Tag Archives: Abortion

Too Much Incense Makes People’s Brains Go Fuzzy.

29 Jun

Joachim Cardinal Meisner, the arcbishop of Cologne, has always been known to be an asshat. Not only did he casually equate abortion to the Shoah in a sermon and revoke an openly gay priest’s license to teach in his diocese, he makes it a point to express the most reactionary filth on a monthly basis. Catholicism – always a  pleasure…

This time, Meisner continues his personal crusade against abortion (and women in general, obviously). Since the repetitive mumbling of canonised fairy tales isn’t cutting it anymore when it comes to defending the church’s disproportional influence on german politics, Meisner has picked a more recent topic, germany’s nuclear phase-out programme, to make a point about “unborn life” [sic].

He asserts that whoever may be occasionally wondering about the country’s social and ecological future should be more concerned with abortion than with, uh… well… little incidents like Fukushima or Chernobyl; abortion happens to be the ultimate “daily, secretive worst case accident” of our times, in his view. Make sense?

In his little quest to equate women to nuclear power and abortions to nuclear accidents (does that mean my uterus can actually split atoms? Awesome!), he goes on to say that nuclear power stations are completely safe – as opposed to women, I presume, who are just so darn hard to control these days and certainly cannot be trusted when it comes to decisions regarding their own lives and bodies.

Completely safe…? Tell that to the prefecture Fukushima in Japan. Or to Harrisburg in the US. Or to Prypjat, near Chernobyl, in the Ukraine. Or to Seascale, near Sellafield, in the UK. Or to Biblis in Hesse in germany (…where the atomic pile Biblis A nearly tried to kill me when I was three years old, living 2 miles away). Although I guess nuclear disasters do look rather “meh…” compared to the biblical apocalypse?

Eager to make an impression (and he does alright), Meisner moves on to spread the lie that 8 million fetuses were aborted in the last decades in germany, thus “more than ten class rooms are wiped out everyday.” Actually, the number of abortions performed in germany last year was 110,440, and it has been basically consistent since 1996 (when the infamous §218 concerning abortion in germany’s penal code was altered after the german reunification, regulating the requirements for impunity for abortions in certain circumstances). Hence, as a rough calculation, there were about 1.6 million abortions within the past 15 years. If I was mean, I would say that Meisner obviously isn’t in touch with reality much (duh!), and his math skills are not up to speed either.

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You’re Blocking Me In.

22 Jun

Isn’t it curious who calls themselves “feminist” lately? Sure, not Kristina Schröder, germany’s current secretary for family, women and youth affairs (the one person you might have expected to do so) who pretty much is the most unsuitable and outright irritating person in that position since Angela Merkel and her frilly blouse twenty years ago.

Her predecessor, Ursula von der Leyen, however, a member of the conservative christian democratic union (CDU) and mother of seven children, had no problem claiming feminism (albeit in a conservative twist) as her brand, and was  the one to implement “Elterngeld” (which losely translates as “parents money,” federally sponsored monetary support for new parents who take a leave of absence from work during the first 12 to 14 months of their child’s life) and somewhat half-compulsary “Vätermonate” (“father’s months”, which means that for at least 2 out of the 14 months parents are entitled to “Elterngeld,” the other parent – usually the father – has to take a leave of absence from work to claim the money).

[I might add here that it’s funny how early this term, “father’s months,” has caught on, even though it’s not specified who of the parents (in the official definition: mother and father – this is without a doubt another rampantly heterosexist piece of legislation) has to take the shorter span of time doing care work, and it has always been an option to divide the months of “Elterngeld” equally between partners. Apparently, only 12 per cent of recent fathers are aware of or care about that fact [PDF, p. 20], however, and take more than 2 months off from their job  (although that may have more differentiated reasons, one of them usually being his higher salary than her’s; a fact which the secretary for women’s affairs, Schröder, does not give a damn about).]

However faulty, heterosexist and deeply steepd in neoliberal idea(l)s “Elterngeld” is, it has been marketed (and predominantly perceived) as a breakthrough of “gender equality,” as a new policy of modern (conservative) feminism, epitomised by germany’s first female chancellor, Angela Merkel, who is still being applauded for her every move by germany’s oldest feminist magazine, Emma. Incidentally, Merkel is a conservative, a member of the CDU, and was far from emphasising feminism in her political career at any point.

Despite the differences regarding the political system and political culture between germany and the US, the latter has obviously had its own (even more peculiar…) “conservative feminists” influx lately, most prominently by Michelle Bachmann, seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, and Sarah Palin (who secretly does the same, I guess). Although Jessica Valenti has written a great piece on why Palin’s brand of “mama grizzly” feminism can be labelled as a fake strategy to win over (allegedly) progressive voters whilst keeping the conservative ones with a simultaneous family-centred and anti-abortion stance,  it strikes me as interesting and noteworthy that women of the conservative persuasion seem to be able to take over the term “feminism” so easily (and willingly) and seemingly position themselves at the front of their political parties with great success.

Ruth Rosen has commented on the irony that (in many respects) ultraconservative women as the afore mentioned Tea Party icons would claim such a term, although “the religious right-wing had so successfully created an unattractive image of a feminist as a hairy, man-hating, lesbian who spouted equality, but really wanted to kill babies” during the 1980s.

Is it purely ironic, though? I’d say: Yes and No.

Yes, because the brand of feminism à la Palin and Bachmann is actually trying to void many of the term’s basic meanings. Just being a female politician does not make you a feminist (anymore…). If you are anti-abortion (or rather: pro forced-birth), you are not a (modern) feminist and have no business claiming that term for you. As Valenti has noted (and Palin & Co. repeatedly emphasised), the majority of “first wave” feminists were largely anti-abortion. I’d add: The majority of “first wave” feminists were also largely white supremacists. Hence, the sole advocacy for equal political rights does not make you a (modern) feminist; and ignoring ongoing feminist debates (within and around a movement that made it possible for Merkel et al. to stand where they stand today) for the past decades most certainly does not either.

Moreover, pursuing anti-feminist politics and/or ignoring discrimination excludes you from feminism – and it’s no surprise that the United Nations’ Report on gender discrimination in germany has come to the conclusion that “in significant areas,” the situation has actually been exacerbated rather than improved during the last years (although one has to obviously put that into global perspective). And ultimately, trying to void, re-brand and utilise ideas, histories and social movements for your own sake, after having fought and defamed them ferociously, makes this a really sad paradox, to say the least.

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