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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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You Walk Alone.

23 Sep

[Content note: rape culture, sexual(ized) assault and violence and language, victim blaming, racism]

Ever since a police officer told a group of of students in 2011 to not “dress like sl*ts” so they wouldn’t get sexually assaulted, women* in Toronto, Canada, started out a quickly spreading action movement against this culture of sl*t shaming and victim blaming by initiating the so-called “sl*t walks” in protest. In an effort to reclaim the word sl*t and (at least partially) regain access to the discourse about women*’s sexuality and rights to bodily integrity, demonstrations titled “sl*twalks” took place in 75 cities worldwide at the end of 2011. In Berlin, germany, the first walk took place in August last year with about 3,500 participants; another sl*t walk marched just last week.

The under­lying rea­sons for a pro­test move­ment like the “sl*twalks,” Fe­mi­nism ™ agrees on that, are tre­men­dously important: the fight against rape culture, sl*t shaming, victim bla­ming, sexual(ized) violence and (street) ha­­rass­ment, objectification, trivialization and the common disregard for women* who are being thought of less than a human being in (public) space. Sl*twalks are a non-centralized, diverse action movement that seems to profit and suffer from the same strategies and in­herent difficulties that the (non?)political concept of “openness” brings with it – a chance for people who are not politically organized to participate anyway, but the inevitable perpetuation of systematic social discrimination when one does not explicitly reflects and/or strongly advocates and acts against it (cf. the remarkably similar – no, that’s not remarkable, that’s irony - problems of the Occupy Wall Street movement). Importantly: having an open movement like sl*twalks that invites as many women* (and men*) as possible to participate, it is not only about preventing discrimination, and, in certain regards when establishing this “open” concept, discrimination is basically part of the deal; the reaction to incidents or even whole structures of discrimination becomes vital, and here is where many sl*twalks fall short.

There has been anti-racist criticism of sl*twalks – and not just once, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. There has been anti-classist, anti-heterosexist, anti-ableist, anti-cis-sexist, … criticism of sl*twalks – and not just once, here and here and here and here and here and here.  And these links are just the result of a quick Google search, by the way – there’s a whole lot more.

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Not My Representatives.

19 Apr

Kristina Schröder, germany’s federal minister for families, seniors, women and youth (…ridiculously hard to translate: BMFSFJ), is a bad person. She has been constantly mocked as incompetent, stupid, overchallenged; yet, I do not think she is any of these things. I think Kristina Schröder is a conservative ideologist and activist, an anti-feminist and a german nationalist with racist tendencies – hence, in my view, a bad person.

Schröder refuses to amend gender-discriminatory fiscal policies (such as the german “Ehegattensplitting”) and is one of the few European politicians in charge of gender equality politics to outright decline any gender quotas/affirmative action, even though her “flexible” and “voluntary” models have led to no essential changes in the make-up of germany’s companies’ executive boards and male dominance.

She rather writes a book (…co-authored by one of her employees…), named “Thanks – but we’re emancipated!” (“Danke – emanzipiert sind wir selber!” – and I’m not even gonna get into the fact that, if only linguistically, that title makes my head hurt…). I won’t spend a penny on this drivel, so I haven’t read it, but what I gather from her interviews, guest articles, excerpts from her book, and other people’s book reviews, her writing seems to be in line with her rambling: an oversimplifying, anti-feminist treatise about the magic awesomeness of individual freedoms; negating structural discrimination and evoking the very tiresome neoliberal construct of unlimited personal liberty and agency, and that if you face resistance or are discriminated against, it’s simply your fault and there’s no non-individual remedy, and that it’s certainly not a political issue.

Yet, she is the one who will implement “Betreuungsgeld”, a monetary reward for every family that decides (and can afford) to not put their kids in daycare and either take care of the toddlers themselves (or rather: herself…) or hire someone privately, while selectively eliminating the additional financial support parents get within the first year of a child’s life (“Elterngeld”) for parents who are on welfare (“Hartz 4″). And while it is certainly no one’s business why or why not families put kids in daycare, the mere fact that some of them have no other choice but this costly option and “Betreuungsgeld” merely deflects the very important criticism that, despite the minister’s promises, there aren’t nearly enough daycare spaces for kids in this country anyway, shows that Kristina Schröder is certainly not shy when it comes to executing certain policies that do affect people’s personal liberties – as long as it affects the ones she doesn’t really care about.

Moreover, Kristina Schröder is not only a (ultra?)conservative when it comes to women’s rights, she’s also an Enthusiastic German, who tells fairy tales of the alarming rates of reverse racism [sic] and animosity towards german people in this country (germany…), of course: committed by “immigrants”. She was the one to not only cut funding for anti-racist and anti-fascist grassroots organizations, but to enforce the new ordeal that all of them now have to officially declare their love of the constitution. She chose to shift the focus of “anti-extremist” work to the extremely outrageous german left-wing terrorism of sabotaging army vehicles and smashing paint bombs against buildings, while right-wing terrorists could travel the country and execute people they deemed “non-german” (…but that’s the same!). Moreover, taking up the right-wing slogan of “germany for germans”, Schröder was so generous to fund a project titled “Dortmund den Dortmundern” where neo-Nazis and “normal” teenagers were brought together in a nice circle to discuss the city’s “democratic” future.

And yes, there is so much more…

Kristina Schröder is a bad person, and her politics can’t help but show that. Her book seems to have been the final straw for some of germany’s feminist activists, and, in the wake of Schröder’s publicity tour, germany’s Green Party and independent activists have initiated an Open Letter, called: “Not my Minister” that has been signed by 3,000 7,000 people at this point, asking Schröder to resign.

Personally, I think it has been high-time for public figures to counter Schröder’s ideology. I also think the letter is well-written and addresses many important issues in regard to Schröder’s blatant anti-feminism and her classism. However, it seems that the letter’s authors seem to be partially stuck in feminism’s Second Wave – which is ironic because that’s Schröder’s biggest pet peeve…

The letter adequately addresses Schröder’s ideological fallacies, the persistence of structural discrimination and the ridiculousness of having a person like her represent this country’s women. I also understand that Open Letters are compromises, that Open Letters cannot address every single issue, and that Open Letters have to be as broadly written as possible to appeal to as many people as possible. But here’s where you lose me, dear initiators: You have written a letter from white german women for white german women, a letter about white german women’s problems and how to fix these for this group. Not with one word does the letter even mention Schröder’s nationalism and racist tendencies, not with one word do you take the specific discrimination of women of color in this country, that Schröder not only perpetuates but exacerbates with her anti-feminism and “reverse racism” talk and action, into account.

I understand that activist nitpicking can be annoying and that, sometimes, some form of protest is better than none. But to me, this is not a minor detail – this is unacceptable, and it showcases a lack of awareness and an abundance of white privilege in certain “professional”, german feminist circles. It also makes this letter really “safe” and ensures that some of the more prominent undersigned won’t face any repercussions and/or disadvantages in case they’re looking for a “gender mainstreaming”-labelled job offered by a political party or related organization at some point and want to use this in their portfolio…

Kristina Schröder is not merely anti-feminist, she is a conservative ideologist. Her anti-feminism, classism and german nationalism go hand in hand, and it is this cluster of discriminatory thinking and subsequent action that affects people. The Open Letter was a chance to not only speak for certain women, but to address the discriminatory structures that Kristina Schröder creates, perpetuates and simultaneously denies, and that especially affect people who face intersectional discrimination. In my view, you cannot address one without the other, because Schröder’s ideology is as interwoven as reality.

“Reasonable” Racism.

6 Jan

So, now, to clear this up once and for all (no, your racist responses won’t be published, give up already), since I’ve been accused of arguing “poorly”/”unreasonably”/”totally exaggerated” in the previous explicit rant (…) again and again.

[No, that’s not racism, of course not – it’s the clever disclosure of natural brown oversensitivity and overemotionality…  And that people of colour are asked to show their argumentative or intellectual credentials at every turn by some dim-witted white people and are expected, by skin colour default, to be a mobile education device for racists, no matter how many times they repeat the same racist BS towards them – cf. the clusterfuck around Noah Sow, for example… – is not racism either].

Nonetheless, as a brown-skinned public service, I’ll let the Fuck You go for a while and tell you about that racism thing. Again.

Here’s the problem with the Blackface in your staging of “I’m Not Rappaport” (“Ich bin nicht Rappaport”), Schlosspark Theater (not that it has not been said before, but, apparently, you cannot be bothered to actually read some of the criticism, let alone answer it properly):

1. Even if you do not share the clearly articulated and elaborately explained critique of Blackface, your solely polemical, ridiculing and ignorant behaviour towards your critics (…all of whom would be potential theater visitors, by the way) is reason enough to boycott your institution.

2. The fact (which you often repeat, that does not make it right, though) that other theaters have worked with Blackface and haven’t faced any protests, is completely irrelevant. On the one hand, protests could just have been ignored (like you tried to do at first), and even if there were none, that would only show people’s lack of awareness of their own racist practices in white german cultural productions and white german society.

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