“The Head Scarf is the Flag of the Islamic Crusade.” ~ Alice Schwarzer
The other day I read an article in the New York Times about Alice Schwarzer, a prominent German feminist, known since the 1970s for her acitivties. The New York Times even called her “pioneering”. Pioneering? Alice Schwarzer was very much present during my childhood in Germany. She represents my mother’s generation – she appeared on various media and is still a major figure in German feminism.
In hindsight I see that many of Alice’s values were damaging to women in Germany and subverted them. Can Feminism be misogynistic? Yes it can. The ideas Alice brought into mainstream German culture were damaging not because women shall not demand fairness, justice and equality before the law, but because many of Alice’s ideas were ill thought through and played right into the hand of the very thing they were suppossedly against. Alice demanded that all women have paid work, but did not think of the consequences for mothers who had to handle now both to be socially accepted – jobs and children. Stay at home mums were instantly (and more then ever) degraded and now called backward, reactionary, damaging and dull. Instead of elevating all women, many found themselves yet again socially demoted. Women find neither much happiness nor much liberty under the Alice treatment, worse so, they were silently burdened with yet more injustices. Alice demanded equal parenting by men and women, but did so by socially de-valueing women who are mothers and by downgrading motherhood. This weakened families and women. On the back of her arguments about equality and against mothers as natural prime carers of babies and small children a new breed of emotionally perverted men arose (many of them are now far-rightists who are part of various “new men” and “fathers for justice” groups) that found a new social acceptance to take small children away from their mothers. Countless abused women lost custody of their children thanks to Alice’s ideological ground work. Sure, it is unlikely this happened intentionally – Alice just followed ideas from US feminist thinkers like Camille Pagilla, who demands since the 80s that women have to “men up” and compete. Alas.. children, families, motherhood and women hood are a special place after all and we women were very badly prepared for the neo-liberal treatment that came over us since the 1990s.
Perhaps there is something you do not understand, Alice. That in dignity a woman can find liberation.
We women were told we got equal rights at a court of law, but we found out soon enough that reality is very different. We only get justice if we got money or a training as a lawyer. Justice is not given to us freely after all. Alice also protested most famously the right to abortion and in the process devalued female sexuality by pushing sexuality and conception entirely into the profane section. And now? Sexuality has become somewhat of a weird joke in broader Western society, and young girls are more vulnerable and more are sexually exploited then ever. Prostitution has been legalized in Germany and Berlin became the prostitution capital of the Europe. I am not saying that Alice wanted prostitution, but her arguments were taken and something else was made out of it in the mainstream. She just doesn’t think things through, our Alice.
Alice’s response to the failures of her own ideologies and the twistedness that is part and parcel of Liberal Feminism, was to blame Islam, and immigrants. Brown immigrants in particular. And women. Muslim women. Muslim women according to Alice bring Feminism down. Because Muslim women are oppressed and give their oppression forward. How convinient, as her career was about to fall into the dust bin, Alice discovered Muslim women and Islam to slander. She calls Islam a fascist ideology. Now she is one of the most promiment anti-Islam voices in Germany. Alice is mainly known for her work in this field these days. Her own brand of Anti-Muslim-Far Right-Feminism. She does not talk about the corporate Nazi-networks that brought Putin, Trump, Netanhayu & Brexit into being, and kill people, and starve people, and mutilate people, and drive people to hate other people and in particular also women. She also does not talk about what happens to women in her own backyard, about poverty and injustice brought on by Neo-Liberalism, instead she talks about Islam being a fascist ideology. She serially states understanding for the Far Right, the AfD and various other racist groups and parties. She hates the Hijab, of course. It’s the flag on her shtick. When things in Cologne happened on New Years eve 2015/16 (allegedly young men of immigrant backgrounds were ganging up together and sexually assaulting women on a public square) it was yet another of her great ego moments. It gave her the opportunity to point out again how dangerous young Muslim men with their sickening sexual and patriarchal urges are. She aided the far-right propaganda campaign considerably and opened a feel good channel for left leaning voters to come over to the Far Right. Feminism as two faced hyjena. It was very disturbing to watch this unfold so neatly.
About 10 years ago I was approached by her staff for a job as editorial designer at her paper “Emma” that is based in Cologne (I used to work for The Guardian in London in a similar capacity). I was confronted with an “ideology” questionaire, to test my loyality to Alice. At the time I was creatively involved with Islam but had not yet entered spiritual practise. The questionaire was bewildering to put it politely. On grounds of some basic human decency I declined to participate. My best friend is a Hijabi Muslima, was always a Hijabi Muslima, and is the best human being I have ever met. She was discriminated against for wearing a Hijab. Every day. How could I possibly consider pledging allegence to a woman that slanders and targets women like my best friend? What crimes has my friend committed against women like Alice? Demonstrating to Alice her own inhumanity and hypocrisy perhaps? Her populist lies? Alice is so wrong on so many levels. When I think of it all I just want to crawl under a Hijab instantly and bite into it, out of anger and frustration, and because under a Hijab a woman can feel some sort of safety from women like Alice. Nagging, judging, slandering, pitching, bitching Alice.
We need many more voices, and much better female voices then such “feminists”. The problems we face right now globally arise on the back of corruption and hypocricy – extremism is in itself a sign of corruption and hypocricy. Islamic extremists are useful raging idiots, who are of unlimited use to the idiots on other extremist sides, and people like Alice who keeps on having an expanding career and sphere of influence on the back of women. It makes me wonder about many things.
Again, Islam is not the enemy. It is corruption and hypocricy. And dumbness. Irresponsible selfish dumbness.
Yes Alice. The Hijab is indeed the sign of the oppressed women of this world. Every woman who is mal-treated at her job, kicked by a sociopath, evicted from her home, ripped off by a greedy lawyer, abused in the corporate prison system, bereaved in family courts should wear one. Thanks to women like you, Alice, we shall not even be allowed that little bit of personal dignity anymore – to stand by ourselves in all our oppression and wear a piece of cloth on our heads as a sign of who we are. Perhaps there is something you do not understand, Alice. That in dignity a woman can find liberation.
Dedicated to my friend Ayshe.