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.