Should feminists evolve to egalitarianism


This text is in the form of an angry speech.


Dear Sir or Madam, dear assembled!


I was asked for a contribution on “(left) feminism as a liberation theory”, taking into account that “the knowledge of the theoretical problems in connection with gender relations is still astonishingly low in general”. I have to admit that this worries me in three ways. On the one hand: is that actually true? On the other hand: How is that possible? Finally: am I up to this request?

The first question will be answered provisionally by the hopefully lively discussion that will follow. The following explanations are devoted to the second question, and the third question mark is ambivalent towards an answer at the moment: Because a simple "yes" can be asserted somewhat immodestly as well as the impossibility to denote decades of theory in such a condensation and to reflect on the formation of politics and a history spanning centuries, even millennia. And last but not least, my perspective is closely linked to the women's movements, in order to educate them - in a double sense - it has to be done here. I assume that I am in a place where “taking sides” is not suspect, and I would like to provide information on some aspects - because it cannot be more at this moment - about gender relations as a political relation. I will try this, briefly describing the feminist theories, as well as dare to draw first smaller conclusions for the local context.

At the beginning, to be heard, a few mottos that immediately mark the mission:

And the exchange of riches takes place in reality (90%) among men. (Mascha Madörin) My dream is to be able to see through the eyes of a woman. (Gregor Gysi) Male imperialism either pushes women to their limits or, if it brings them up, makes them equal to men (homologous). (Jean-François Lyotard) The genders have become “irrelevant”, whose division of labor can claim the historical success of capitalism in Europe and the USA. For women, its globalization means that they do two-thirds of the world's work, while they receive only one-tenth of the male income: "If the women presented the bill for their work, the world would go bankrupt". (Gerburg Treusch-Dieter) Our entire society tries to neutralize otherness ... in the aseptic flow of communication, in the interactive effusion, in the illusion of exchange and contact. ... The whole spectrum of denied otherness arises again as a process of self-destruction. (Jean Baudrillard) We don't want a larger piece of the poisoned cake. (Devaki Jain) May I assume that what the Indian feminist means by the symbolism of the “cake” we all don't want here? Or maybe secretly?

“The teleology of the left, the only one that interests us - rightly or wrongly - may be talked about a lot and achieve favorable voting results in elections; Nevertheless, nobody lives by their values ​​and probably nobody is ready to give up their real living conditions because of that…. ”2 This perception, formulated 30 years ago, doesn't just sound up-to-date - don't you think so? - And it seems to repeat itself, against all impressions of fundamental changes of "the" left in recent times: the advanced (ego) individualization stops at nobody and nobody and voting results can be seen again. It's nice to sit in the European Parliament, for example. So it's about getting a piece of the "poisoned cake"?


Deluded participation


At this point we have already moved closer to the problem at hand. A little digression to a question that no longer seems to be asked traces the path to critical gender politics: Who is baking the “cake”? And who would like to take part in this coffee party? “Participation” is on everyone's lips today, in the mainstream as well as in alternative scenarios. So to sell cheaply and have it for free. But one more question asks what people want to participate in?

The ambiguity of “have part” and “participation” inherent in the term refers to a passive (= “have”) and an active (= “take”) side. Depending on taste and precision, a distinction can be made between “sharing something in common” and “having a say in the community”. Today, however, participation is often provided with the indivisibility of the literal in-dividual, which wants / has to participate there and here and elsewhere. What is more likely to be forgotten is the dialectic of co / determination and responsibility that is included - in the spirit of the citizen. Is an old virtue being turned post-Fordist here? The emperor's new clothes - now for everyone? Perhaps this is the trap that is the case. Since the neo-conservative turnaround, i.e. since the devaluation of institutionalized co-determination organizations, participation has been high in the neo-liberal dis / course: in the 'center' as well as in the peripheries. “Since the participation phase (collective agreements, co-determination, concerted actions) and its gratuities (jobs, minimum wages, social plans) have come to an inexorable end, the ethos of participation has risen continuously ... Those who have nothing left take what they get. "

But who determines the distribution (which is known to be anything but a redistribution), or the (extent) of this? Why does the "above" suddenly turn to participation from "below"? What “ruse of reason” is behind the general hymn of praise for participation? A democratic participation is gradually suggested, for which the strategy of self / empowerment (called self / empowerment), which is used everywhere today, is needed. This means that the participants have to learn to govern and regulate themselves. More clearly: You are stimulated to participate. The fear pointedly expressed: Are we living in a simulated democracy?

At this point, we are approaching the problem of gender democracy, which has not yet been achieved, “seriously” - understood in a substantial way. So I would like to jump into the deep end and refer to a forgotten (denied, repressed?) Political conception from the women's movement tradition, namely the feminist reflection and option for action that neither indulged in state feminism, party feminism nor equality feminism - although all of this was everyday political Necessity was definitely recognized - but which had a “radical” perspective of denying the given. Because an attitude of deep skepticism towards a patriarchal order - in the form of large and small real-life communities - that thrives on the exclusion of women, cannot freely or recklessly participate in something whose endeavor is to degrade the unsuitable and graduate those who are fit. To participate in something that suggests equality and means immanence in the system, that was not the business of the autonomous women (movement). In this interpretation, participation - despite the awareness of an inevitable (internalized) participation in the system - is not a positioning for effective changes. Because participation protects, through participation, not against collection. The insistence on difference / s - as the wanted offside, as the critical distance, as the renouncement of stirring the cake dough, as a distance to power (which lives from participating) - escapes uncontrollable norm conformities. Concepts such as resistance, dissidence and subversion would again be a good match for the mixture of anything other than realpolitik. “Sexless” leftists By now, those listening attentively among you may not have missed where my political heart was beating - and, albeit in a “transformed” way, has not yet come to a standstill. For a quarter of a century, my political activities related to self-organized women's groups and has its roots in the so-called autonomous women's movement, which meant, among other things, not to join any party, no matter how left-wing, progressive and women-friendly. "Party" of every stripe, that meant - and unfortunately still means - structural and thus substantive male dominance - and the denial of this fact through the unacknowledged and unreasonable equation of man and humanity as well as the accompanying assumption that "gender" supposedly does not matter (or . egalitarian) 4 It was evident that feminist women’s politics only made sense with women, and it was clear that the “revolutionary” perspective did not focus on class but on gender contradiction. The dissolution of male rule was ideal associated with the redemption of all non-domination, which is why the triad of “race, class and sex” has always been mentioned in the same breath as the markings of oppression and exploitation. To put it simply: The struggle against patriarchy was in the foreground because it is the background of capitalism and imperialism. There were innumerable disputes between left-wing and “radical” feminists - that fills half the bookshelves - and mostly led to delimitations - both theoretically and practically. For one strategy “only women” was too little, for the other the comrades were not enjoyable, especially their claim to the political representation of a universal humanism.

This perception is currently more or less on the losing side, as capitalism in its neoliberal outgrowths and ingrowns suggests the freedom of everyone to do what - and to be how - popular (is). At least in our wealthy territories. In this "freedom" and on the basis of won - and now taken for granted - women's basic rights, women's emancipation seems to have been achieved and thus to have become superfluous. Any public expression of a critical feminist point of view seems antiquated and embarrassing. All over. All over?

Radical left positions are probably not very different, or they are painted on the wall like the devil. A phenomenon peculiar to the spirit of the times can be noted: the condemnation of any political stance that positions itself as an (outdated) ideology while at the same time growing unease about and in the disproportionate conditions. A bon mot (as a fitting word) by Günter Anders (1964!) Can be linked: “Let's not be embarrassed. Let's be unfashionable. Let's talk about capitalism ”. I would like to add: let's not be embarrassed. Let's be unfashionable. Let's talk about sexism. At the moment my interest is growing towards more participation and thinking in “mixed” alternative contexts (and if then “left” - what else?), But without the popular parlor game - from left to middle to right - of clapping to applaud the women's movements. In view of the world situation - and the women in it - there is an urgency to grapple with criticism of social as well as capitalism and not to leave the gender issue “on the left” again. And that's why I'm standing here now - both prompted and voluntarily. And with no or less fear of contact than many young people or even some people of my generation that I know about an institutionalized left; Probably because there is no damage from party disciplines, because the great (also Marxist) master stories are mistrusted anyway, and because a feminist-influenced experience of life and knowledge protects against appropriation. Because, and this has to be said very clearly: the comrades and (most) practicing comrades (historically) gave a damn about the so-called women's question - because that garbage was not considered an essential part of improving the world.


Report from the women's movement


Feminist theories, women's and gender studies, and gender studies have filled entire libraries - and in the process also brought many contradicting things to light.7 But do not believe that this has found its way into the generally accepted scientific canon in any way. On the contrary - with the university reforms there is a downward trend and women's research - despite its fashionable appearance as gender expertise - is being relegated to the sidelines of special courses. But that would be a different story. But you will now understand that I can only present the complexity of the matter in a very reduced (and hopefully not redundant) way, so I have to make a choice.

I do this firstly by naming the different directions of women's movements and secondly by briefly presenting the different paradigms of feminist theories.

A political statement that in principle unites all theorems and practices could be as follows: “Feminism as transformative politics is aimed at changing social institutions, overcoming all forms of oppression, and not at creating more space for certain groups of women within existing structures . This policy is not only in the interests of all women, but of all people, but nevertheless - or precisely because of it - a challenge for the defenders of traditional patriarchal power structures. ”9 First: There are five chronological trends that can be traced back to the present day - and against each other like through and with each other. This is important to mention in order to emphasize that the women's movements were not authoritative, i.e. organized hierarchically, although of course there were always wild debates about the correct perspective in each case. liberal (bourgeois) feminisms equal social rights socialist feminisms class and production relations radical feminisms patriarchy, forced heterosexuality cultural (gynocentric) feminisms upgrading of female identity poststructuralist feminisms symbolic order;


"Doing gender"


These keywords must suffice here; but also in the brief they reflect the range of fighting / and thinking / arenas as well as the complex and interlocking levels of the subordinated status of women. An essential feature, because it differs from other alternative movements and critical sciences, is the inclusion of the private in the field of politics and in the sphere of reflection. The realization that the political is private and vice versa is one of the essential “achievements” of a political history of mentality in the 20th century and, since it addressed male violence, is “naturally” not recognized as such. Across from and within these divergent foci there were hot waves of debates about interpretative sovereignty, epistemological priorities, and political demands and goals.10 It should be remembered here of the debate on housework payments and the lesbian / hetero debate and the complicity debate and the subsistence economy debate and the debate on institutionalization and the debate on internationalization PorNodebatte and the migration debate. These are the highlights of a long, short story. General (global) dynamics produce large question marks. And some passed out anger. One of the substantial maxims of the women's movement - the self-determination of women - was discursively expropriated and twisted into the category of the neoliberal self, which is about optimizing its interests, or where it turns to sheer survival - and the latter again especially the one female existences. In terms of the history of ideas, this shift can also be grasped in the postmodern "subject" debate in the context of feminist theories. The struggle against oppression and exploitation was primarily directed against the female object status (equality feminism) and subsequently on the subject of women (difference feminism). At this historical moment - from the 80s onwards - a certain male "ruse of reason" under the sign of the beheading of the master man declared the subject dead, all authorship obsolete and progressive politics re-active. The advanced feminist theory gladly accepted this offer of dissolving the subject insofar as the concept of “femininity as alterity” should not be exhausted in the adaptation of a rigid, genuine, quasi-natural and prescribed female subject (deconstruction feminism).With the discursive turn towards the complete abolition of the subject woman as a mere inscribed and ascribed body - with its simultaneous dematerialization - the "woman" (and thus the subject of feminism) was discarded in favor of an identity that could never be fixed but was constantly self-determinable (construction or post-feminism).

At this point I cannot help but say that I have not yet come across a “normal” 11 man (in the collective) who has to ask himself whether he exists, is allowed to exist as such. Before I come to the last part, which will allow itself a personal-political assessment - including a small appeal - I would like to underline the need for a critical voice despite the internal post / feminist, difficult and sometimes painful disputes that have just been mentioned. It still harbors explosives, so to speak, the walls of the apparently self-evident are permanently crumbling, which requires and allows one to never come to rest.


Feminist education


Even if I have just announced a personal judgment, I do not want this to be understood privately and will therefore hopefully offer your ears, which are still inclined, some citations, as I rate them as very appropriate. Regarding gender relationships, the following can be said: “The term gender relationships should be suitable for critically examining how the sexes are interconnected in the overall relationship. It presupposes what is itself the result of the conditions to be examined: the existence of 'genders' in the sense of the historically found men and women. The complementarity in reproduction is the natural basis on which in the historical process is socially formed, including what is to be considered 'natural'. In this way, the sexes emerge from the social process as unequal, their non-equality becomes the basis for further transformations and gender relationships become fundamental regulatory relationships in all social formations. They traverse or are in turn central to questions of division of labor, rule, exploitation, ideology, politics, law, religion, morality, sexuality, body and senses, language, in fact, basically no area can be meaningfully investigated without the way in which gender relations form and be shaped, with exploring. It is only possible to refrain from this if at the same time - as is traditionally customary in science - one assumes that there is only one gender, the male gender, and that all relationships are to be represented as male. "

To women it is to be said: “They continue to stand up by working twice as long and harder as men, as if they were punishing themselves for being there. Unpaid in the family and underpaid at work, they are the last to be hired and the first to be fired, although the opposite has recently been insured. Nevertheless, women make up almost two thirds of all unemployed, welfare recipients, part-time workers and employees who are not subject to social security contributions, the majority of whom are single parents: however, they accept any double burden, even if it is exclusively at their own expense. Although women aim to gain their self-worth, it cannot be realized within this circle…. Because it is negated to the extent that nothing is more profitable than someone without value, who produces values ​​without - that is, they - receive at least the equivalent of social recognition for them. With regard to this, too, the opposite has now been assured: women, although still underrepresented, are present at all levels of society, including in business, science and politics. But this ‘also’ expresses the refusal of this recognition, which means that emancipation has so far never brought more than another ‘civilization’ of women without a single one of their demands being honored. "

Regarding the gender difference, it is to be said: “This is the way on which the man / human goes through the parable of the self. He finds and recognizes himself as what is special about his universalization. On the other hand, it happens to women that they only find themselves as something special, as that which is finally different, which is contained in the universal neuter human / man. ... The sexually limited in its masculine form, which universalizes itself by absolutizing itself, celebrates its gender in this self-absolutization process, but without acknowledging the difference that is rooted in it and the differentiation in which it consists to take. … For women it follows that they cannot recognize themselves in the thinking and in the language of a universal subject that does not include them, and even excludes them. ... Thus the woman is the universal 'human' with the 'addition' of the female gender. ... Thinking about the gender difference is therefore a difficult task, because it is subject to the extinction on the basis of which Western thinking is based and has developed. ”14 I summarize in five theses:

Gender relationships are socially produced relationships and regulate gender relationships as a relationship of domination. In terms of structure and content, politics is a "man's business". Men create “meaning”. What women do is undervalued and not recognized, no matter what and how much they toil. Up until now, emancipation has meant adapting to male standards. The West cannot know or think the difference between the sexes, since the man has set himself as a universal subject. In this meaning / interpretation "Feminism as a liberation theory for politicians and activists of the 'European Left'" is to be understood first and foremost as an epistemology and perception theory.

What can a European left, if it is willing, learn from feminist insights and prospects?

• “Re-Form the Revolution” would finally have to be understood in / with a feminist sense / s, since up to now all “revolutions”, this side of the bold, could live quite well with the “second sex”.

• Wanting to pursue a truly pluralistic policy means first of all not avoiding the gender contradiction, but working through it. Lip service of the usual kind, namely that you mean “women, migrants, homosexuals, disabled people, etc.” anyway, only refer to the fact that men do not appear in this equivalence chain, that is, they are predicted.

• This in turn shows that there is still talk of an alleged or voluntaristic substitute policy. And plurality threatens to degenerate into an empty - analogous to neoliberal ideology - pluralism.

• Feminism as political liberation theory - from what, where? A first suggestion: as the acceptance of women, as the acceptance of men. Which is not the same. The freedom of women would not be against something (men), but for something (women); The freedom of men would consist initially in the counter-something, namely to distance oneself from oneself as the general “self”.

• One conclusion: the institutionalization of political education processes that demand and promote self-determination and self-development in the “trialectic” of facts, collective relationships and subjective proportionalities: for men in the meaning of self-diagnosis - among other things, it would be against the repetition of the same eternal; for women in the meaning of self-confidence - with others it would be about resisting the eternal. How this would be concretely conceivable - this could be the subject of the next speech and many conversations.

For now I would like to add the words of the black, lesbian, feminist writer and activist Audre Lorde: “I am not free as long as one woman is unfree, even if she wears completely different shackles than me. I am not free as long as a single colored person is still in chains. And as long as you are not free either! "