Heretics believe which things go against the grain. Women, as keepers of culture, have had to deal with times of upheaval when our very reality goes against all we thought to be true.
Identity and Epidemics
It seems you have a choice with what you do with memory. I have believed this for quite some time, but, like the good little researcher I was taught to be, I checked others fields, and it seems that the concept is called narrative identity.
When the leaders to whom we look for guidance (a type of cultural shorthand) give out inconsistent or deceptive messages, we cannot logically put those message into action, then we have to create our own narrative identities. This can seem like heresy, but you do what you have to. We survive by drawing on our education and training in how to think. It is either look for logic or become mentally unstable.
Narrative identity, or reconstruction of identity is actually what happens when we create a new identity. We do this during and after bereavement. I would add, this is also the case at times when our beliefs and lives are overturned and significant elements are discarded.
Disease Does Not Care
Our species has developed lots of ways to react to change, novel situations, and the unknown via cultural practices such as economics, politics, technology, kinship, and religion. COVID-19 doesn’t care about any of our cultural beliefs or structures. It simply uses us as a host for reproduction and spread.
COVID-19, as new viral organism which treats our human species as a niche to be colonized, cares nothing for cultural behaviors in our species. It does not give a hoot about what we say about it or how we market responses to it.
Personal, Reality-based Identity
These are the hard, cold facts. Nothing any human may think or believe is is without bias but at least scientific information can be tested and replicated. And when we find out more it can be disproven.
Yes. Identity is personal, but we also have leaders for a reason. We add some of our identity from our groups and leaders.
Many of us are realizing that what we thought about our country’s (U.S. and elsewhere) preparedness for health and economic stressors was not true and we are having to redefine part of our selves or identity. To do this is to let go of part of our selves. Essentially some of our beliefs have died.
We grieve that loss. Or we try to exist with incompatible beliefs.
Women Have Been Here Before
Living with such duality is stressful at best. It can create frustration and anger, and occasionally total disorientation.
It helps me to think of what our society is experiencing as heretical COVID culture. Going against the grain.
All the male talking heads on the TV say, “We have never had to deal with anything like this before.”
Oh really? Why not ask our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers what they did when the world turned upside down?
Women, as keepers of culture, have had to deal with times of upheaval when our very reality goes against all we thought to be true. 1918 influenza pandemic, The Great Depression, rationing and scarcity of essentials during WWI and WWII, and even redirection and repurposing of factory production. Women have previously guided families through all through all this and more.
We should be drawing upon previous generations’ knowledge and experience.
Ask your mothers and grandmothers about what they, or their mothers, did to navigate disruption. Go through diaries and letters passed down through the family and draw inspiration.
My mother used to talk about life during the Depression and World War II. I bet your mom or grandmother did too.
They survived, and so will we. We may have to change beliefs and practices but women know how to keep on going when the going gets tough.
Baddeley, Jenna & Singer, Jefferson. (2009). A loss in the family: Silence, memory, and narrative identity after bereavement. Memory (Hove, England). 18. 198-207. 10.1080/09658210903143858.