Monday, 6 February 2012

Where are the snowhumans?

After this weekend’s snowfall, the papers were all about winter fun. As a UK Google news search of the past 24 hours shows: ‘sledging’ was mentioned 103 times, ‘winter wonderland’ even more, namely, 122, ‘snowball fight’ came up only a polite 5 but the favourite of all, compacting snow to make a figure in our own image, was surprisingly not reported once – which made me wonder: where are all the ‘snowhumans’?

A search for ‘snowwoman’ was no more successful and came up only a single time: “a fashion-conscious snowwoman who was having a bad hair day donned a colourful scarf and a pink top to spare her blushes” (Kilburn Times 2012). ‘Snowman’, on the other hand, seemed to have nothing to be ashamed of and beat our ‘snowwoman’ 100 Google hits to 1. But in a population of 103 women to every 100 men (UN 2011), why is a ‘snowwoman’ a rarity? And further, why does she appear as specifically female, i.e. by indication of covering her sexuate body, when the male body can be universally human?

Our historically singular understanding of humanity has left us with the paradox that one body, or image of that one body, can stand for all – but the question has to be: is man’s body not as specific to himself due to his sexuality? If so, why does he not need ‘to spare his blushes’? And if he should equally cover up, how can he be universally human? In consequence, short of readjusting that twig to indicate his specificity, should we not finally call our wintery friend by its rightful name: a ‘snowhuman’?

And when s/he eventually melts away, we would no longer need to be sad at the muddy remains of just another perpetuation of the past, but could take joy in the knowledge that we have done our bit to break that seemingly never-ending cycle. It might just seem like a bit of winter fun but naming and making only ‘man’ essentially denies half of our children their humanity. And in a world that still privileges one sex over the other, making a ‘snowhuman’ might just allow them to build a different future after all.

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