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
Konstantin (from Spandau bei Berlin)
7.03.2013

Sarah Will (from Regensburg)
7.03.2013

Frühauf Andrea (from Dresden)
7.03.2013

Petra (from Hennicke)
7.03.2013

-- weil ich die Argumente des offenen Briefes klug und nachvollziehbar finde
-- weil ich es erschütternd finde, dass ein Bundespräsident so etwas banales und undurchdachtes sagt
-- weil ich möchte, dass die Debatte weitergeführt wird und sich die Dinge ändern

Dagmar Herrmann (from Bremen)
7.03.2013

Ich unterschreibe, weil ich empört bin, dass sich der höchste Repräsentant der Republik das drängende Anliegen der Frauen, das ENDLICH ein Thema geworden ist, da müsste man Brüderle geradezu dankbar sein, ins Lächerliche zieht und den Spieß UMDREHT. Das ist die typische Argumentation, mit der Frauen seit weiß ich wie vielen Jahrzehnten, seitdem sie ÜBERHAUPT was sagen dürfen, mundtot gemacht werden. Das Lächerlichmachen einer solch ernsten Angelegenheit, die Menschrechte betrifft, ist heutzutage die gewichtigste schärfste und wirksamste Waffe um unliebsame Themen abzuwürgen. So DARF ein Bundespräsident nicht reden!

Ralf Muschall (from Leipzig)
7.03.2013

Werner Limburg (from Erding)
7.03.2013

Dr. Ernst Reuß (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

weil die Selbstgerechtigkeit dieses eitlen alten Mannes unerträglich ist!

Brunhilde Raiser
7.03.2013

Christa Brenner-Nees (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Für mich war die Welt sozusagen in Ordnung, als ich ein Kind war. Als sich das änderte, kamen die Pfiffe, die Bemerkungen auf der Straße, obwohl ich durch die Kleidung nie ein Zeichen in die Richtung gab. Das hat mich alles sehr gedemütigt. Eher versteckte ich mich in der Kleidung.Man konnte nie darüber sprechen, und wenn ja, hieß es "Du bist ein Flintenweib, hast keinen Humor etc." Ab 40 wurde es besser. Ich begann, mich wie ein Mensch zu fühlen und jetzt, mit fast 60, gehts mir wieder prima. Gut an #aufschrei finde ich, dass Frauen sich das Thema erkämpften, das Sprachtabu ist die zweite Unterdrückung. Und- wir verdanken Frauen wie Alice Schwarzer verdammt viel!!!

Markus Denhoff (from Duisburg)
7.03.2013

Raffael Rönsch
7.03.2013

Sandra Stoll (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

weil sexismus uns alle was angeht

Christina-Johanne Schröder (from Berne)
7.03.2013

Henning Trentmann
7.03.2013

Sarah Günster (from Tübingen)
7.03.2013

Anneke Häger (from Potsdam)
7.03.2013

Iris Hertel
7.03.2013

Gesine Reinicke (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Weil der "Furor Teutonicus" auch schon ein politisch unkorrekter, diskriminierender Begriff war... (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furor_Teutonicus)...

Und weil ich "Tugend" im Sinne von "Tauglichkeit" für verlässliche Zusammenarbeit hin zu globaler, sozialer Gerechtigkeit für ein essenzielles Konzept halte...

... darum juckt es mich fast, mehr "Tugendfuror" zu fordern. Aber vorher: Aufbruch zum Umdenken!

Heidrun Bockmeyer (from Ottendorf )
7.03.2013

Gesine Reinicke (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Weil der "Furor Teutonicus" auch schon ein politisch unkorrekter, diskriminierender Begriff war... (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furor_Teutonicus)...

Und weil ich "Tugend" im Sinne von "Tauglichkeit" für verlässliche Zusammenarbeit hin zu globaler, sozialer Gerechtigkeit für ein essenzielles Konzept halte...

... darum juckt es mich fast, mehr "Tugendfuror" zu fordern. Aber vorher: Aufbruch zum Umdenken!

Christian Wollgast (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Markus Sowada (from Seeheim - Jugenheim )
7.03.2013

Tanja
7.03.2013

Astrid Stüllein
7.03.2013

alejandro
7.03.2013

pia b.
7.03.2013

Jennifer Dunne
7.03.2013

Andrea Klatt (from Freiburg)
7.03.2013

christine keinath (from stuttgart)
7.03.2013

Shawna (from Baltimore)
7.03.2013

This is important to me because sexism supported or ignored anywhere = approval everywhere, and that is not ok. As someone who visits Germany and has family there, I want us all to feel safe and welcome and not feel discriminated against just because we happen to be women.

Julia M. Mönig
7.03.2013

Jae Cameron (from New York)
7.03.2013

This is important to me because when officials allow and participate in sexist behavior, it affects all of us, men and women, in Germany and around the world and puts limits on what we can accomplish, our personal safety, and our equality.

Birte Bösehans
7.03.2013

Matthias Tristl (from Stavanger/Norwegen)
7.03.2013

Dies ist eine der besten Beschreibungen der Situation die ich bisher gelesen habe!

Margret Nitsche (from Bremen)
7.03.2013

Arne Haupt (from Pinneberg)
7.03.2013

Eleni Stefanidou (from Mönchengladbach)
7.03.2013

Sabrina K.
7.03.2013

Sabine Holm (from München )
7.03.2013

Judith Malkowski (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Dalia Hussein
7.03.2013

John Thompson
7.03.2013

D.Trautenbach
7.03.2013

Weil Herr Gauck meiner Meinung nach #aufschrei falsch verstanden hat und durch seine unüberlegten Äußerungen dazu beiträgt, dass auch andere das Problem des
Alltagssexismus nicht erkennen, sondern bagatellisieren.
Und: Dieses Problem besteht flächendeckend. Zwar nicht durch *alle* Männer verursacht, jedoch durchaus flächendeckend! Es ist ein gesellschaftspolitisches Thema und sollte deshalb unser ALLER Thema sein. Alltagssexismus geht Alle an: Frauen, Männer, Politiker, Menschen, Bundespräsidenten, eben unser aller Thema.

Eike Send (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Robert Seelandt
7.03.2013

Tamino Böhm
7.03.2013

Ann Liza Piberger
7.03.2013

Jutta Boden (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Kerstin B. (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Angela Stümer
7.03.2013

Helene Foltan (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Melanie Bittner (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Wilhelm Pieck
7.03.2013

Margarete Guns (from 47798 Krefeld)
7.03.2013

Weil ich es nicht gut heiße!!!!

Günter Schabowski
7.03.2013

Hermann Axen
7.03.2013

Kristin Flemon (from Stuttgart)
7.03.2013

Phillip Müller (from Halle)
7.03.2013

Ole Schumann (from Marburg)
7.03.2013

Fritz Weineck
7.03.2013

Adolf Hennecke
7.03.2013

Kathrin Hippen (from Ottersberg)
7.03.2013

Ilse Koch (from Weimar)
7.03.2013

Wolfgang Kauders (from Wien)
7.03.2013

Christine Maier
7.03.2013

Vanessa Rathert (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Friedrich Schorlemmer
7.03.2013

Anne Pohl
7.03.2013

Ute Ottofülling (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Jana Moll (from Dresden)
7.03.2013

Daniel Sadlowski (from Krefeld)
7.03.2013

Benjamin Röhl (from Gießen)
7.03.2013

"Wir erwarten von einem Bundespräsidenten, dass er reflektiert zu gesellschaftlichen Debatten Position bezieht und sich umfassend mit ihnen auseinandersetzt." - Die Erwartung ist einfach falsch. Der BuPrä hat nix zu sagen, das Amt gehört abgeschafft. Adressiert den protest lieber an die wirklich Verantwortlichen für grassierenden Sexismus und ungleiche Bezahlung von Frauen. Der Bundestag könnte da ja einfach Gesetze (gemäß den Artikeln im GG) beschließen - macht er aber nicht. Oder es muss mal mehr vor dem BuVerfg geklagt werden.

Natalie Streich (from Frankfurt)
7.03.2013

Claudia Solbach
7.03.2013

Olaf Gaspriggi
7.03.2013

Stephan Hain (from Bad Steben)
7.03.2013

Elisabeth Kamp
7.03.2013

Susanne Baer (from Karlsruhe)
7.03.2013

David Scheller (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Larissa Bochmann (from Frankfurt)
7.03.2013

Jochen A. Bär (from Vechta)
7.03.2013

Susanna Lotz
7.03.2013

Aljona
7.03.2013

Dorothee Bösing (from Duisburg)
7.03.2013

Monika Bradna (from Darmstadt)
7.03.2013

K. Dodenhoeft
7.03.2013

Isi Barthelmeß (from Bremen)
7.03.2013

Nora Baumberger
7.03.2013

Petra Forberger
7.03.2013

Weil es mich besorgt und empört, wie der deutsche Bundespräsident das Anliegen so vieler Frauen herabwürdigt.

Uschi Klee (from Baden-Baden)
7.03.2013

Welf Rumann (from Göttingen)
7.03.2013

Nihil Baxter
7.03.2013

Reyhan Demir (from Friedberg)
7.03.2013

Manuela Schaffrath
7.03.2013

Liisa Noack (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Christiane Swoboda (from Dresden)
7.03.2013

Beate Ziegler (from Berlin)
7.03.2013

Weil es höchste Zeit ist

Wolfhard Pröhl (from Rudolstadt)
7.03.2013

Wir müssen reden.
Über den Alltagssexismus.
Und wie wir über den 'Greisenschleim' hinwegkommen.
Fehler sind dazu da, korrigiert zu werden.

Bianca Bellchambers (from Frankfurt)
7.03.2013

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