3/3/2013

Dear Mr. President,

We are astonished and appalled after reading your latest comments on the sexism debate in the German weekly "SPIEGEL". Your point of view concerns us and we are seeking a conversation with you.

First: the debate around Rainer Brüderle’s conduct can not be compared with the subsequent sexism debate. By doing so, one reduces a structural problem to a single incident. The Brüderle case was simply a spark for a long overdue public discussion. Sexism is an everyday issue that affects everyone. For many it is part of daily life at work, at their schools or universities, on the street; in their private lives, as well as in public space. Those who have followed the recent debate closely, had to come to the conclusion that sexism is a societal issue that affects countless people. Many of our European neighbours and other countries all around the world are engaged in similar debates, which proves how critical this topic is in regard to matters such as equality, coexistence and freedom.

We expect a president to weigh in on the concerns of his or her citizens in the public debate comprehensively and to take up position. In particular, we miss sensitivity and respect towards all the many women who have experienced sexism in your remarks. These lack awareness of social issues such as sexism. Instead of actually acknowledging the reasons for the discussion in which many people are currently participating, you simply state that you cannot identify a “serious, nation-wide misconduct of men towards women.” This notion of collective male guilt is exactly what supporters of #Aufschrei do not endorse. The sheer volume of experiences brought to light exemplifies that sexism and sexual assault are part of a collective structurally supported phenomenon.

Sexual assaults and sexism usually happen within hierarchies; higher positions within businesses and society are abused, and the reliance of individiuals towards others is exploited. The everyday experiences which were made public during “#Aufschrei” are backed up by scientific evidence: the study "Lebenssituation, Sicherheit und Gesundheit von Frauen" (Living Situation, Safety and Health of Women), launched by "Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend” (the German federal ministry for family, seniors, women and the youth or BMFSFJ), concludes that 58 % of all women involved in the study had experienced sexual harassment. These anonymous statistics have now been turned into concrete reports about experiences thanks to “#Aufschrei” and the following debate. These events should sadden us all, but also encourage us to take action. Every person has the responsibility to make a difference within society, and the political system has this responsibility aswell. Because you are right by concluding that cooperation without engagement does not work. This was the reason to start “#Aufschrei”.

Dismissing the debate around sexism by calling it exaggerated and a media hype not only does not do it justice but also treats it with contempt. Your judgement contradicts your wish for more political engagement by German citizens. Instead of addressing the problems of people that live here, you referred to the recent conflict in Mali; this however is a comparison that nobody should draw and only turns attention away from both issues. However, there is one point on which you are spot on: we are wasting time discussing the words of a single politician. Though, this is symptomatic and aligns perfectly with your objective: we can move this debate forward from discussing single incidents to the core of the issue only together and with the help of opinion leaders like you. Many citizens have proven that this issue is serious by sharing their stories, and even your fellow politicians have called for broad engagement. We don’t see this importance reflected in either your words or actions.

Using the word “Tugendfuror” (literally “fury of virtue”) you connect humiliating, injuring and traumatising experiences and the willingness to make these experience finally public, with the term “Furie” (“fury”). This derogatory term, much like “Hysterie” (“hysteria”), ridicules the anger of women and wrongly classifies it as being over-emotional. This only furthers centuries-old stereotypes of women – stereotypes that maintain sexist structures and stand in the way of gender justice. The supporters of “#Aufschrei” don’t call for outdated virtues, the opposite is true: we desire modern role models and gender equality. For us, this means that everyone of us can move freely, without the threat of being harassed or treated derogatorily, or to experience violence. The term “Tugend” (“virtue”) may have been appropriate during the time of “Emilia Galotti” where fathers decided which husbands their daughters should marry, but it is inappropriate for the people within this emancipatory movement. Other virtues which were expected from women in that time in history were to humbly lower their heads in the presence of men, to never have an opinion and to be “a virgin” until they were married. These perceptions of women need to belong to the past.

We ask to respect the emotions and experiences of the victims, and the work of the people who are committed to battle gender inequality. Many women have been silent too long and only recently have shown the courage to share their experiences. The vehemence stems from the massive amount of experiences that were made visible here. And this is exactly the reason why we must make sure that these experiences are taken seriously. At this point it is more then ever appropriate to listen, and stand in solidarity. This is a form of freedom as well: the freedom to talk about these experiences. It is not appropriate for someone in your position to publicly devalue these experiences and to make the courage of these people insignificant.

It concerns us deeply that you, as the President of the Federal Republic of Germany and an advocate of freedom, are distancing yourself from such an important debate and do not treat it as an important topic. This isn’t an “issue of women’s rights”, but a matter of gender equality which is grounded in the Constitution. Gender justice can only happen when everybody plays their part and takes responsibility – “this step should be taken by the entire society”, as you said so well. Maybe you should use the week before International Women’s Day to support the women in this country, and you should encourage to change this society so all people are able to live in freedom and with dignity.

We have added a scientific commentary by the University of Bielefeld and a selection of personal reports. Speak with the women around you, invite them to share their opinions and experiences. Read the stories told on twitter tagged #Aufschrei and posted on Alltagssexismus.de. Read them and listen carefully, then try again to call them a "furor of virtue" without further significance.

We'd like to end this letter with one of your quotes: "Together we should accept responsibility and take it seriously. We also have to correct each other when something is not working out the way it should". On that note: We are looking forward hearing from you!

With kind regards,





2524 supporters
Christiane Friedrich (from Berlin)
12.03.2013

Lynn Koch
12.03.2013

Bennung Mari
12.03.2013

Annalis Schürmann (from 45537 Dinslaken)
12.03.2013

Evelyne Hohmann (from Berlin)
12.03.2013

Lea Diederichsen
12.03.2013

Katja Wiesenthal (from Düsseldorf)
12.03.2013

Wieso bewertet ein Mann, wie Frauen sich fühlen bei körperlichen und verbalen Übergriffen und was das mit ihnen macht? Einfach absurd!

Arne Schiever
12.03.2013

Natalie Schneider (from München)
12.03.2013

Sylvia Breithaupt (from Berlin)
12.03.2013

G. Grote-Kux (from Berlin)
12.03.2013

Heidrun Stiller (from Pößneck)
12.03.2013

Im Brief ist alles gesagt - das ist auch meine Meinung dazu.

Antje Ritter (from Grabow, Mecklenburg)
12.03.2013

Silvia Koberstädt (from Schleiz)
12.03.2013

Als Gleichstellungsbeauftragte ist es mir ein persönliches und berufliches Anliegen, dass die Debatte weitergeführt wird und zu praktikablen Lösungen in der gesellschaft führt.

Sophia Hartmann (from Göttingen)
12.03.2013

Thomas Fleischmann (from Regensburg)
12.03.2013

Dr. Gisela Pravda (from Berlin)
12.03.2013

Anna (from Münse)
11.03.2013

Margret Finkbeiner
11.03.2013

Rosmarie P.
11.03.2013

Iris N.
11.03.2013

Michelle N.
11.03.2013

Kristin N.
11.03.2013

Nicole N.
11.03.2013

Monika B.
11.03.2013

Irmgard H.
11.03.2013

Gunda K.
11.03.2013

Thilo (from Frankfurt)
11.03.2013

martina jasching
11.03.2013

Alexandra Oerter
11.03.2013

Maren Zindel (from Hamburg)
11.03.2013

Weil Sexismus kein Privatproblem ist.

Anne Schwedat
11.03.2013

Patricia Schnell (from Tübingen)
11.03.2013

Gillian Kriehn
11.03.2013

Samantha Höyng (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Monika Wagner
11.03.2013

Weil solcher Mangel an Verständnis für jemanden in diesem Amt nicht vertretbar ist.

Elena Hahn (from München)
11.03.2013

Heike Eggerts
11.03.2013

Florian Reske (from Aachen)
11.03.2013

Helga Hentschel (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Christian Lange (from Frankfurt)
11.03.2013

Weil es leider notwendig ist.

Marcus Blanck (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Ich habe zwei Kinder die in einer Gesellschaft auwachsen sollen, die von Menschen, Männer und Frauen, gestaltet wird und die Menschen, Männern und Frauen, Heimat ist. Verantwortliches Handeln macht Menschen nicht zu Objekten, weder zu "Sexobjekten" noch zu Objekten, denen Ausgrenzung, Gewalt, Entwürdigung angetan werden darf. Wenn dies geschieht, wenn wir Menschen zu Objekten unseres Handelns machen, ist das auf jeden Falle ernst zu nehem und eine Dabatte dazu darf nicht bagatellisiert werden.

Beate Nopens
11.03.2013

Ziegenhorn, Janette
11.03.2013

Julika Mimkes (from Göttingen)
11.03.2013

Jochen Setz
11.03.2013

Anselm Laube (from Paris)
11.03.2013

Jens Günther
11.03.2013

... weil die 1950er und frühere Jahre kein Vorbild für unser heutiges Zusammenleben sein sollten.

Sonja Gräber-Magocsi (from Hamburg)
11.03.2013

Weil ich von dem (m.E. erschreckend großen) Teil der -öffentlichen und privaten- Stimmen, die auf die Sexismus-Debatte abfällig, abwiegelnd, verständnislos, aggressiv oder hämisch reagieren, entsetzt bin und mir insbesondere von meinem Bundespräsidenten mehr und Nachhaltiges erwarte.

Marie Kim Juhl (from Dortmund)
11.03.2013

Lea Nitsche
11.03.2013

Stefanie Schulz
11.03.2013

Magdalena Schweizer (from Freiburg)
11.03.2013

Silke Koralus (from München)
11.03.2013

weil es überfällig ist sich mit dem Thema ernsthaft zu befassen.

Bianca Strzeja (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Yvonne Gralla (from Duisburg)
11.03.2013

Elena Brandt (from Düsseldorf)
11.03.2013

Nicoletta Hirsch (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Ulrike Penk (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Luise Walter (from Dresden)
11.03.2013

Carola Mühleisen (from Bayreuth)
11.03.2013

Diana Ebersberger (from Bremen)
11.03.2013

Werner Bolz (from 66763 Dillingen)
11.03.2013

Katja Göhring
11.03.2013

eva gottwalles (from berlin)
11.03.2013

Katja Dittrich (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Matthias Tellen
11.03.2013

Jonas Pietsch
11.03.2013

Barbara Brockmann (from Köln)
11.03.2013

Leo Bellersen (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Andreas Levers (from Potsdam)
11.03.2013

Hannes Tydén (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Lutz Hallay (from Dinslaken)
11.03.2013

Kati Krause (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Christiane Link (from London)
11.03.2013

Silvia Metin (from Fulda)
11.03.2013

weils reicht!!

Patricia Cammarata (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

Lea Neubert
11.03.2013

Dr. med. Thomas Leske (75 J.) (from Hamburg)
11.03.2013

.... weil ich schon als männliches Kind gefühlt habe, dass etwas nicht stimmte, wenn meine Mutter sich mit tiefem Abscheu über Feministinnen ausließ, die sie als"Blaustrümpfe" beschimpfte. Heute weiss ich, dass in dieser Haltung auch die Not enthalten war, dass sie mit der Idealisierung ihrer Mutterrolle überfordert war und die Feministinnen der "Fahnenflucht" verdächtigte. Darum, dass dieser Krieg endlich beendet wird, sollte sich unser Bundespräsident (der auch der Präsident der Frauen ist!) kümmern, statt von "Tugendfuror" zu schwafeln!

Dagmar Brennstuhl (from München)
11.03.2013

Georg Hoffmann (from Schliengen)
11.03.2013

Leider werden heute oft die Frauenbewegung und ihre bisherigen Erfolge als Selbstverständlichkeit abgetan oder sogar, wie bei Gauk geschehen, als gering eingeschätzt. Ich schätze diese Erfolge, die auch sehr viele Männer zu eigener Reflektion und eigenem Engagement herausgefordert und bewegt haben. Diese Männer sehen sehr gut, dass Sexismus weiterhin ein strukturelles und täglich erfahrbares Problem ist - und dass wir Männer auf ihre Weise davon betroffen und darin verwickelt sind. Ich wünsche Herr Gauck diese differenziere Sichtweise. Sie ist von einem angeblichen "Furor" meilenweit entfernt.

Maike Ehlers
11.03.2013

Ilka Borchardt (from Köln)
11.03.2013

Judith Cárdenas (from Ovelgönne)
11.03.2013

Stephanie Jonczyk (from Berlin)
11.03.2013

--
"Because equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who's confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.” ― Joss Whedon

Maike Böttcher (from Bremen)
10.03.2013

Weil die Äußerungen von Herrn Gauck mal wieder ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür sind, wie mit Sexismus umgegangen wird: Bagatellisierung, Verunglimpfung der Betroffenen, u.v.m - und ich habe es soooo satt!!!

Lucina Kothe-Zimmermann
10.03.2013

...in diesem Land wird sich nichts ändern, wenn wir unsere Töchter und Söhne auch in Zukunft nicht mit mehr Respekt und Anerkennung behandeln...

Kenny Nygaard (from Stade)
10.03.2013

E. K. (from Tübingen)
10.03.2013

Dr. B. Viezens
10.03.2013

Die Debatte um das Mädchen-T-Shirt "In Mathe bin ich Deko" (siehe Facebookseite von Otto) hat mir überdeutlich gezeigt, wie gut die Kritiker/innen argumentieren und mit welch abgrundtief sexistischen Vorurteilen und mit welcher Ahnungslosigkeit, um nicht zu sagen Dummheit in großen Teilen der Gesellschaft in Bezug auf Frauenfragen sie zu kämpfen haben. Das ist traurig für die Zukunft unserer Kinder, ob Mädchen oder Jungen.

Benjamin Ballmann
10.03.2013

Susanne Prill (from Rostock)
10.03.2013

Ganz offensichtlich hat die Diskussion der letzten Wochen eine ganz andere Energie als die üblichen Medienhypes. Es geht darum, wie wir miteinander leben und Gesellschaft gestalten wollen.

Elke Domaschk (from Kamenz)
10.03.2013

Carola Jüngling (from Murnau)
10.03.2013

Sheona Gillespie (from Erkelenz)
10.03.2013

Because I don't want my daughters facing the same sexism that my mother's generation faced, and that my generation face now.

Eckert Marion (from Offenbach)
10.03.2013

Monika Weber (from Darmstadt)
10.03.2013

Stefan Frank (from Bingen am Rhein)
10.03.2013

Heidi Pangratz (from Wipperfürth)
10.03.2013

Herr Gauck sollte sich schämen, ein gravierendes Problem, dass immerhin die Hälfte der Menschheit betrifft, als "Tugendfuror" zu verniedlichen.

Gabriele Offenbroich (from Düsseldorf)
10.03.2013

Extrem unterstützendwert!!!

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