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What Fresh Hell Is This?

30 Jan

Femen Germany, a direct action group engaged in the tremendously important feminist causes of activism against sex slavery, human trafficking and sexualized violence and which has been modeled after the Ukrainian original “Femen,” has made a bit of a name for itself in feminist activism in germany. Incidentally, they achieved recognition by their forms of protest, that, apparently, always include some form of nudity and some form of discrimination. Whereas the biggest german feminist magazine, EMMA, celebrated Femen as a new generation of amazing feminist activists that evil wannabe-feminists from Berlin (!!11) are trying to stifle using all dictatorial means necessary, the fact that this group has been endorsed by EMMA is interesting in itself, given EMMA‘s stances on racism.

Besides the age-old question whether feminist activism in the nude is actually productive (personally, I don’t care if people choose this form of protest, as long as they do it consciously and know what it entails), Femen Germany have displayed an astonishing lack of knowledge and insight when it comes to feminist theory and action of the last three decades while displaying a special talent for being as offensive as possible towards people who are subjected to racism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, ableism and other forms of systematic oppression. I might add that one of their most prominent activists, Zana Ramadani, has actually been a member of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for two years, and Femen Germany‘s FB page displays countless german national flags (*ahem*).

Femen Germany, moreover, is not only ignorant towards these issues, but – and that’s the crucial point for me – furthers discrimination by their biologistic “theories” and offensive actions: be it with their Niqab performance at last year’s sl*twalk in Berlin or their newest “protest” in Hamburg against sex work, 24 hours before the Holocaust memorial day, where they had the nerve to compare sex work to (german) fascism, actually wrote “Arbeit macht frei” on a wall, and demonstrated carrying torches (!).

Femen Germany, thus, are not only a bunch of racist impersonators as seen at the sl*twalk, they actually don’t have an issue with equating sex work to the industrialized mass murder of the Holocaust. Femen Germany has thus proven that they take their name quite seriously – they truly are the worst…

Thankfully, the feminist activists from e*vibes have written an Open Letter that challenges Femen Germany and asks them many important questions (in german):

“Innerhalb der letzten Wochen sind wir über Facebook vermehrt auf euch als Femen Germany aufmerksam geworden. Vergangenen Montag dann haben wir von eurer Aktion in Hamburg erfahren. Nachdem wir den ersten Schock überwunden hatten, haben wir uns ein Herz gefasst und schreiben euch nun diesen Brief. Ein Brief mit einigen der vielen drängenden Fragen. Auf eurer Seite verlinkt ihr die internationale Seite Femen.org. Das Selbstverständnis, welches dort zu finden ist, haben wir uns einmal genauer angeschaut. Es hat sich gelohnt, denn bereits hier taten sich einige Fragen auf: Können Frauen ohne Brüste Femen sein? Wie definiert ihr „Frauen“? Was ist mit Trans*menschen? „Activists of FEMEN – are morally and physically fit soldiers“ Was bedeutet „physisch und moralisch fit“? Können „nicht physisch fitte“ Menschen Femen sein? Warum Soldat*innen?”

Go read the whole letter here.

Either…Or?

4 Dec

[Update: This text has also been published in german on Mädchenmannschaft: "Entweder... Oder?"]

It’s Alice Schwarzer’s 70th birthday. Alice Schwarzer is the official icon of the german women’s liberation movement of the 1970s, and she has been the editor-in-chief of the oldest german feminist magazine, EMMA, for decades. Alice Schwarzer has, in my view, indisputable achievements in terms of feminist activism, e.g., fighting publicly and effectively against §218 of german penal law that illegalizes abortions, and putting feminist perspectives on political and media agendas. Alice Schwarzer has also been criticized heavily, has been called every disgusting insult in the book, has been threatened and yelled at for over 40 years. That she’s still a feminist activist is a sign of courage and perseverance, I believe, and I don’t think that criticism of her political views and actions should negate that.

Alice Schwarzer, however, is also an activist who has made the patronization of other women* an integral part of her brand of feminism, and who has now become a bit of a caricature of an unrepenting Second Wave [sic] feminist who adamantly insists that all women* share the same basic life experience because of their sex, and that Feminism ™ can and should be a completely unified movement encompassing and speaking for every woman* on the planet (…whether they like it or not). In her newest blog article (which, apparently, will also be the editorial note of the newest EMMA issue in January 2013), “Back to Zero?” (in german), Schwarzer laments the “sectarian” tendencies of some modern feminist currents, and believes that anti-racist activists are trying to silence the feminist ones.

Schwarzer believes that there are feminists (the good ones), and that there are groups of women (the bad ones) who are trying to silence the feminists. Schwarzer believes that these groups of women*, particularly the bloggers of Mädchenmannschaft (yes, again, always, blah… – Nadia at Shehadistan has published a great comment on another EMMA article that also jumped on the bandwagon) and other feminist bloggers and activists in Berlin (…although most of them actually aren’t Berlin based, but that would cramp the narrative that other newspapers and magazines have already established, so…), are trying to silence feminist activism by randomly accusing said activists of alleged racism (a reproach Schwarzer denies), and that self-professed PoC assert that they’re automatically right and white people are automatically wrong (…I am not exaggerating, she actually wrote it like that). Moreover, and this is when Schwarzer comes back to the Berlin sl*twalk, these pseudo-anti-racist, anti-feminist groups of women* do not only think feminism is less important than anti-racism (a claim she tries to underline by equating it with her experiences with german working-class activists who thought class was more important than gender), they use their anti-racism as a hidden strategy to further Islamic fundamentalism which she describes as fascism. To sum up: the anti-racist critique displayed by some allegedly feminist women* towards other (the real) feminist women* is just a front for justifying the tenets of radical Islamism/neo-fascism, and it is just a matter of time until these groups of women* who call themselves “left-wing feminists” switch sides to right-wing extremism, and the totalitarian tyranny of said fauxminists has placed an iron curtain of fear and regret on femininist activism in Berlin (and soon across Europe, I assume – alright, here I actually am paraphrasing a bit).

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Im Sektenbunker brennt noch Licht.

30 Oct

Nils (“erlehmann”) studiert Philosophie in Berlin. Und Informatik. Nebenbei bloggt er noch – alles für “nachhaltige Entwicklungen im Bereich Technik und Gesellschaft, d. h. für Freiheit” (naja, die Freiheit von Software und Standards). Was Nils dabei erlernt hat, ist “Godwin’s Law.” Darüber hat er vielleicht auf Wikipedia gelesen (und dahin verlinkt er gerne).

Umso länger eine (Internet-)Debatte andauert, desto wahrscheinlicher wird ein Hitler- oder Nazi­vergleich hervor­gebracht, so ungefähr. Nils fand das super, und hat das gleich gemacht; die Debatte um Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) dauert ja immer­hin auch schon sechs Wochen, da wird’s mal höchste Zeit für einen der selbst­er­klärten Anti­rassist_innen, CWS-Verteidiger_innen Hitler gleich­zu­setzen und People of Color (PoC) mit gehängten Wehr­machts­generälen zu ver­gleichen.

Nils findet nämlich, dass die ganze Debatte viel zu “emotional” sei. Wenn man ein Problem habe mit gruppen­be­zo­gener Menschen­feind­lich­keit, dann könne man diese schließ­lich auch kritiklos ab­lehnen. Und wenn PoC durch Ras­sismus systema­tisch dis­kriminiert werden, recht­fertigt das natürlich keine Wut oder Frustration. Das sind wieder diese “Emotionen,” und die kann man im Bereich der “ernsten Themen” wie “Technik und Gesellschaft” und “Freiheit” nicht ge­brauchen. Was bilden sich diese PoC denn ei­gent­lich ein? Nett sein. Nett sein! Nicht so viel Antirassismus auf einmal, das klingt so böse in den Ohren derjenigen, die gerade erst gelernt haben, dass es keine biologische Grundlage für “Rassen” gibt.

Er schlägt deshalb vor, Rassismus nicht mehr so emotional Rassismus zu nennen, sondern mal ein bisschen “nüchtern” zu werden. Um “All­tags­rassismus” zu ver­anschau­lichen, hat er nämlich was: ein Video! Es geht um eine HP-Gesichtserkennungs-Software, die nur Gesichter weißer Menschen zu lesen vermag. Das ist doch mal ein gutes Beispiel – das hat vor ihm noch niemand gemacht! Nüchtern­heit, hier ist sie! Warum wird sein Bei­spiel eigentlich nicht genannt, wenn man über Critical Whiteness Studies redet? Oh, wurde es? Wieder­holt? Als eines von Hunderten?  Es gibt CWS nicht erst seit Juli? Ja huch… Egal, es ist nicht so emotional hier, wenn man was zum Angucken hat, und schließlich hat jemand “Soft­ware” gesagt. Be­trof­fene sollten nicht mehr so viel reden über Dis­kriminierung – das ist immer alles so aufgeregt. Nils macht das nervös.

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(Not) Only In Germany.

27 Aug

I’m afraid I’m again suffering from a bit of racism overkill (mixed with a hint of white people fatigue), so this clearly isn’t a nuanced analysis, this is exasperation talk. Racism is a world-wide problem, it is a world-wide structure of systematic oppression, and, if only due to personal experiences, things are far from being  fine and peachy everywhere else.

And yet, today, this would be my (non-exhaustive) experience-summary of germany’s explicit racism in 2012 so far:

Only in germany…

... is protest against Blackfacing white actors brushed aside as “USian” political correctness and it is possible to state that Black ensemble members don’t make sense for any theater company anyway, due to a lack of “Black roles,” and cultural and theater critics and the general public heartily agree.

… is it perfectly acceptable to be unaware of any form of colonial history and to essentially negate related genocides by stating that the planned murder of people had happened too early to be classified as a genocide anyway - again, to general agreement. Does anyone recognize the bitter irony of stating that anything regarding genocides that happened before 1955 in germany, when this country implemented the UN convention, doesn’t really count? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!

… do people think that we’ve talked about the Holocaust long enough and people really should move on now, because past. Yeah, tell that to Jasper von Altenbockum, who thinks that even fascist pogroms have their perks; and anti-Semitic murder phantasies as “Death of a critic” by Martin Walser may have been called out by former friends (this is when FAZ’s Frank Schirrmacher actually had something valuable to say), but continued to be bestsellers, not ten years ago. Günter Grass just won’t shut the fuck up either.

… does it seem possible that one of the biggest and well-respected national daily newspapers commemorates the 20th anniversary of a fascist pogrom by stating that it had its upsides, namely putting “social romantics” who advocate human equality (…please!) in their place, and “opening up” the door to further immigration restrictions, without facing a substantial backlash and consequences for the author, who isn’t just an obscure guest columnist, but the actual editor in chief of the newspaper’s internal affairs department?

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Normalcy, Part 2.

26 Aug

Twenty years ago, to the applause of up to 3,000 onlookers, right-wing extremists attacked the homes of political asylum seekers, residents of other countries of origin, and germans they deemed non-german in the community of Rostock-Lichtenhagen. During the following months, pogroms followed in a number of german cities, including Hoyerswerda, Mölln, Solingen and Mannheim. Whereas due to sheer luck no one was murdered in Lichtenhagen, despite the fact that Neo-Nazis threw petrol bombs into the buildings, stormed the houses and smashed everything in sight, seven people died in other fire bomb attacks, and countless people were attacked by mobs of hundreds of self-proclaimed germans during 1992 and 1993.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Lichtenhagen. Whereas anti-fascist activists held rallies to commemorate the pogrom, germany’s Federal President, Joachim Gauck, thought it was a good idea to plant a “german oak,” the much beloved metaphor of germany as an “organically grown nation” and a symbol of german nationalism, as a monument against german racism. But whoever thought that was the highlight of germany’s repentant abilities was shortly thereafter reminded of the depth of personal and institutionalized racism in the midst of this country’s society, and the never ceasing need for victim-blaming, exemplified by an article in one of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

The FAZ has a distinctly conservative reputation, but, as I previously thought, was somewhat able to keep up a certain distance to newspapers and magazines that are not only borderline, but explicitly right-wing, such as “Junge Freiheit,” a weekly newspaper of the so-called “New Right” that aspires bourgeois respectability, and yet, fails miserably with every single issue. However, one of the “New Right”‘s characteristics has been its “hinge function” between “ordinary” conservatism (or even reactionary thinking) and radical right-wing policies, as political research has emphasized (see here, for example). I personally think that’s true, and it is never clearer than when Stauffenberg-conservatives like the majority of FAZ journalists join argumentative hands with explicit right-wingers, especially when it comes to commenting on “immigration” policy or internal affairs. The borders that were once established, however, have always been friendly ones, and are usually too fluid to be taken seriously.

Illustrating these discursive intersections, the FAZ has now decided on publishing a piece that terminates every pretense by an essential political glorification of the effects of Lichtenhagen, written by Jasper von Altenbockum [in german]. Altenbockum contends that, despite the “excesses” of Lichtenhagen’s pogrom, it had positive effects in two regards: teaching “social romantics” that “multiculturalism” is “utopian,” and “unrestricted immigration” necessarily leads to a society’s decline, and the second, related point that the pogroms inspired the newly restrictive immigration and asylum law of 1993 in germany, and a discussion whether germany was an “immigration country” or not (history isn’t his greatest strength, apparently). Altenbockum is not even a stranger to anti-democratic lines of arguments, and has revelled in dubbing anti-ACTA activists a “mob;” a term he seems to apply freely.

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