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Victimhood Theatre.

20 Jun

Enough already… Julian Assange, one of the founders of Wikileaks and currently residing in the UK, has fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London to prevent his extradition to Sweden, after the UK’s Supreme Court denied his appeal last week.

From the BBC’ article:

He fears that if he is sent to Sweden it may lead to him being sent to the US to face charges over Wikileaks for which he could face the death penalty. […] Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture.  […] No charges have been filed.

Alright, let’s get this straight: the terrible doom Julian Assange has been fighting for over 1,5 years is not his direct extradition to the US and a possible charge against him that the US is working on. What Assange has been fighting and continues to fight is having to go back to Sweden to be questioned by police about the sexual assault and rape he might have committed.

Assange has not even been charged with anything. This is about questioning him after he prevented that being re-interviewed by hurriedly leaving the country and having his lawyers and supporters construct a “honeytrapping CIA spies” narrative around his potential sexual assaults on two women*. Assange believes that Sweden “is the Saudi-Arabia of feminism”, and he is the real victim here, having fallen “into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.” And clearly, a stand-up guy like Assange has the right to political asylum when having to flee the reign of terror in Genderqualitya.

One could note here that Assange never directly countered the report of the two women*; he and his lawyer merely contend that what he apparently did does not constitute rape or sexual assault, since the women* had consented to have sex with him at some point (and, apparently, that consent lasts until eternity, no matter if you’re actually conscious or if you’ve actually insisted on the use of condoms or if you’re actually being physically overpowered).

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Feminism and (Catholic) Religion.

14 Jun

This post is probably a bad idea. It will actively offend many people. I will, in contrast to many of the posts I have read about the topic recently, also not qualify it by saying that “not all Catholics/Protestants/Christians are the same and you have to distinguish between their leadership and lay people”, because I do not think that’s true (which is the essential point of this post). And, basically, this is a post about why I think that Feminism (TM) shouldn’t touch (christian, or more specifically: Catholic) religion with a ten foot pole.

I will, however, say that I have mostly encountered the curious intertwining of Feminism and religious beliefs in non-European feminist debates, and while I think that monotheistic religions share the same set of androcentrism, the lack of knowledge and legitimacy to talk about other religions than Roman-Catholic christianity will make this a specifically focused post; and I will be happy to hear counter-examples from other monotheistic or polytheistic religions. I also understand that while I am not a religious person and find the combination of social justice and religion odd at best, people have a right to their own beliefs and ways to make their lives easier and/or find different sources of strength, so I am not judging people for being religious per se, but I am going to judge the hell (harhar) out of a certain religious institution, and out of members who claim they are feminists.

Given the different historical and sociological make-up of many European societies and the US, I have mostly come across US feminists who also defined themselves as religious, specifically christian. I found that combination striking, because it is not only the patriarchal and hierarchical structuring of christian churches that seem to counter every feminist theory and practice, but the underlying patriarchal belief system that, in my view, runs diametrically to every feminist core belief (ha!) one might have, no matter what kind of feminism you pursue.

I, as George Carlin famously said, was “Catholic until I reached the age of reason” (in my case: also, until I realized that all the sexism, essentialized gender roles, heterosexism, and racialized paternalism was propagated in my name, and that no one cared and it did not matter whether I agreed with it or not, because I was part of an association that based its whole belief system and organizational structure on it), and I think the Catholic church clarifies early on who is in real control of one’s body and soul – and that’s not yourself. God is male, Jesus was male, and the one woman* of importance in Catholicism, Mary, was a “virgin” and through immaculate conception gave birth to the most important protagonist – so we like her!

Other women*? Not so much… Eve is the reason all mankind has to suffer, Sarah is a prime example of sexual objectification, Rachel is essentially defined by her (in)ability to give birth, women* of certain power in the Bible are usually described as hot (well, to paraphrase ;)) and simultaneously manipulative (Jezebel), others are weak and dim-witted (Lot’s wife) or defiant and evil (Delilah), and, as my priest once told me, a woman* without “feminine warmth” is a close second to the devil.

But who can blame the bible? It is literature, written by men* of their times (and “their times” is a multitude of different centuries and eras, all rolled into one book). The problem, to me, is that Catholicism defines the bible as the actual word of God, and the word of God is, thus, pretty damned misogynistic.

The organizational make-up of the Catholic church is, therefore, very much consistent. Women* are not allowed to become priests or enter any real position of power, women* are not supposed to have autonomy over their own bodies (both birth control and abortion are sins, since procreation is the purpose of sex that is only to be practised in heterosexual marriage, and life begins at conception; no matter that actually 98 per cent of Catholic women* have used some form of “non-natural” birth control at least once in their lives), and the strictly hierarchical organization with its multitude of dependencies as well as the Catholic churches’ simultaneous obsession with and shaming of sexuality seems to be just one fraction in the massive cluster of sexual assault and rape of children by Catholic priests, and its subsequent deception by the Vatican.

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How About A Vagina Mileage-Program?

23 May

germany’s Pirate Party is an issue I try to steer clear of because, you know, eeew…

There is a whole cluster of cringe-worthiness surrounding the Pirates, but the latest example would be again one of… let’s say… gender insensitivity (read: misogynistic assholery). Apparently, the Pirates are now in the middle of a discussion whether gender quotas/affirmative action is totally discriminatory towards men* in their happy post-gender world (that results in new record lows of women* in positions of relative influence and a superb 13.3 per cent of female* members in Berlin’s parliamentary Pirate group) or not.

In case you haven’t heard, the official name for gender quotas, according to one of the Pirate Party’s members of Berlin’s Senate, Gerwald Claus-Brunner, should be (*drum roll*) “Tits Bonus”.

He has now apologized for using this “inappropriate” and “sexist” term and for possibly offending or discriminating against anyone, and is now of the belief that the debate regarding gender quotas in his party is of importance.

Obviously, Gerwald’s grovelling to all the angry bonus tits (…you might call them “women*”) cannot be tolerated – and he’s facing some intra-party criticism for calling his prior evaluation of women’s biggest assets “sexist”.

Stephan V. believes that the expression wasn’t sexist, since expressions can never be anything; putting “tits bonus” in context, however, makes it kinda problematic, because it implied something along the lines of taking advantage. Uttering “bonus” was much more offensive than combining it with “tits”, Stephan V. muses on.

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Show Yourselves Out.

17 Mar

What is it with “conservative” people? Not even the term does their political agenda justice, because it is not about the conservation or preservation of any “traditions” that have shown to work out well for most people, it is about pushing an agenda of discrimination against anyone and anything who/that does not comply with their world views and/or their personal preferences.  If it is about conservation and preservation, it is about the conservation and preservation of kyriarchy, of white supremacy, of sexism – paired with the goal of not only keeping discriminatory structures the way they are, but of actively furthering them.

There have been studies that tried to show that prejudices are actually linked to a lower IQ. Personally, I think those are crap. Clearly, a lack of education seems to result in ignorance many times. This does not mean, however, that people who have not had the privilege of higher education are automatically discriminatory in their behaviour (yay, classism!), and nothing could be further from actual reality than claiming that people who are well-educated or (self-proclaimedly…) smart are automatically “liberal” or anything the like in their way of thinking. Indeed, trying to put people into boxes according to simplified schemes, like this study does, seems to be exactly what conservatives do, and yet, a strategy the academics who conducted this study employ just as well.

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For Never Was A Story Of More Woe…

24 Jan

In the week of the “Strike Against Sopa”, this seems to need repeating: the internet isn’t as anonymous as many people think it is. What people, particularly violently threatening trolls, do not seem to realize, is that there are a lot of features on a blog alone that tell you where they’re from. Obviously: IP address. Obviously:  trackbacks from other blogs. Obviously: the search terms people enter into google and other engines. Besides the usual, e.g., looking for my blog’s name or my pseudonym or some combination of feminism and race and misandry (brilliant!), the wake of the Blackface disaster has added a delightful phrase to the cluster of issues that led people here, namely: “making you think you’re racist.”

Before I ponder the implications, let me add that the wonderful thing about that phrase is that search engines will, almost exclusively, direct you to anti-racist blogs and 101s about white privilege and racist defensiveness, so that’s a plus! However, I think this phrase is too good to pass up, so…

I have never encountered more poorly executed defensiveness than when it comes to questions of racism and white privilege. Whereas the critique or mockery of sexism invites the occasional lazy troll or self-proclaimed MRA, the posts and comments one receives on anti-racist publications written by a woman of colour, be it online or offline, seem to take hypocrisy to a new height.

The good thing is: people do not want to be called racists. The bad thing is: they’re racists nonetheless. To bridge that cognitive dissonance between an anti-racist self-conception (and self-perception) and actually racist mindset and behaviour, the reproach that others are guilty of “reverse racism” or are out there to “make” you “think” you’re racist when you’re really, really not, seems to come in quite handy.

What the Schlosspark Theater refuses to acknowledge is the simple fact that it might be mind-boggling, but not uncommon to claim to be invested in anti-racist work, even stage anti-racist plays, and still employ racist schemes and practices. What the head of the theater, Dieter Hallervorden, refuses to acknowledge is that, despite his claims that his upbringing and education had eradicated every trace of racism, if he is told by people of colour that he is behaving in a racist manner, he is, and that telling hundreds of people of colour that they’re “wrong” and basically don’t have a grasp on the whole concept of discrimination is racist behaviour, too.

Things don’t always have to be as blatant as Newt Gingrich calling Barack Obama a “food stamp president” and other thinly veiled, racially charged insults to make him popular with conservative whites, but the mechanism of putting something like that phrase out there and then denying any link to racist imagery or context or history is an old strategy, and thinking you’re making an original rebel point with that gets very boring for people of colour – been there, done that.

Complaining about the increasing pushback people get for employing well-known racist strategies like these is also old and boring – I am not “making you think you’re racist”; you don’t think you’re racist, and, despite every piece of evidence to the contrary, you refuse to acknowledge that you are. If the links to historical traditions, context and present realities stifle every potential of racism denial, here comes the tone argument: you’re being mean! You’re being arrogant! Why won’t you educate me?! I am unable to learn unless you educate me! You’re being hostile! This is reverse racism!

If the tone argument fails, here comes the phrasing argument:  notwithstanding the fact that german right-wingers are notorious for their poor grasp on the german language and abysmal grammatical skills, what they have in common with the average, middle-class white defender of racist practices is the love of certain stylistic devices and tropes your arguments are supposed to entail (to prove your cultural germanness) to even be acknowledged. If people do not have a firm knowledge of the lily-white canon of german writers one encounters at school and have at least five Goethe quotes up their sleeve, they do not have to be listened to. If you are not aware of certain bourgeois language codes and standard formulations of dissent, you are, according to this reasoning, automatically wrong. The irony that people who know these language codes are only those who had the (mis)fortune to be educated in a culture steeped in white privilege and are now (un)happy to perpetuate it when engaging in discussions and strategically using it, is somehow lost on the self-proclaimed anti-racist cultivated, and further exposes the imagined, multi-leveled interweaving of skin colour and intellectual and personal credibility.

When the phrasing argument fails, people then resort to the strategy of whining: You can’t say anything anymore these days, why is everyone so oversensitive? Why can’t I call you a german-speaking African? Why is Dave Chappelle allowed to put white paint on his face for a skit, but when I want to do it the other way around, it’s Blackface? Why won’t you acknowledge how hard it is to be a german (= a white, blonde, blue-eyed person) in certain quarters in Berlin? You can’t have this be a one way street, this is reverse racism!

Yes, you are right: ’tis very reminiscent of Nice Guys’™ whining about the fact that they’re actually really good people, but women are just so messed up that they will only date Bad Boys™ , because even Hitler had a girlfriend, but you’re making them think they’re sexist! Why is it not okay to post this photo (more takes on this here at Womanist Musings and here at Beauty Is Inside)? Why is it not totally emancipatory to post opposing/competing pictures of skinny and beefy, white, “able”-bodied, cis gals and then rate those women’s hotness, when the fatter ladies win the contest for once? I’m only doing this to make you ladies feel better because you feel so objectified! Don’t feel bad about your body, men love real curves! Your critique is ridiculous and you’re doing feminism wrong! I interrupt you, mock you and belittle you only because I want to liberate women! I am constantly angry at you because you just don’t understand how much of an ally I really am! Why aren’t you showing me the gratitude I’m entitled to? Also, you posted that pic of that famous dude you fancy just the other day, so you’re a total reverse sexist… Gotcha!

Nevermind the stunning personal overlap, these schemes seem to be closely related (if not actually similar): people claim they’re anti-racist/anti-sexist/anti-heterosexist, etc., and, thus, they just magically are. It’s a personal decision, apparently: once you’ve claimed that you’re not a racist, you couldn’t possibly be one. And people who call you a racist are simply out there to “make you think you’re racist”, because they’re “reverse racists”. People who criticize your idea of Nice Guy™-dom and your decision that no matter what you do or say or how you treat women*, you’re a feminist/anti-sexist, are “reverse sexists” who don’t give a damn about teh menz; misandrists even, who are here to make you think you’re sexist, even though you’re really not. Hence: the world is full of mean people out to get you, and life is really hard as a white, anti-sexist, anti-racist man* surrounded by all those vindictive, cold-hearted, fat, brown hyperfeminists. Who is the real victim now, huh?!

So… is this numerously encountered whining mechanism pure (be it self-conscious or not) defensiveness when being faced with reproaches one cannot rebut? Is it pure ignorance and indifference? What exactly makes people react this viciously to criticism that concerns the intersection of race and gender (and sexual orientation, more often than not)? Is it a feeling of being caught in the act, of feeling exposed in a bath of privilege? Is it that feeling of having your innermost self-conception questioned, of seemingly losing alleged fundamental parts of your identity, e.g., anti-racism and anti-sexism? Is it the funny feeling of being shown what a lack of self-reflexivity does to you?

People fuck up all the time. I fuck up all the time. Although running the risk of making this a personal purging tale (as it so often happens with white women trying to show their anti-racist credentials through their life stories, told on the backs of women of colour…), I can tell you that, despite having thought that I was a “tolerant person”™ (yes, eeew…) when it comes to transgender rights, for example, I would say that I have been the most horribly exoticising asshole possible, all whilst thinking these people are so great and brave and I totally support them. That is not something that goes away over night, but is something one has to work on, and one needs to get balanced with repeatedly. What helps in keeping this behaviour in check, hopefully? Not thinking that you’re an expert in a field you know absolutely nothing about. Or claiming that you know just as much as people who have to freaking live it, because you once read that book. Or thinking that because you’re discriminated against as a XYZ, you know exactly what others go through. Um… no. ‘Tis that intersectionality thing again, I’m afraid… Being discriminated against in one or two or fifty social dimensions doesn’t make discriminatory behaviour in others magically vanish, although it shifts the constellation.

Of course there is a qualitative difference between being an out-in-the-open racist or cis-sexist and being a tolerant person™ who supposedly does not judge or question other people’s personal decisions and self-conceptions and identities, but the effects of privileged behaviour are basically the same. You and I still discriminate and are still assholes, no matter if we define ourselves as explicitly anti-sexist or anti-racist or anti-cis-sexist. If people who are discriminated against tell you that you are behaving like an asshole, then you are. Period. No discussion needed. Denying your discriminatory behaviour does not improve anything. Whining about how evil all these people are against you does not improve anything. Here’s what helps:  stop making it all about you. Stop telling other people what they should really be thinking or feeling, and why they’re wrong if they say you’re discriminating against them. Stop being defensive, and, you know, actually, stop talking.  Listen. No, really, listen. Because no matter how many times you reiterate that there never was a story of more woe than your plight as a white, heterosexual, german cis man – it won’t get more credibility, it won’t become less ridiculous. The basic formula, discrimination = prejudice and power, is an easy one to learn. And that’s why claims that people are suffering from “reverse” racism/sexism/whatever are so freaking annoying, and that’s why I am not “making you think” you’re discriminating. You are doing it all by yourself, hun.

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