20th of April 2020
This seems to have been a week of optimism. People in Iceland seem mostly optimistic about the outcome of how we’ve handled Covid-19, and some are even a bit too eager to get to the end of this seemingly never ending tunnel. But hopefully we’ll continue on our way upwards, slowly and steadily.
Perhaps the most notable news this week was the 90th birthday of Iceland’s former president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. She was Iceland’s first, and currently only, female president, and she was the first democratically elected head of state in the world when she got into office in 1980. I think I can say without a doubt that she is our most beloved president, and on her birthday this week, on the 15th of April, people clearly showcased that appreciation by sharing thoughts, stories and photographs on social media under the hashtag #takkvigdis (#thankyouvigdís). I wrote a short appreciation post about her on the Reykjavík Feminist Walking Tour instagram, if you’re interested in knowing more about Vigdís.
On the 16th of April the publishing co-operative Flóra útgáfa published the 6th edition of their online magazine entitled Líkamar or Bodies. The issue is all about different bodies, loving your body and the skin you’re in, the complications we sometimes run into when practising self love and pretty much just everything that has to do with inhabiting a body. The publication is mostly in Icelandic, but I recommend this poem in English by model, artist and activist, Ísold Halldórudóttir: Sometimes I wish I was skinny.
Að sjá hið ósýnilega
This week I finally got to see an Icelandic documentary called Að sjá hið ósýnilega or Seeing the invisible. The documentary is about Icelandic women on the autism spectrum and is a must see for everyone. I would say especially for people not on the spectrum so we know how we’ve been failing autistic people as a society and how we can do better.
The movie is going to be accessible in Iceland through ruv.is until the 13th of July (but only in Icelandic), and I highly recommend it to anyone that is in Iceland and understands Icelandic.
My only criticism on it would be that I think it isn’t tough enough on us that aren’t on the spectrum and are non-disabled. Autistic people shouldn’t have to adjust to society any more than they want to, in order to not become victims to violence, abuse or bullying. People should just never be violent, abusive or bullies.
Unfortunately we don’t seem to be able to have a week of just good, and this week was no different.
This week a young man verbally attacked an Asian woman video taping the interaction while shouting: “you are the Coronavirus” while the woman tried to object to his incessant and nonsensical shouting. The video was uploaded on the social media platform TikTok but was deleted later on as members reported it. The young man seemed to not take the lesson and has continued bragging about the instance on other social media platforms (1).
As a mostly caucasian country Iceland is really slow when it comes to racial matters but fortunately all media and such have only called Covid-19, either that or Coronavirus so racism surrounding Covid-19 has not been very apparent in Iceland until it came to that instance.
Other good things that happened this week are that the first Icelandic woman graduated as a heart and lung surgeon. Congratulations Ragnheiður Martha Jóhannesdóttir! It’s been more than 100 years since the first woman graduated from medical studies in Iceland and we’re still having firsts which is amazing but maybe also a little bit sad since of course it would be better if we were moving a whole lot faster! The first female doctor in Iceland graduated in 1917 and her name was Kristín Ólafsdóttir (1,2).
This week on reykjavik.is, the official website for the city of Reykjavík, it was announced how Tryggvagata, a downtown street, will look after impending changes. Usually that wouldn’t be a feminist issue, some construction work downtown, but this time it is. The reason being that after the change the whole street will be focused on a large mosaic art piece made by Icelandic artist Gerður Helgadóttir. The mosaic has been on that wall for almost forty years but has always been partially blocked by cars that park in front of it. But now that the parking has been moved underground and away from the street Gerður’s work will be in full view. Gerður was an amazing artist, that sadly, along with her fellow Icelandic female artists is not remembered enough. Just like I try to highlight in my tour at one of the stops that is solely about women in the arts.