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13. Juni 2018

E. L. Karhu | FIN Autorin | geboren 1982 in Helsinki, arbeitet als Dramatikerin und Dramaturgin. Das thematische Interesse von ihren Stücken kreist vielfach um die Ethik menschlichen Handelns sowie um das Verhältnis zwischen Individuum und Gesellschaft. Die Autorin untersucht in ihrem Schreiben neue dramatische Formen und die Grenzen der Bühnensprache.


UTOPIAS OF THE FAR RIGHT In Finnish literary landscape the far right has managed to take over a lot of the language and thinking in also more mainstream contexts in the last 5-10 years. Much of this has been done through the form that in Finland is called "essay" that has been very popular at this time, a kind of mainstream bastard version of the classic essay form, where different kinds of suggestions and utopias are being introduced. One of the most known right-wing "essayist's" suggestion for a better society involves for example a kind of military service for all Finnish women, but involving sex work for the men who otherwise cannot access it (the book is published in 2009). This specific work is constantly referenced in mainstream literary critique as an interesting and valid essay, and the writer is seen as a relevant societal thinker.

REASONABLE PEOPLE The far right has also introduced three new terms for the Finnish language in the last 10 years, which have a wide usage also outside far right circles. One of them is tolkun ihmiset, "reasonable people", which frames opinions, for example being pro human rights, as something extreme, for which "reasonable people" don't stand. This has been one effective strategy to move the whole center of the political discussion to the right, and is also being endorsed by many writers, who state that "why cannot the extremes just agree and be reasonable". Related to this move are two other terms, suvakkihuora and kukkahattutäti, that specifically reference women who don't agree with the far right´s political agenda. Suvakkihuora, literally "tolerant whore", references a woman who is working for example for migrants´ rights. What is interesting here is that the word suvakki, "tolerant", is a version of an old word from the times of Finland's civil war in 1918, punikki, meaning "red" or "communist"; so the use of this word is tied to a long history of Finnish facsicm. Kukkahattutäti, "an aunt in a hat with flowers", is a version of suvakkihuora that references specifically elder women working as activists, who are portrayed as naive and stupid.

ON NOT BEING SILENCED BY FEAR When meeting Finnish female writers who even lightly touch on feminist topics or for example topics of racial diversity in their work, you can start the discussion by "when did you get your first rape and death threats". Often the answer is the year 2005, when the far-right "True Finns" party broke into mainstream discussion
through their big parliamentary win, and hate speech was normalized in the public space, leading to an increase in hate speech. In addition to taking over the language and moving the "center opinions" to the right, the silencing of the voices that resist this is the most important political tool, and this silencing is done mainly by fear. As a writer I believe we can fight this by refusing to be silenced, by using our voice and challenging the notions of what is "reasonable", what is "suitable", what is "relevant".

AGAINST DEHUMANIZATION As a writer regarding language specifically I am interested in working in a way where I don't make my own language and experience smaller, don't dilute to better suit the "mainstream mind" or the central interpretation patterns. To also write about what is considered trivial, which is not significant, which shows as banal or will even be read as a joke; all these assumptions are based on dehumanization, on the thought that some people's voices and experiences are trivial, because they are not really human, they are something less. In my play PRINCESS HAMLET (2017) I show existential loneliness and themes of betrayal, love and friendship in a way where the existential questions are not only tied to the old classic male narratives of the "holy madman" male characters, but to the crisis of a female character under her stars, the planets that haunt her. At the moment I am also interested in how for example a teenage girl's loneliness, a teenage girl's despair, a teenage girl's truth, a teenage girl's language can be seen as something existential, rather than as something banal, as something trivial, as something less than. Who gets to speak, whose voice, whose experience is considered central, significant, and whose is considered to be something banal and uninteresting? How can one, as a writer, have the fury and the truthfulness to write against these constructs and revolutionize them from the inside?

NORDIC ARROGANCE In Finland work regarding these topics and against the misogyny of the far-right specifically is framed by a specific brand of nordic nationalism which I call nordic arrogance; it is the kind of nationalist pride that is strengthened by different kinds of lists of "the best country in the world to live in", where Finland often is placed high up. This makes it easy to gloss over the harshly racist and misogynist culture prevalent and is an extra obstacle in the work. There is a known old saying in Finnish stating that on lottovoitto syntyä Suomeen, "it is like winning the lottery to be born in Finland". The question remains, for whom.