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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
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German socialists respond to Cologne attacks – Sexism is not a foreign import

Dozens of women were sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve in Germany. But rather than connecting the events to everyday sexist violence, politicians and the media have turned to stoking up racism. Silke Stöckle and Marion Wegscheider respond in this article for German socialist group Marx21, translated by Kate Davison and re-published from Socialist Worker UK


Cologne cathedral, near where the biggest attack took place

Cologne cathedral, near where the biggest attack took place (Pic: Robin Geschonneck/Flickr)


 
The New Year’s Eve festivities in Cologne, Hamburg and other German cities witnessed a high number of sexual attacks on women including at least one alleged rape. Outrageously, the authorities in the first instance failed to take victims’ reports seriously.

Sexual violence against women in Germany is a large and long term problem. Women are frequently sexually harassed at large festivals including the Oktoberfest in Munich and the Carnival in Cologne.

One in seven women in Germany experiences sexual violence, according to a new study commissioned by the ministry of family affairs. One in four is exposed to domestic violence.

The perpetrators are almost always men, but no significant distinction according to religion, background, educational level or social status exists between them.

So there are more than enough reasons for an outcry over sexism and sexualised violence in Germany. But both phenomena are closely connected to the dominant image of women, and accordingly sexual assaults are all too often not taken seriously.

In Cologne local politicians have lectured victims about “rules of behaviour for mass gatherings”, as if they could have negotiated their way out of harm.

Women are continually portrayed as sexual objects in films, advertising and mass media. And women’s oppression is structurally anchored in our society, as shown by differences in pay, employment opportunities or dominant role models.

Politicians and the media establishment haven’t connected the events in Cologne and Hamburg to everyday sexist violence. Instead they have focused above all on the alleged perpetrators’ backgrounds and on questions of public security.

Where sexual molestation is acknowledged, it is only in relation to the “culture” in the perpetrators’ supposed countries of origin.

This has been used from the get-go, in line with a classic racist line of argument, to stereotype Muslims and refugees. Mainstream media and politicians are stoking pre-existing anti-Muslim racism and further strengthening a smear campaign against refugees.

The president of North Rhine-Westphalia region Hannelore Kraft said that foreign offenders must be deported. And the Sat1 TV network’s breakfast show featured the demand to “defend our values, way of life and beliefs” against “Muslim men”.

The relative silence about the many male bystanders and over 100 police officers present who did nothing to intervene—even with an undercover policewoman among the victims—speaks volumes.

The feminist Alice Schwarzer has long sympathised with conservatives and even expressed “understanding” for the core ideas of the racist Pegida movement. Now she is singing their tune, speaking of a misguided tolerance towards Muslim men, connecting the issue to terrorism and demanding compulsory integration for migrants

This debate has been ripe for the picking by the far right. Neo-Nazi groups and the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) demand Germany stop all refugee intake to protect “our women”. Street actions have been advertised on social media, some with calls for violence against “foreign” men.

Yet women must protect themselves from exactly these groups, which propagate or explicitly demand deeply misogynist social roles and structures for women.

The AfD is increasingly a collecting ground for Nazis. It fights to defend the heterosexual family as the only norm, rejecting same-sex marriage and putting women in the classic motherhood role.

It wants to further restrict access to abortion and organises campaigns against feminism and minimum quotas of women in public life. In the same hypocritical breath it claims that equality has already been reached.

Even the more moderate conservative party the CSU has wrapped itself in lies. It this week said that, “Whoever cannot accept respect for women cannot have a place here in Germany among our society”. The way it voted on the issue of rape in marriage in the not-too-distant past belies this.

The fact that the recent attacks occurred specifically in Cologne underlines the advanced polarisation of German society. This cathedral city is widely regarded as a liberal metropolis. Yet just one year ago it witnessed a march of 4,000 “Hooligans Against Salafists”.

Not least for this reason, the sexual attacks must be taken seriously and the perpetrators punished. We must all take to the streets against sexism and racism – as was done on 5 January before the Cologne cathedral.

We should demand of the media and the political parties that they take action against the ever-stronger right-wing groups instead of supporting them with untenable arguments.

The next central opportunity to take to the streets against the anti-feminist AfD will be International Women’s Day march on Saturday 6 March in Berlin.

There must be absolute clarity that women’s oppression in Germany is structurally determined. In the struggle for women’s rights, we can in no way allow ourselves to be divided by racism—we must confront both sexism and racism with equal determination.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in German on the Marx21 website. Translation by Kate Davison.

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Comments

Pingback from German socialists respond to Cologne attacks – Sexism is not a foreign import – WRITTEN BY JOHN PASSANT | winstonclose
Time January 9, 2016 at 11:56 am

[…] Posted by John, January 9th, 2016 – under Asylum seekers, Germany,Immigration, Racism, Refugees, sexism. Comments: none […]

Comment from Fred
Time January 10, 2016 at 11:04 am

When feminism and multiculturalism collide, which one takes precedence?

Comment from John
Time January 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Any examples? Of course it is a leading question on your part as a continuation of your role as a troll, deliberately disguising the racism of the Pediga fascists as some sort of attack on multiculturalism. It is a convenient mask for racism for people who have never before defended women to suddenly become feminists and proclaim themselves in favour of saving white women from the racist bogey, the non-white man. The answer? As Orwell said if there is hope it lies with the proles, to unite the oppressed behind the working class’s banner of liberation.

Comment from Fred
Time January 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Here’s one example – a taxpayer funded university rents out a conference room to a Muslim group that forces women to sit at the back.

Multiculturalism wins, women lose.

Comment from John
Time January 10, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Why just limit yourself to Muslims? Looking forward to your campaign against the various Christian churches that regard women as second class citizens. Of course the example is designed to further a racist agenda. The clash isn’t between multiculturalism and women but between reaction and liberation. I am on the side of the liberation of humanity, you are on the side of reaction and the ongoing oppression of women, non-whites, Muslims and others foreign to your way of thinking and your old white Australia. The guard is tired. Enough of your rubbish. Let’s return to the real issue – the fascists are using the sexual assaults to further racism and you support them with your nonsense and babble. Instead of stupid irrelevant trolling comments let’s address the central point of the article. As the authors say: ‘There must be absolute clarity that women’s oppression in Germany is structurally determined. In the struggle for women’s rights, we can in no way allow ourselves to be divided by racism—we must confront both sexism and racism with equal determination.’

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 11, 2016 at 8:59 am

I think men are protrayed as sexual objects as well. Porn sites are one of the main purveyors of any-o-sexuality and a promiscuous approach to life.

Comment from peter piper
Time January 11, 2016 at 9:25 am

You can skate around the subject for as long as your hypocritical ankles will hold you upright. Will there ever be a day when you are man enough to actually say “those muslims did something bad?” Your ’cause’ would be enhanced somewhat just by saying this behaviour was totally inexcusable – and not going into some sort of hysterical, hissy-fit everytime someone disagrees with your distorted view of the world.

Comment from John
Time January 11, 2016 at 9:33 am

Oh look, racist in chief Piper Piper comes in here to continue his anti-Islam diatribes. Here is what the article says, not what the racist wanker dreams. ‘… the sexual attacks must be taken seriously and the perpetrators punished. We must all take to the streets against sexism and racism – as was done on 5 January before the Cologne cathedral.’ I suggest next time, before you bring your usual racist nonsense to my blog, you actually READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE, YOU RACIST FUCKING MORON. You stick with the German Nazis. Go play on the reactionary and racist sites where you can circle jerk your racist and fascist mates.

Comment from John
Time January 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

‘Cologne should act as a wake up call to attack the gender violence that pervades all societies. It must not become a battle cry for those who oppose that idea that maybe, just maybe, we have a moral duty to those fleeing from genocide, famine and civil war. ‘

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/we-should-look-to-the-gender-of-the-cologne-attackers-not-their-race-a6801281.html

Comment from Jenny
Time January 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

Race and gender are both used to divide the working class. Thats what you have fallen for Peter. This case however is an organised, predetermined attack on women which is very disturbing. We dont really know who organised it but not many are newly arrived asylum seekers, if any at all. I have been pick pocketed some 40 years ago by a group of Blackmon in London, but my annoyance wasnt because they were black but that a group of men took advantage of me because I was a young woman. So the pickpocketing isn’t new. The sexual molestation on such a large scale is. The police chief has now been forced to resign because a) The women who complained on the night were ignored by the police and 2) there were not enough police on duty
I don’t see race as being the major factor here. I see it that women are more vulnerable in a crowded situation. You don’t have to choose though. You are not a woman Peter. It’s easy for you to treat the subject as something to have a provocative argument about.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 11, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Some people might like to argue that yellow stripers from Syria should stay and fight their own battles, instead of expecting young Australians to take a bullet for them.

Comment from lycaon
Time January 13, 2016 at 6:07 pm

The German Left Party luminary, Sarah Wagenknecht, said on the Cologne events in a press conference,

“Those who abuse their right to hospitality forfeit their right to hospitality” (Wer Gastrecht missbraucht, der hat das Gastrecht eben auch verwirkt”, adding this was “clearly the position of the Left Party”.

Article in German:

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/sahra-wagenknecht-zum-asylrecht-die-gast-rechte-a-1071614.html

Comment from John
Time January 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm

Just shows the degeneration of The Greens.

Comment from Lycaon
Time January 13, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Pardon? What has the degeneration of the Greens got to do with the statement by Sahra Wagenknecht quoted in Der Spiegel? Wagenknecht is Deputy Chairperson of the political lash up between the official Stalinist party of East Germany and dissident West German Social Democrats known as Die Linke or, in English, the Left Party.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahra_Wagenknecht

http://www.sahra-wagenknecht.de/

Comment from John
Time January 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Yes, I am getting old and losing it sometimes. I meant the ongoing degeneration of Die Linke.