the term “benevolent sexism,” a lot of formerly chivalrous behavior from men is coming under scrutiny. Apparently, much of what used to be considered common courtesy can now be seen as sneaky ways for bad men to harrass women. With politeness and good manners.
So sadly, I probably would have hesitated to offer my hand at that escalator if the slow-moving person had been a woman. If it had been a pretty teenage girl, I definitely wouldn’t have. But had she tripped and fallen towards me, I probably would have instinctively caught her in a great big bear hug.
And been arrested.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Selma


I saw this film today sitting next to a large black woman. She was, and still is, a stranger to me.
Occasionally throughout the film, I tried to assess her reaction. From what I could tell, she was less emotional than I was. Admittedly, I have grown increasingly maudlin since I became a father, but still. Shouldn’t blacks get all upset and emotional when watching a film like this? Or are they too used to portrayals of injustice, not to mention actual injustice, to bother?
Leaving the cinema, I found myself wishing I myself had some slight injustice, nothing major, to suffer and fight for. Kind of like when I was young and wished I would get hurt really bad so people would feel sorry for me. I know this sounds amazingly ungrateful, but us uninteresting, middle-aged, heterosexual white guys could use something to unite us. As things are now, we just cruise through life, lonely in our splendid individualism, not even realizing how damn good we have it.
Until we see films like Selma.
Great film, by the way. See it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

It’s worse when it happens to us


A big chunk of forest in Västmanland is burning in the scorching summer heat, and Sweden needs help from the European Union. Three French water-bombing planes arrived yesterday evening and two more from Italy are due on site today.
Suddenly, we Swedes see the point of having a good relationship with our EU partners. “They can help us when we need something.” Yes, but it also means that we should help them when they need something. Unfortunately, however, the general sentiment seems to center around the injustice of Sweden paying more to the EU than we get back. As if it were a bank and we should get interest on our deposit.
France and Italy helping us now means that maybe Sweden can help, I don’t know, Romania and Austria when the Danube overflows, for example. But when that happens, it’s not as obvious that we’re union partners anymore. Then, the question quickly turns into “What’s in it for us?”
Can we please instead use this opportunity to realize that we are all better off if we help each other? To foster a sense of obligation as well as one of entitlement?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Replik till Aase Berg

Apropå artikeln ”Kränktheten är en man” i Dagens Nyheter 2014-08-04.


Aase Berg. Foto: Boberger


Hej Aase,
Du gjorde mig ledsen i måndags med din artikel ”Kränktheten är en man”. Eller ska jag skriva att du gav mig ett narcissistiskt sår som jag nu ska försöka snabbläka med självömkande aggressivitet?
Nej, jag lovar att jag inte är aggressiv. Jag kanske inte ens är kränkt? Vad vet jag? Jag har väldigt liten formuleringsmakt, trots att jag är man. Och jag har aldrig förväntat mig att äga världen, en livsförväntning som du påstår att jag fick ”planterad” i mig som pojke. Men du kanske inte heller syftar på mig? Vi känner ju inte varandra.
Ändå tog jag åt mig av din text, Aase, eftersom jag är man och du tvålar till oss män ganska rejält. Varför gör du det? En liknande text om kvinnors lättkränkthet och självupptagenhet framför spegeln skulle få skribenten hudflängd långt innan trycksvärtan hunnit torka. Så varför är det okej att skriva på det här sättet om män? Varför vill du göra det, Aase?
Jag vill inte att du ska tro att jag hatar kvinnor. Tack vare att ni värdesätter utbildning mer än oss män är ni allt oftare, precis som du, härligt smarta, och generellt sett roligare att prata med än män eftersom ni inte måste tävla om allt. Och på den större scenen tror jag att nyckeln till en bättre värld ligger i att smarta kvinnor får mer makt.
Trots dessa försäkringar kan jag höra påhoppen redan nu: Jag är en löjlig figur, en dinosaurie som håller fast vid en unken världsbild bara för att jag inte glatt underkastar mig din späkning. Och genom att protestera mot din nidbild av mig och andra män är jag nu troligen lättkränkt också. Bara genom att skriva den här texten är jag säkert patetisk på något exotiskt patriarkaliskt sätt. Det faktum att jag inte är riktigt säker på den saken beror kanske på att jag som man är hysteriskt oförmögen att se mig själv i patetikens ljus, som du uttrycker det?
Men jag har en dröm, Aase. Jag har en dröm om att jag och mina söner en dag ska leva i ett land där vi inte blir dömda efter formen på våra könsorgan, utan för hur vi verkligen är. Så kan du inte sluta sparka på mig? Det är ju inte mitt fel att jag är man, och jag tänker inte be om ursäkt för det.
Kan du inte bara se mig som en medmänniska? En som försöker trassla sig fram i tillvaron med värdighet bäst han kan, på jakt efter mening och gemenskap precis som du?
Hälsningar,
Henrik Harr
P.S. Jag sköter det mesta av marktjänsten hemma. Kan jag vara ”efterskottsbitter” för det, eller är ”kränkt” mitt enda alternativ eftersom jag är man?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trying to be a commie

On occasion, when I choke on the Maserati/beggar dichotomy, I swear I will start voting for the Lefties, since they are the only ones talking about justice and decency.
However, when I answer questionnaires like the “Valkompassen” at svt.se to see with which party my sympathies lie, I end up with the predictable result below. Liberals at the top at the Lefties all the way at the bottom.
Guess I’m only red on the outside. Blue at the core. What to do?