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How real is Marx?

“In the light of class oppression, must needs therefore understand the social pathology in the context of the conduct-shaping life experiences.”

This is a sentence that I used in nearly all my essays. Back then in university I was eager to include an analysis of socioeconomic status wherever possible. I felt that the main difference between me and my service users – why I was sitting across from them telling them what they needed to work on rather than the other way around – was, that I never had to work through that many stressors, especially financial ones.
And I don’t want to suggest that generally well-off people do not have to worry about paying the bills or what they can and can’t afford – but in my case, I never had to wonder where the next meal was going to come from or how I will pay for books. It’s a kind of playful worrying – will I get the chocolate chip or the lemon and poppy seed muffin? Maybe I was stressed out, but I still went home with a muffin – worst case scenario: high fibre muffin (Why anyone would eat such a muffin voluntarily still escapes me, but alright).

So ultimately, my financial worries never kept me from participation. They might’ve kept me from experiencing comfort, living luxuriously or enjoying as much as I could, but never from taking part.

Whilst on an ideological basis it always made sense to me, the traditional Marxian analysis of class did not quite fit what I was seeing. My friends who decided to stay in unqualified manual labour were doing quite alright. Of course, they knew that their wage wouldn’t suffice if they wanted to provide for their future family, but why should they worry about that now?
In my mind, the ‘working class’ was really not that afflicted with bad living conditions, but living decently. I still wasn’t quite sure where this left me, as my fierce insistence upon the importance of class slowly lost its basis – the workers did alright, didn’t they?

So, I had a hard time recognizing my privilege, until I read an article by EF1 a couple of weeks ago, which outline 6 ways to recognize said privilege. Particularly, 3 things stuck with me.

“I am able to pay for comfort
“I have enough money to shop for fresh fruit and veg
“I own a car or live somewhere, where there is a decent public transport system

The funny or rather bizarre thing is, I wasn’t quite able to grasp, that this wouldn’t be absolutely normal for everyone. At the heart of this is the fact, that money is never my first consideration. I cannot have everything I want, but I have everything I need, and I have it in a way that fits in my life.

The participation-theme comes up for me time and time again. In my hometown, there is a plan to open a bar with flexible prices, so people who do not have sufficient money can enjoy a night out. Again, I think about what I can drink in a bar, how often I can go out in a week, if I really need that kebab and the way home or if I’ll just make a sandwich at home – but I never have to question my ability to go in the first place.

That money can isolate and separate people that easily, then, is I think a really really scary thought. But, it gives me an insight, why I didn’t see or recognize the difference in status. I don’t live where they do, and I don’t go to the places they do.

The word ‘Echo-chamber’ is on everybody’s radar right now – but should we maybe talk more about social stratification and separation? Because how can get along, let alone fight for a common future, if we don’t occupy the same social spaces?


featured image: https://www.google.de/search?q=marx&tbm=isch&source=iu&pf=m&ictx=1&fir=o4_17mjOeM9HYM%253A%252C841QoaGqhFyH2M%252C_&usg=__NVgXMcQiq08MwxZ2S5zEUamHEJs%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjZzcTpkZbXAhVLZ1AKHUbeBfEQ_h0I4AEwFA#imgrc=o4_17mjOeM9HYM:

¹https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/everyday-class-privilege/

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The sea that we all drown in…

Some time ago I shared an amazing poem by the wonderful Guante about Toxic Masculinity and I was truly blown away by his forceful, emotional and compelling fight against the walls that restrain the growth of our boys and men.

Now, I (totally way too late) stumbled upon his poem tackling White Supremacy, that now with Donald Trump among others omitting to make white supremacists racist violence a priority in the US is more relevant than ever.

Let us not forget our past, history and fight with ‘fire and fury‘ for more justice, cohesion and liberty!

Enjoy!


Featured image: https://www.google.de/search?biw=1534&bih=760&tbm=isch&q=kyle+tran+myhre&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj31vyb6tbVAhUFLlAKHREwAs0QhyYINA#imgdii=PA6yZrVi12btbM:&imgrc=etW35gLyctq8GM:

Featured video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbwcXDunxA8

 

Concern trolling

The first time I heard the phrase ‘Thin Privilege‘, I had to read it twice and still didn’t quite manage to quite grasp the concept.
What do you mean Thin Privilege? It is not an unchangeable state of affairs, is it? Okay, surely some people might suffer from overweight due to their ill-health, but for many it seems to be a lifestyle choice. And it’s not like it’s really healthy either, is it?

I went something like this. A whole speech – where did that come from?

Admittedly, I think everyone has once seen a picture, which does not really seem healthy anymore. On the other hand, power to them, they should do what makes them happy and if that is posing confident with a bikini in front of a camera it shouldn’t really bother me, right?

Because although it might not for me, it is neither any of my concerns and doesn’t influence my day or life AT ALL.

Plus-sized models is another group that has been attacked for discouraging people from a healthy lifestyle. So, I googled what qualifies for plus-size and oh-surprise: There is no clear agreement on which size a plus-size model actually has. To be fair, it appears to be pretty easy to be larger than most of the models that one can see on the catwalk, because seriously: How many real-life women look like that?

An article by NPR in 20101 claims, that plus-sized models are about a size 12 (still ‘smaller’ than the average American Woman with a size 14!). If we just stop for a second to consider this – that what the fashion industry considers larger than normal is still not representative of our population – it becomes quite apparent that there is a lot wrong with the criticism about plus-sized modelling.

To imagine that we are still having discussions like this, after all the past fighting of women to be recognized for more than their outer appearance!

The very premise of people condemning what they call ‘obesity’ in these instances is, that they will supposedly help the person, as this person thereby can improve their health subsequently.

Let’s make this short – that’s some fucked up logic.
As if ‘larger’ people didn’t already know, what these people were going to tell them, because for every comment on the internet they will probably get two in the streets. Daily.
Also, it is really good for your mental health to be abused by strangers on the internet. How else would they know they need to lose weight to please the average joe?

Obesity isn’t healthy – fair enough. But if you are not their doctor or they specifically asked you about your opinion, shut up. People make decisions about their lives or live with in circumstances that make it either impossible or hard for them to conform to certain standards. Also, people most likely change their ways when they are supported and loved, and not shamed. If you are truly concerned, you don’t shame – you support. 


¹http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123604722#

featured image: https://www.google.de/search?q=concern+trolling&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiL8–ewtHVAhXIvxQKHYSTA4gQ_AUICigB&biw=1522&bih=710#imgrc=J4vr_1l_E9WH3M:

Why we shouldn’t talk about a hierarchy of oppression

In order to understand the world around us a bit better we oftentimes resort to concepts and models that aim to explain to us how the mechanisms and processes around a certain state of affairs are supposed to work.

If one then goes on to belief that this very set of beliefs can be used to explain the underlying reasons for pretty much everything (especially how society works), you got yourself an ideology.

But that’s no problem – very banally speaking, we all have one and make use of it every day. However, in social movements, at times people resort to a kind of blind faith in their view of the world.

The trouble then is, I think, that we have to recognize that we do not have equal access to all the information, meaning that our lived experiences shape the way we perceive the world to be. And as our lived experiences cannot be assumed to be representative, that skews our perspective.

So, ultimately, we might consider something different to be a priority, which might subsequently lead us to dismiss the struggles of others or view their fight as a diversion from ‘what really matters.

Admittedly, all of this sounds horribly theoretical, but it refers to a very real problem. For example, women of colour, who aimed to discuss racism were viewed as diverting attention in early feminism, just as women of colour, who aimed to add a gender analysis to the civil rights movement. These women, then, were caught in a double jeopardy, which nobody wanted to address. 

Moreover, we all celebrated, when marriage was made legal for same-sex couples and the media depicted it as one of the major advancements in the fight for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, however, what you might want to ask yourself is, which portion of society is most likely to use this recently won right? It is conceivably not the teenage transgender suicide victims, who we as a society don’t talk about half as much.

Therefore, arguably, when we depict one kind of oppression as the root of other all other forms of discrimination we deny, belittle and negate the experiences and struggle that people face. And while admittedly the idea of one single common harmful structure we all need to fight can be a powerful and enabling notion, argumentum e contrario this implies that one does not need to pay attention to all kinds of oppression, as in the case one would be able to abolish the underlying cause, all would disappear.

Nobody should be left alone with their struggle. This is why we should not create a hierarchy of discrimination.


Featured image:
http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tuw.edu%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2FHolacracy-FB-Image.png&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tuw.edu%2Fbusiness%2Fholacracy-breakdown-business-hierarchy%2F&docid=qPqHqXUfF5xM0M&tbnid=kfuvlqRF9ONvyM%3A&vet=10ahUKEwjM26KS9rDVAhXRJVAKHb_-DCoQMwg2KAcwBw..i&w=1200&h=627&bih=732&biw=1536&q=no hierarchy&ved=0ahUKEwjM26KS9rDVAhXRJVAKHb_-DCoQMwg2KAcwBw&iact=mrc&uact=8

 

 

 

 

Wage Gap – real, is it?

The Wage gap is an incredibly hotly debated topic and one could find people from every part of the spectrum either taking it at face value or completely refuting its very existence. As it seems to me, very little has been done to properly look at what there is to it.

That’s why, within this post I’m going to try to unbox this general confusion or rather will aim to draw out the parts of the wage, which are still useful in the context of a class/race/gender analysis.

First of all, the very notion of the calculation of the traditional wage gap theory, which is used at times (money made by all men dived by the money made by all women) is highly unscientific. This is, as it doesn’t aim to take account of confounding factors, i.e. other stuff which could lead us to believe there is a causal connection, when in reality the two things might be connected, but do not cause each other. However, this does not devalue the whole concept.

Usually, the main counter-argument trying to delegitamize the Wage Gap theory, is that women work less hard by choice, rather choosing to have kids, work part-time jobs or are just not as competitive go-getters as are their male peers. It cannot be refuted that men work more hours on average, but again this is a spurious association. There is literally no proof that this is a choice which is brought about by what we might call ‘femaleness’. One could even argue, that this is because women are pushed away from the labour market by social pressure, upbringing, education or a lack of accommodation of their needs.
If we do not give young women sufficient space and support to have their kids, but also thereafter to re-enter the labour market effectively, how on earth do we expect them to do so?

In fact, there are hundreds of testimonies to be found (e.g. Everyday Sexism¹) related to work-place sexism, ranging from unwanted sexual advances to refusal to hire women of childbearing age, as she could potentially have a child, which clearly sets her apart from her male peers.
Also, only to name one example, a good friend told me the story of how his boss refused to let the men in higher positions take their by law described days off for caring for their sick children, as “that’s something their wives need to do”, threatening to ‘reward’ them otherwise with less favourable treatment.

Furthermore, if you look to extend the wage gap analysis by a race axis, you will find that the more oppression one particular minority group faces, the less they earn².
And I think, this is the latest point, at which someone ought to say: “Well, wait a minute, that doesn’t quite add up anymore, does it?”. Because, historically, we know, that WOC for example (the least well payed) worked most, but were most likely to be very low-paying jobs.

Certainly, the very oversimplified notion of ‘every woman gets paid in every job this much less’ cannot be said to fully recognize the complicated dynamics of today’s labour market and has in part enabled sceptics of this concepts to blatantly refuse to believe in it. However, the simple fact is, it exists, and its existence can be noticed in three distinct ways.

1. Graduating from University, women are often paid less well than their male peers from the start, which can be seen by a study published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)³, which shows that this is a phenomenon, which does not have its origin in decision making, as often suggested. In Architecture, this difference can be as high as £3000.

2. Social Justice is largely about having choices and not suffering from things that pre-determine the choices one can make. So, when we say that the labour market does discriminate, then this does not always mean that this happens in the same job in the same position (although this of course can happen as well!). Mostly, this refers to the very fact that there are several factors making it more difficult to enter, remain and advance in the labour market for certain groups of people. These could be our notions of professionality4, acceptance of certain appearances, room for flexibility or social code.

3. Long before we enter the job market or just start to think about what we actually want to do with our life (“MUM! I graduate in 5 months, so I don’t need to think about applying to college now, besides, my plan as a performance clown will totally work!), we get subtle messages from our environment what we can do. Is it really something about women that that keeps them from entering STEM? Are men inherently unemotional, reserved and unsocial beings? Is that why we do not have that many male social workers, teachers and educators?
Not only is this limiting and hurtful, but also denies the amazing capacity of adaptation and plasticity that we as humans possess. 
The Wage Gap is also an Identity Gap and a Choices Gap, which not only keeps people from living up to what they truly want, but also thwart innovation and advancement in our society. As I hope, I might have partially shown that many of its representations have structural and cultural dimensions and it does not always come down to individual bigotry. But this is the very difficulty about much of the feminist struggle – it does not suffice to oppose harmful stereotypes and slurs – we need to change the world around us.


Featured image: https://www.google.de/search?q=wage+gap+myth&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjfwqSlsp_VAhVpDcAKHRk-C50Q_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=759#imgrc=D6k74ZPnpTQDmM: (modified)

1 https://everydaysexism.com/

2 http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/07/what-78-cents-wage-gap-means/

3 https://thetab.com/uk/2017/06/30/gender-pay-gap-by-degree-42260

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/08/does-google-unprofessional-hair-results-prove-algorithms-racist-5 https://thetab.com/uk/2017/06/30/gender-pay-gap-by-degree-42260

 

 

 

Don’t bother raising your hands…

Another one. Another victim to police brutality in the United States and again it was a black man, a man that was statistically much more likely to be the target of disproportionate excessive force unnecessary to maintain public order.

Many things in the case of Betty Jo Shelby are horribly familiar: A police officer with a history of use of excessive force, a black male without a weapon and following the trial an absolute lack of accountability1.

When I first heard about this tragedy I was, obviously, devastated. But then, I felt worse, after I read an article describing the justification for the police officer’s lethal conduct – she was scared.

Scared, that the weaponless big scary black man would harm her, with his hands in the air while she had her loaded gun in hand. Yeah, of course…

Funnily enough, victimhood is being put regularly to people who are actually struggling, you know, like people who are one major life event away from losing their homes or are way more likely to be attacked, belittled, devalued or fired simply because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or colour of their skin.

Yet the powerful can and do use it when and if it fits their agendas. We cannot describe calling out opressive treatment as victim culture, for victim culture is when one uses the role of the victim purposefully in order to gain some advantage of some sort. Brooke Turner’s father resorted to this strategy when he lamented his sons lack of appetite for steak after he violently raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. White supremacists and right-wing extremists resort to it when they justify their use of violence and brutality with the perceived threat to their culture and country. And also, not only Ms. Shelby but also the justice system is guilty of falling into this trap when she hid behind the stereotype of the powerless white woman although she held the gun in hand and represented law and order, which she so horribly failed to uphold.

Admittedly, a charge for murder could be questionable, but a ‘slap on the wrist’ is just not acceptable, even less considering the context of people labelling Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organisation as well as the reoccurring of unlawful killings like this. And this doesn’t even touch upon the pain and terror that the families of these victims have to go through because they will never see justice being served, solely because the perpetrator was a policeman or woman. This is not an easy topic, but surely if whole communities start to question not only the ability to keep them safe of the police force, but their very motivation to do so this is not a sustainable situation.

And we know, that the police relies on people from communities to supply them with information in order to do their job, because they simply cannot be everywhere all the time. Then, this is not even just an issue in terms of lost lives (as if this wasn’t enough!) but as well in terms of our communal cohesion, general security and ability to perform as a society.

Just now, we learned that leading up to one of the latest tragedies of London the Muslim community warned to police about the perpetrator, which just shows how important it is to integrate rather than divide2.

When the weakest in our society loose, we all do. This is because in this way we start to create a culture, in which it is acceptable not to cherish and celebrate what American patriots would call the 3 basic human rights set out by the American constitution: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These 3 things, however you’d like to phrase them, are what binds us together. (The irony that America, after establishing these great rights, then went on to enslave a lot of people and basically not bother about their life, liberty or happiness is not to be missed).

 

When we contribute to the stripping away of basic rights to our neighbours, the very people that might eat across from us in our favourite restaurant, play with their kids next to ours in the local park and go to the same open-mic night on a Wednesday, guess who is going to be next?

As I view it, the all-present theme in modern politics is the anger and frustration of disenfranchised people not seeing possibilities for themselves, their neighbourhoods and their children. This needs to be our concern, as we cannot allow any person within our society to have lesser rights or possibilities. However, I cannot fathom how buying into the illusion of isolationism and cultural division will help us to improvr.

To paraphrase the great Louis C.K.; The only time you should look into your neighbours bowl is to give them more if they don’t have enough.


featured image: https://www.google.de/search?biw=1536&bih=759&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=police+brutality+jo+shelby&oq=police+brutality+jo+shelby&gs_l=img.3…15671.17332.0.17509.10.10.0.0.0.0.156.1230.2j8.10.0….0…1.1.64.img..0.3.360…0j0i67k1j0i30k1j0i8i30k1j0i24k1.yzmhBwb9Q7M#imgrc=mtKnM-TY2wUDPM:

1 http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2017/05/tulsa_officer_betty_jo_shelby.html

2 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-attack-salman-abedi-uk-authorities-suicide-bomber-missed-opportunities-intelligence-a7755056.html

 

 

 

Between loaded guns, straightened arms and victimhood

Another one. Another victim to police brutality in the United States and again it was a black man, a man that was statistically much more likely to be the target of disproportionate excessive force unnecessary to maintain public order.

Many things in the case of Betty Jo Shelby are horribly familiar: A police officer with a history of use of excessive force, a black male without a weapon and following the trial an absolute lack of both conviction and accountability1.

When I first heard about this tragedy I was, obviously, devastated. But then, I felt worse, after I read an article describing the justification for the police officer’s lethal conduct – she was scared.

Scared, that the weaponless big scary black man would harm her, with his hands in the air while she had her loaded gun in hand. Yeah, of course…

Funnily enough, victimhood, or how it is called more often: ‘victim, much?!’, is being put regularly to people who are actually struggling, you know, like people who are one major life event away from losing their homes or are way more likely to be attacked, belittled, devalued or fired simply because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or colour of their skin.

Yet the powerful can and do use it when and if it fits their agendas. We cannot describe calling out subhuman treatment as victim culture, for victim culture is when one uses the role of the victim purposefully in order to gain some advantage of some sort. Brooke Turner’s father resorted to this strategy when he lamented his sons lack of appetite for steak after he violently raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. White supremacists and right-wing extremists resort to it when they justify their use of violence and brutality with the perceived threat to their culture and country. And also, not only Ms. Shelby but also the justice system is guilty of falling into this trap when she hid behind the stereotype of the powerless white woman although she held the gun in hand and represented law and order, which she so horribly failed to uphold.

Admittedly, a charge for murder could be questionable, but a ‘slap on the wrist’ is just not acceptable, even less considering the context of people labelling Black Lives Matter as a terrorist Organisation as well as the reoccurring and unlawful killings of innocent civilians. And this doesn’t even touch upon the pain and terror that the families of these victims have to go through because they will never see justice being served, solely because the perpetrator was a policeman or woman. This is not an easy topic, but surely if whole communities start to question not only the ability to keep them safe of the police force, but their very motivation to do so this is not a sustainable situation.

And we know, that the police relies on people from said communities to supply them with information in order to do their job, because they simply cannot be everywhere all the time. Then, this is not even just an issue in terms of lost lives (as if this wasn’t enough!) but as well in terms of our communal cohesion, general security and ability to perform as a society.

Just now, we learned that leading up to one of the latest tragedies of London the Muslim community warned to police about the perpetrator, which just shows how important it is to integrate rather than divide2.

When the weakest in our society loose, we all do. This is because in this way we start to create a culture, in which it is acceptable not to cherish and celebrate what American patriots would call the 3 basic human rights set out by the American constitution: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These 3 things, however you’d like to phrase them, are what binds us together – basic human qualities regardless of who we are. (The irony that the USA, after establishing these great rights, then went on to enslave a lot of people and basically not bother about their life, liberty or happiness is not to be missed but I’m getting off topic).

When we contribute to the stripping away of basic rights to our neighbours, the very people that might eat across from us in our favourite restaurant, play with their kids next to ours in the local park and go to the same open-mic night on a Wednesday, guess how is going to be next?

As a remember it, an all-present theme in modern politics is the anger and frustration of disenfranchised people not seeing possibilities for themselves, their neighbourhoods and their children, and I just don’t believe that we are going to be advance anything by buying into the illusion of isolationism and cultural division.

To paraphrase the great Louis C.K.; The only time you should look into your neighbours bowl is to give them more if they don’t have enough.


1 http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2017/05/tulsa_officer_betty_jo_shelby.html

2 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-attack-salman-abedi-uk-authorities-suicide-bomber-missed-opportunities-intelligence-a7755056.html

featured image: https://www.google.de/search?q=victimhood&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimpMa_ks_UAhWKQBQKHeSyCMIQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=759#imgrc=6ntKP3yraHm1lM:

 

Alt-Right on Facebook

Some time ago I read an article by The Independent1, which concerned itself with the growth of Alt-Right Groups on social media. This growth is in fact of such an exponential nature that it apparently outranks ISIS’s growth on Twitter (which appears to be their chosen social media platform). If this is really true, we should consider re-examining the amount of attention we pay to Islamic terrorism in relation to other threats infiltrating our communities. We have ample evidence that right extremist ideology can result in terrorist attacks, such as in the case of Alexandre Bissonnette2,  although of course we frame these events usually in the context of ‘lone wolves’, ‘mental instability’ and ‘isolated incidents’. Some have even argued3, that since 9/11 more people have been killed by white supremacist terrorism than by its brother stemming from a radicalized Islamic ideology.

Apparently, this Alt-Right networking predominantly takes place on Facebook. At the time, that sounded believable enough to me, and of course considering the shift in public discourse I would have classified some currently socially accepted narratives as part of the Alt-Right movement, such as Milo Yiannopoulos’s take on Black Lives Matter4.

For me, that was back then about the end of it until I stumbled upon a Facebook page called ‘God Emperor Trump’s Dank Meme Stash’, whose description advertised “We have the best memes, tremendous memes. Nobody has better memes than us”,  which made me laugh.
Naturally, I thought that this was a page designed to critically engage with Trump’s actions, narratives and policies via internet jokes – Boy, was I wrong!

They do, in fact, make use of memes as a way of expressing their opinion, but not only was the title of the group not chosen ironically but as well within this group I found a number of things that make to look upon Mr. Yiannopoulos opinions in a very different light by comparison.

I made a decision to abstain from posting any specific images here on this blog, because I know that minorities and those at the receiving end of discrimination and oppression are confronted with these and similar attitudes often enough in their life.

But I also believe, to appropriately engage with the realities of right-wing extremism, we need to know what we are up against. Not only to be able to assess accurately the threat it poses, but also to enable ourselves to go through a reality check, to burst our ‘bubble – even if it is really worrying and hurtful.

I myself was not aware that people could not only hold extreme opinions such as Holocaust denial, Antisemitism or White Supremacist Advocacy and express them that openly and without fear of some kind of social censorship. Of course I recognize that the Alt-Right always had spaces to proclaim these kind of opinions, however, in the past I experienced their arguments to be largely void of these extreme points within the public sphere.
Furthermore, it surprised me how easily these groups were to find – I did not actually have to look very hard.

But Facebook is not the only place where such messages have been found. Mic5 just published a video featuring white supremacist Richard Spencer articulating his belief that America really belongs to White Man.

On the one hand we of course need to oppose not only such attitudes but also the ideology behind it, on the other hand we need to be clear about what they are: terrorists. 
Terrorists commit vile acts on the basis of a flawed belief system. Please let us not allow their rhetoric to distract us from the fact that they make our communities less safe, not more. 
————————————————————————–

1 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/white-nationalist-movement-twitter-faster-growth-isis-islamic-state-study-a7223671.html

2http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/30/quebec-mosque-shooting-two-students-arrested-gun-attack-mosque/

3 http://nextshark.com/white-supremacists-killed-people-islamic-terrorists-u-s-since-911/

4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksRB4faMU7o

5 https://www.facebook.com/MicMedia/videos/1508081739214611/

 

Please, don’t left like this…

Last weekend I was camping with a group of friends and at one moment the conversation touched upon the French election and, in its development also the infamous faux-pas of Donald Trump’s press speaker Sean Spicer, in which he offered his opinion that Hitler, unlike Assad, never used chemical weapons against his own people1
A statement about which I, as a German, of course had quite a bit to say about. Apart from its comic and devastating dimension, I was left with the thought once again “How on earth did Trump win this election?”

It has been suggested by several people, such as Jonathan Pie2, that the fault is actually to be found within the left that have largely failed to live up to its own principles (freedom of speech, safe space for expression, empathy and tolerance) by silencing the voices of people that although on the first glance appear to be holding a substantial amount of privilege, have been betrayed by the system and are therefore largely disenfranchised.

Examples of these people can be found in the old mining towns and overall places which have not benefited from our economic system. It appears, that very often discourses which centres upon racist slurs or stereotypes and party programmes that are built around immigration seem to be a powerful political weapon in these areas. Subsequently, its inhabitants have been numerously characterised and described as racists, bigots, voting without holding the sufficient knowledge and to be low class.

The onion has published a video recently, in which a trump supporter that supposedly changed his opinion by reading feminist theory and going to a poetry slam, explains how this happened³. Quite obviously, this satiric video is supposed to critique the notion that many young left-wing activists espouse, that if these simpletons would just pick up the right book, of course they are going to agree with them, which is not only ignorant, arrogant but also plainly harmful for our society.

As Alexander Betts suggests in his TED talk about Brexit4, it is quite apparent that the arguments that appear convincing to us have very little impact on other parts of the population and our insistence and persistence on these arguments just show our inability to engage with the problems and issues that drive them both to the margins of society and into voting for far-right parties.

A very good example of this, in my opinion, is the east of Germany, where people have to deal with economic instability, lesser chances for their kids alongside uncertainty what the years to come will have in check for them. These people turned to the far-left in the past and recently to the far-right end to the spectrum, solely because these political parties appear to be offering something different to the established political landscape.

But honestly, who the hell can blame them? If you are not able to reach the basic necessities of life in a system that lives in abundance, what does that tell you about the success of our mainstream parties? And more importantly, what does it tell you about the left and the feminist movement? If we deny the validity of their attempt to assert themselves, to make themselves heard we, the oh-so-enlightened liberals and activists, commit the same kind of classism that in its beginnings thwarted the feminist movement. We cannot, simply cannot afford to do that.

So where do we go from here? In my view, the left needs to do a couple of things: While continuing to reject racist stereotypes and bigotry in current discourse, we need to go back to our basics: respect, free speech, non-discriminatory policies and human rights – regardless who this applies to, even if it is a white male. Because if a moment, which aspires to fight against injustices does not do so with regard to everyone, we are no better than the white female upper-class ‘feminists’ who denied their black sisters equal participation within their struggle for equality.


¹http://www.politico.eu/article/sean-spicer-claims-even-hitler-didnt-use-chemical-weapons-against-his-people/
²https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miE-kwQM0mo
³https://www.facebook.com/TheOnion/videos/10155397968279497/
4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcwuBo4PvE0
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I’m an feminists vs. I am pro-feminism

Today, more as a result of bored web browsing than anything else, I came across an article by Everyday Feminism1, in which its author, Drew Boling, contemplates whether he should get a tattoo of the all too familiar feminist symbol. His subsequent discussion with female feminists then leads him to question of the very notion of male feminists and whether they should not rather call themselves pro-feminism.

Drew furthermore claims, that what feminism has taught him is, that everything depends on its context. To me, however, there is shockingly little consideration of context within his argument. If we talk about a movement, that in its beginnings was hijacked by well-to-do white middle class women that wanted to achieve equal rights for men and women by for example creating employment possibilities for women whilst simultaneously disregarding the needs of women of colour and arguing that discussing racism was a diversion, the very notion of movement ownership seems awfully dangerous to me. Also, we should really know better than argue within the context of a male-female binary, because we know that this is harmful for everyone’s identity that is not represented within this dichotomy.

The idea of entrapment in sexist ideology, i.e. the idea that certain people need to fulfill certain roles based on their gender is to be rejected. Nevertheless, it needs be said that men do not suffer from sexism – they suffer from sexist discrimination and toxic masculinity. These means, while they have every right to be part of the movement and discuss the problem that affect them, we need to remember not to take over the conversation.

In the past, men and white people have been guilty of taking credit, taking up spaces and dominating conversations that essentially are to be had or pioneered by other groups of people. Men, at times, tend to be celebrated simply for proclaiming their feminist ideology, whereas women and women of colour especially, need to work way harder to achieve a similar amount of admiration.

But this is what we should be fighting, not attacking people who want to show openly that they support our cause.

Male feminist? Awesome!
Male feminist that talks over people who have valuable lived experiences that will enrich the discussion that he does not have to offer? Yeeeeah mate, we gotta talk…


1http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/04/men-calling-selves-feminists/

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