Usually, I don’t do this, but it was too good to not answer it bit by bit…:
Gabriele Wolff, a jurist and fiction author who prides herself in “having analysed the devastating effects of feminism à la Alice Schwarzer on the state of law” (…LOL!), has published a reply to the various criticism Kristina Schröder’s book (and, you know, her general policies…) has received, including citing mine.
Of course, it is necessary for argumentatively forceful replies to entitle themselves with a hint of rebel and anti-political correctness, so her article is named “Kristina Schröder also says what has to be said”. Indeed, it is always a great selling point to construct your argument as the only voice of reason in a firestorm of mass media political correctness; as the sole keeper of truth and decency in this jungle (yes, I am using that consciously) of anti-racism and anti-sexism that leaves such devastating effects on public interests you alone have discovered, and to imagine yourself as being the censored minority publisher, when all you do is repeat the same arguments that every other Stammtisch and the millions of people who bought Thilo Sarrazin’s and Eva Herman’s book and will, without doubt, also buy Schröder’s, think and argue all along.
After having made this introductory maverick statement, Wolff continues that
und erntet dieselben Reflexe, die Günter Grass erfahren hat. Denn Feminismus-Kritik ist dasselbe verminte Gelände wie Israel-Kritik.
I find it marvellous that people have to step into every trap of cliché they possibly can to defend Schröder. Günther Grass has written a ‘poem’ that accused Israel of wanting to “eradicate” the Iranian people; he then complained about the “gleichschaltung” of the media (as you seem to do, dear Gabriele Wolff, but you have the sense to not use that word), and imagined himself, just as Wolff does, as the sole voice of reason in this politically correctness crazed world.
Indeed, what Wolff does here, is to play with the implicit belief that both feminism and Israel (as a state? As a government? As “the Jews”?) are so powerful and all-consuming forces that any form of criticism leads to inevitable, horrific repercussions (hence: the “mine field” analogy); a very subtle hint at the continuous and revoltingly anti-Semitic idea that both have a secret power network and are above democratic influence and are somehow capable of pulling every string. This is how antifeminist and anti-Israel prejudices work, apparently: regardless of the fact that an explicit and outspoken anti-feminist is now germany’s Federal Minister for women, and that Israel has been up for every form of criticism (and attack) since its existence, and middle-Eastern conflicts seem to be a little more complicated than what Günther Grass makes of them, somehow both feminism and Israel have been the secret victors all along.
Wolff then selectively cites a number of replies and reviews of Schröder’s book and policies from different media outlets to construct her argument that the “mass media” is somewhat hostile and can only attack ad hominem. I find it remarkable, however, that feminist outlets like Mädchenmannschaft and myself are now suddenly this country’s majority. Who knew? I don’t even know what to do with all that sudden power and discursive influence… :)
Und schon läuft die nächste Pressekampagne, angeschoben von den getroffenen Mainstream-Feministinnen in Medien und Politik, die zurecht aufheulen, wenn jemand die Entideologisierung der Geschlechterrollen fordert. Es ist mal wieder eine Scheindiskussion, die mit den realen Frauen nicht geführt werden könnte, denn die haben andere Sorgen. Und wie üblich kommt es zu einer Personalisierung, die an Unsachlichkeit nicht zu überbieten ist, wie ein Blick auf den Blog ›Mädchenmannschaft‹ belegt.
Ignoring the elaborately formulated criticsm on many feminist blogs and selectively going for frustrated one-liners, Wolff then claims that the debate about Kristina Schröder’s views and actions completely lacked objectivity [sic]. Sadly, this assertion is made in the same paragraph where the author states that “mainstream feminists of the media and politics” start to “howl” when someone asks for the “de-ideologisation” of gender roles. The author further writes that this was a strawman debate anyway, since “real women” were not part of it because they had “different worries”.
Let’s take this one apart step by step: although Wolff laments ad hominem attacks on Schröder, she seems perfectly alright with essentially calling all of the 10,000 women that have signed the Open Letter to Schröder within these past days no “real” women. It is quite interesting that even on Kristina Schröder’s personal fan page on Facebook, most of her defenders are male (just saying…). So, what are the “different worries” of “real women”, other than small women’s issues like equal pay, equal rights, family finances, and having acces to daycare spaces? Since these topics are, apparently, of no interest to “real women”, forgive me if I have to ask: is Eva Herman’s apple pie recipe?
Second: to associate Kristina Schröder with the de-ideologisation or de-construction of gender roles is a bit of an absurdity (and by a bit, I mean: total). Wolff ignores the fact that the de-construction and de-ideologisation of gender roles is one, if not the most, important part of feminist movements and ideologies. It is, however, not even remotely related to Kristina Schröder’s antifeminism and conservatism. Kristina Schröder falsely claims “freedom of choice” as a conservative value, whereas it actually is a value feminists have been fighting for for decades. Kristina Schröder’s policies run diametrically to freedom of choice in any case, because families who cannot afford to hire help privately or have a stay at home parent face enormous difficulties in finding a daycare space for their child – and Kristina Schröder’s policy of Betreuungsgeld is a mere deflection of that fact.
Since care work is still the almost exclusive domaine of women, this, in turn, leads to a re-ideologisation of women’s roles: Not only vertically, but also horizontally. Women will continue being responsible for care work, since there aren’t enough daycare spaces for children. Then again, women who can afford to hire help privately, are the ones who will mostly hire other women, who, in turn, in the care work sector, are often women of color and women with an “immigration” background and/or different social status. The social stratification Kristina Schröder’s policies perpetuate and reinforce, therefore, are the complete opposite of an de-ideologisation of gender roles. De-ideologisng gender roles is, and I can’t believe I have to write this, not really what conservatism is about. Not even the “new” conservatism of Angela Merkel and Ursula von der Leyen, which is more about pragmatism than actual equality. And if Wolff actually knew more about the processes that lead to new policies like “Elterngeld” and the affects, she would probably refrain from sweeping assertions like this one.
Kristina Schröder wird vorgeworfen, sich für das Betreuungsgeld einzusetzen.Das war nicht ihre Idee, sondern die der CSU, die es der CDU abtrotzte. Schröder hat insoweit nur die Wahl, zurückzutreten oder den entsprechenden Gesetzentwurf mit zusammengebissenen Zähnen vorzubereiten. Wählt sie die erste Option, erhält eine stramme Parteisoldatin ihren Job.
In what political world does Wolff live? Kristina Schröder is the minister for families, seniors, women and youth – she is the one with the authority and the duty to implement policies that are not detrimental to the well-being of the people of her reponsibility. Ironically, Wolff denies Schröder’s agency and competence and makes her a mere party loyalist, cynically holding on to power, maybe against her better judgment. Moreover, Wolff basically gives up politics for “the people” here (you know, that thing a representative democracy is actually about… not that anyone cared anyway…), and makes political decisions that affect millions of specific people about mere party politics. I find it interesting how Wolff constructs Kristina Schröder as a small party loyalist with no other choices and no voice of her own – one might even call that sexist…
Kristina Schröder wird vorgeworfen, den Kita-Ausbau nicht voranzutreiben.Der Kita-Ausbau ist Sache der Kommunen.
Really? Daycare is the sole reponsibility of local communities? The BMFSFJ begs to differ.
Kristina Schröder wird vorgeworfen, zu wenig für die Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Familie zu tun. Diese Forderung muß zuständigkeitshalber an Frau von der Leyen adressiert werden.
Why? Why is not also the responsiblity of the federal minister for families, seniors, women and youth to further policies that help reconcile work and family lives? I agree that it is certainly not Schröder’s job alone – rather: the job of the entire government -, but Ursula von der Leyen sure wasn’t picky when she had Schröder’s office, and, yet again, Schröder’s agency and relative power are being denied here.
Kristina Schröder wird vorgeworfen, gegen die Frauenquote in Aufsichtsräten von DAX-Unternehmen zu sein. Man kann auch aus feministischen Gründen gegen Quotenfrauen sein: http://www.emma.de/hefte/ausgaben-2011/winter-2011/warnung-vor-der-quote/ Letztlich ist es ohnehin nur Symbolpolitik für ein paar happy few, die bei einigen Sitzungen im Jahr das abnicken, was die entscheidenden Aufsichtsratsausschüsse und der Vorsitzende ihnen präsentieren, wofür sie fürstlich entlohnt werden.
I am not even going to dignify the link to Emma with more than the remark that 1) Emma / = / Feminism as a whole, and 2) if Wolff had actually read the article, she would probably realize that it is a quite nuanced piece that counters her argument on several levels. It is quite funny, though, how Wolff suddenly discovers her love of social equality when it comes to quotas for women in germany’s top corporations and states that quotas would only help a “happy few” who would not really be in charge of anything but would get a boatload of money for saying Yes to the decisions other people make. Again: Wolff’s image of women in higher positions is that of loyal party soldiers who are not in charge of anything, really, but say Yes to everything. According to this, women have no agency at all.
I could question why it is so much more reprehensible to have a couple of women in the offices where other men do exactly the same, if one would follow Wólff’s logic that every executive board member is only affirming what someone else has decided for them already, but let’s get to the actual problem here: Despite the fact that massive corporations in germany, let’s take Lufthansa as an example, have a female workforce of at least 50%, the higher the ranks get, the thinner the air gets for women. People have traditionally called that the glass ceiling phenomenon, and it seems to hold true that while women are over-represented in very specific niches, such as the “classical” women’s jobs of Human Resource Management and Industrial Councils, the number of women in charge of actual decision making processes in germany’s DAX-noted corporations is almost negligable, namely 3.7 per cent. You call it a mere “symbolic” policy, I would call it a political decision and action to raise this percentage, to actively break through this very real glass ceiling. Fortunately or sadly, social change usually starts with this kind of “symbolism”.
The fact that quotas like these are profitable mostly for a very specific group of women – german, white, well-educated, well-off already – holds true and I am very happy that Wolff recognized that. What does not hold true, however, is the implication that once you implement quotas for DAX corporations, you are not allowed to do anything else for any other group of women at all…
Kristina Schröder wird vorgeworfen, nichts gegen den Gender Pay Gap in Höhe von 23 % zu unternehmen. Sorry, selbst wenn es ihn gäbe, wäre sie dafür ebensowenig zuständig. Das statistische Bundesamt konnte überdies nur eine Einkommenslücke von 8% entdecken, für die es noch keine Erklärung gibt. Aber Mythen leben eben lange…
Dear Gabriele Wolff: arguing with facts – it’s a thing! Because the Statistisches Bundesamt has actually come to the conclusion of a gender pay gap of 23%. And while some of them, you, some of other conservatives and people who cannot fathom the idea that sexism exists usually argue that this is because of baby gap years, because women just magically choose different types of professions without any external influences and in a wonderfully pink-bubbly vacuum, because typical women’s professions are just magically valued less and, therefore, women earn less, it can also be broken down to the simple fact that, even in the same profession, with the same working hours and with the same education, men’s salaries are higher than women’s. Period. And you know why people are confronting Kristina Schröder with the lack of daycare facilities and the lack of women on executive boards? That’s because both are huge factors in the gender pay gap. And who is most harshly affected by gender pay gaps? Women of Color. And that’s an international problem.
Existiert in der Wirtschaft oder im öffentlichen Dienst auch nur ein einziger Tarifvertrag, in dem zwischen männlichen und weiblichen Arbeitnehmern/Angestellten differenziert wird? Haben wir nicht ein Antidiskriminierungsgesetz, nach dem auf gleiche Bezahlung geklagt werden kann? Gibt es nicht auch den Niedriglohnsektor für Männer (Wachschutz, Gebäudereiniger)? Werden Frauen gezwungen, in Branchen zu arbeiten, in denen weniger verdient wird als in anderen?
3. Yes, but…
4. No, but…
Zwischen der sozialen und der Geschlechterfrage muß getrennt werden. Denn das abgehängte Drittel unserer Gesellschaft besteht aus Frauen, Männern und Kindern. Familien, Ledigen und Alten. Immigranten und Deutschen.
This is the most intersting paragraph to me, because, suddenly, it all comes down to an abstract “social question” for Gabriele Wolff that entails a third of “our society’s” people who have been “left behind”, and that third of the people entails… everyone. The logic is persuasive, of course, but, again, let’s take this one step at a time: to Wolff, “the social question” (which is: what? Class Warfare? Poverty? Racism? A combination of things?) is one that should be completely divided from the “gender question” (which is funny, because gender issues are inherently social issues, as they are inextricably linked to the persistent social structure), to then be able to talk about the “social question” that, again, entails gender (men* and women*), families, singles, the elderly, immigrants and germans (…by the way, Gabriele Wolff, that distinction is revolting!).
So, in Wolff’s view, we have to talk about all of this, but we’re not allowed to start with one aspect of discrimination. I am delighted that Wolff is a fan of intersectionality, but I am afraid she misunderstood the basic premise: gender questions are questions that concern children, elderly people, “immigrants”, people of color, people with german passports or without them, singles, families, etc. – gender issues are inextricably linked to all of these and vice versa. The only thing that gets left behind when framing a discourse of gender that takes other structural discriminations and privileges into account is the old and boring critique of Nebenwiderspruch. And we should be happy to see that go.
Die alle sind der Ministerin zutiefst dankbar, daß sie sich gegen eine Ideologie wendet, die in Wahrheit eine Gruppe bevorteilen und die andere diskriminieren will, ohne die realen Gegebenheiten in den Blick zu nehmen.
Gabriele Wolff presumes that she (…and Kristina Schröder? The “animosity/xenophobia towards germans in germany” person?) has both the right and the ability to speak for “women, men, children, elderly people, families, singles, immigrants, and germans.” Personally, I do not think she has that right or capability, but maybe that’s just me…
Indeed, the “real circumstances” that Wolff is denying here have been showcased over and over again in studies, in people’s lived realities, and have been linked on a multitude of blogs – yet, to Wolff and Schröder and people alike, those are “ideologies”, whereas their perception is actual reality. It is almost funny that Wolff states that gender equality is trying to secure advantages for one group of people, when the people who would actually be affected by gender equality are… everyone. Gabriele Wolff inadvertently makes the important point that gender equality must include the fight against racism, classism, hetero-sexism, cis-sexism, ableism and ageism – but I have the funny feeling that I might be better off fighting for that with people rooting for gender equality than with people who think they as white, german women are the perfect spokesperson for “immigrants” and can actually decide what “immigrants” think or do not think of an “ideology” as an alleged homogeneous group. Homogeneity seems to be a particular favourite of Wolff anyway, whereas gender issues, family politics, politics for single and married people, politics for men and women and children, politics for young and old people are much more diverse and interwoven than the alleged united anti-ideological front Wolff creates here could ever be.
To conclude: Nothing of your writing, Gabriele Wolff, in any way refutes the criticism that has rained its evil and vile wrath down on Kristina Schröder. Kristina Schröder, the federal minister also in charge of gender equality politics, however, has chosen to proclaim repeatedly and, finally, write a book about the silliness of gender equality politics. That is within her rights, of course. Actually, I applaud her for being explicit about her ideology, whereas you, Gabriele Wolff, disguise your ideology as an alleged common-knowledge reality. The personal right to write about every topic you want, the personal right to be anti-feminist, and the personal right to be german-nationalist do not, however, equal a right to not be criticised for these positions. Your right to critique the pushback Kristina Schröder has gotten does not make the criticism of Kristina Schröder invalid; if only, because the alleged “facts” you want to argue here are nothing but your personal opinion, not backed up by anything than your self-proclaimed expertise on all the “real women” in this country.
The problem with that is: I am a real woman. And so are the thousands of women who have signed the Open Letter to Kristina Schröder. So are the thousands of women (and “real men”) who have spoken up. And if you want to refute some of their rightful claims that counter Schröder’s and your world view, please try harder next time.