Germany and the metoo debate

Germany and the metoo debate

Sometimes it’s the images from TV that come back to life. Katarina barley remembers a scene from the u.S. Series "hart aber herzlich" with robert wagner and stefanie powers, which she saw as a teenager. The woman asks the man in it what he loves most about her: "that you have never said no."

Another scene from barley’s tv memory: uschi glas, in a baggy mickey-mouse shirt, has been left by her husband. The girlfriend says: "just look at how you look, then it’s no wonder." Both was decades ago, it has burned itself with barley (49).

At berlinale, today’s SPD justice minister makes it clear: society should rethink role models. And that’s exactly what has happened in germany since the metoo debate about power, bullying and sexual abuse arose half a year ago. Unlike in the united states, virtually no prominent names have been dropped in germany, with the exception of dieter wedel.

But major scandals in politics, business or sports: do they not exist?? Or do those affected not want to talk about it out of fear?? Barley is also aware that it’s a good thing in many industries: she tells of a letter from 20 women in the insurance industry who reported on business trips to ubles – ranging from attractive remarks to invitations to the hotel room and threats if the women refuse to go. That still sounds like 1950s germany, as in the series "ku’damm 59," when women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts without asking their husbands.

A lot has changed in the film industry. Alliances like pro quote film get a lot of attention, the supporters of quotas are less ridiculed than before. There should be a contact point for the film industry for those affected, which is being pushed with money from the minister of culture, monika grutters. "Power and abuse have been silent accomplices for far too long," says grutters.

However, the only earthquake comparable to the USA occurred after the "zeit" reports with serious accusations against dieter wedel, which went as far as rape. He denies it at its core. It was the only prominent case in germany with serious consequences. Wedel lost his job as director of the bad hersfeld festival. In the industry, his behavior as a director was the subject of whispers for a long time, and many people knew about it. In the wake of metoo, he has been called to account in the media. Some say: pilloried. The justice investigates, with still open result.

There’s something going on – but not everyone is thrilled. Some see the relationship between men and women in danger – fear that both sexes can no longer deal with each other in a relaxed manner – is a new prudery even on the way?? What is still allowed to say – and what is not?

Former family minister kristina schroder (CDU) thinks the metoo debate is partly overshooting the mark and trying to "eradicate any overtones of attraction between the sexes". She considers "flippant remarks" or "stupid compliments" inappropriate, as she told the berlin newspaper "tagesspiegel". But she doesn’t believe that pushing borders even further will "make our country more livable.

Actor sebastian schipper sees the debate about sexism differently. "What kind of protective flirting is it supposed to be that makes the other person feel bad about themselves?" He asks in an interview with "spiegel online". He doesn’t think that his gender has anything to lose by metoo. "A few stupid old farts won’t learn," he sums up.

Some people are upset that alleged victims of sexual violence do not speak out until years later. The word "witch hunt" is used. After all, after such a long time, no one could prove what was – and what was not. Statement against statement. Presumption of innocence applies. A false suspicion can destroy livelihoods. No question, this is not an easy topic for the media either. When does the personal right of a suspected perpetrator enjoy greater protection than the interest in comprehensive reporting?? Always a gratuitous hike.

And the women who now say "me too" – they also have to put up with these questions: "why didn’t you go to the police back then??"Or "why did you keep silent for so long??"

Actor til schweiger recalls on "markus lanz" the "insane power" that wedel used to have. A "television god" he had been. "Where is this woman, who is already traumatized by what has been done to her, where is she supposed to get the courage to testify or take action against this ubermensch??", he defends one of the actresses who is making accusations today. Court reporter gisela friedrichsen, on the other hand, doesn’t understand why the women didn’t report the case to the police. "That would have been the end of it," she says.

An EU-wide study in 2014 found that only a fraction of women who have experienced sexual violence go to the police or seek help from other organizations. One reason is shame. Other victims believe that they can cope with the incident themselves or with the help of friends or family.

How will people look back on this time in 10 or 20 years?? When germany was debating whether it really all had to be: the female salutation on the savings bank form. The third sex. Marriage for all. The gender asterisk in the language ("teachers"), so that everyone feels meant.

Whether anyone will remember the failed compliment that made a berlin secretary of state feel attacked? Or to the allegedly misogynistic poem by eugen gomringer on a university facade? Much has been lumped together in the discussion about metoo. What will remain of it could one day become material for doctoral theses.


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