Fix up grandma’s house. Under this name, the subsidy program of the State Environmental Fund will be launched on Tuesday. For the Šuplík column, this is an opportunity to step onto the thin ice of gender and construction work.
Let’s get one thing straight: that title is false. Only a very big euphemist could argue about it and insist on the word “misleading” instead of “false”.
The lie is that you can receive the subsidy without having a “grandmother’s” house. The condition is the existence of appropriate real estate. The method of its acquisition and your family ties do not matter.
“Fix Grandma’s House” is marketing. See also at the state-citizen level of communication surprising ticking, as if it were some kind of folk literature (build a house, plant a tree, etc.) or an advertisement for a junior target (take a break, collect and win, download an app, etc.). We have already discussed command methods in the last Šuplík. This time we will focus on the role of the grandmother. She is key. Whereas the grandfather’s role is unfortunately marginal, if not non-existent.
Grandma, or the archetype of grandma, dominates the Czech language. Especially compared to grandfathers. One does not want to believe that in the language of a post-patriarchal society, where public speech corresponds to how the so-called guys are trying to manage it, something like this is possible. Where does the grandmother ideal suddenly come from, through which everything from grandmother’s noodles to subsidies is successfully sold? And where is grandfather?
Well, in the beginning there was Bozena Němcová. No one wrote Grandpa anymore. We have Grandma’s Valley, and nothing more.
But that still doesn’t explain why the TV show has to be called “What Our Grandmothers Did and What We Forgot”, while a show called What Our Grandfathers Did and What We Forgot would either sound obscure or simply have nothing to give .
We associate virtually no special skill with the grandfather archetype. Have a pipe? Play the violin, go fishing, anoint Mary in the pub? Burning plum wine?
Whereas with grandmothers, associations jump out immediately and in a big way – the warmth of the home, “holidays at grandma’s”, the kitchen, the apron. “Like from grandma” represents quality an sich and especially in gastronomy, the trademark “grandma” is an absolute seal. Grandma is a lovebrand.
There are (with small and capital B) grandma’s flour, goodness, garden, garden, pharmacy, cottage, patisserie, meatloaf, cake, pantry, breadcrumbs, pate, cabbage, Christmas, tripe, and we’re only talking about what you can find in an hour and a half internet minutes.
And even if you leave the family hearth and loving address, you will encounter grandma’s anger, grandma’s ear and grandma’s summer, grandma’s talk and grandma’s superstitions. Even that clip, although we have universal suffrage, was called Talk to the Granny! Grandpa is clearly not up to much.
Due to the generic masculine, the Czech language puts women behind – for the most sensitive individuals and individuals it seems that it even makes them invisible. In ordinary speech, it refers to all the masculine plurals of spectators, athletes, artists and especially drivers.
“Czech athletes won” – in agreement of the subject with the predicate with a soft i – “three gold and three silver medals”. Therefore, women, and beware, even future grandmothers, did compete as well, but they did not participate linguistically.
The news reports “drivers must expect delays”, as if female drivers were not driving the wheels (and there were no passengers sitting in the cars, who are stuck in traffic jams anyway).
So the quantitative dominance of grandmothers over grandfathers can be even such a small compensation for the linguistic shortcomings of the female gender. Grandmothers and everything related to them are visible. On the other hand, Grandfather’s car and Grandfather’s bowl cost the most, if you remember it from school.
But this is not a formal repayment of the language debt. We hear about grandmothers so often because their world of care appeals to us intimately, in which we need to hide. At least in imagination. Translated into marketing, grannies “work” on us. That’s why the grant program is called “Fix Grandma’s House” and not “Grandpa’s House,” although there is no objective reason for that, except that the average grandmother statistically lives to be older than the average grandfather.
The fondness for things made in grandmother, as from grandmother and after grandmother, which is so convincingly demonstrated in our speech, is also an appreciation of the feminine element. It reveals what really matters – even if we keep quiet about it most of the time, almost as if we’re ashamed.