German women demonstrate against sexism and racism both. They’re getting it right, at least. The media, both there and here? Not so much.
For the last two or three days, my newsfeed has been buzzing with stuff about the sexual assaults in Germany on New Year’s Eve. And so, unfortunately, has my head. It’s all become such a fucking shit-show that even confessed rapist Roosh V and his douchey lackeys have been tweeting about it — naturally (and ironically for Roosh, who is Iranian) from the islamophobic/xenophobic/racist angle. It’s enough to make you sick of life itself.
But yesterday morning, I found this among the link-stew, and it cleared my aching head right up. Mira Sigel of the radical German feminist blog, Die Störenfriedas, has written the last and best word on the whole disgusting morass, which she calls “The Farce of Köln”:
On New Year’s Eve, at the main railway station in Köln and in other major German cities, an as yet unknown number of women were sexually molested and robbed. Around 80 victims are said to have made denunciations, and there’s even talk of rape. The perpetrators were, according to description, of North African and Arab origin. The net has been buzzing ever since. There are those who warn of racist accusations, and others are thundering anew about the fall of the west. Politicians are talking about the “hard hand of the rule of law”. The victims don’t even come up in the whole tumult.
New Year’s Eve, a night outside the norm. Everyone’s celebrating, staying up late, kicking up their heels. At the Köln train station, there is fear of terrorist attacks, so local and federal police are on hand. Masses of people gather in the square out front, some groups set off fireworks and rockets into the crowd. Women get crowded in, groped, fingered, surrounded, threatened, robbed and even raped. Those who come to their aid get threatened. The perpetrators, unanimously described by all, are young men between 15 and 35, of North African and Arab origin. The police know nothing about it, but write in their report that New Year’s Eve passed peacefully. In the social networks, news of assaults, victims and eyewitnesses multiply. The first local newspapers snap the topic up. The major media ignore it, being too afraid to stoke racist resentments or report false news. The waves keep lapping higher; there are accusations, assignments of blame, warnings. But the whole tumult is a farce that scorns the suffering of the victims.
Former family minister Kristina Schróder quickly posted to Twitter something about misogynous violence which is entrenched in Islam. The Köln assaults, quite clearly a product of immigration and the so-called refugee crisis? It’s easy to find fault for such occurrences in foreigners, in the Other. Why should it be the fault of Muslim society when foreign men pester women here? It is an expression of an already laughable hypocrisy to act as if we were some kind of example to foreign men when it comes to dealing with women. Quite the contrary: They’re coming into a land in which pornified advertising smiles at them from every billboard and screen. Where women are offered as wares. Sex-buying has long been in the middle of society, and rape a punishment-free crime. Flat-rate fucking and “facial abuse” are part of the German man’s personal, western freedoms in a so-called civilized society, which even the media will defend tooth and nail; no one wants to recognize sexual violence when women get knocked unconscious in pornos, and the average German man gets off on it. If anyone is still in doubt as to whether prostitution is sexual violence, they should take a look around the john forums. “Nurindenarsch” (OnlyInTheAss) and “Nuttendestroyer” (HookerDestroyer) are ubiquitous pseudonyms. You can spare yourself the reading, the trigger danger is great.
The magazine BILD writes, about Köln, of a “sex mob in our cities”; Alice Schwarzer [of EMMA] of gang-bangs in front of the train station, and calls the perpetrators terrorists. As absurd as it might sound, both are right. But it’s not the foreigners, the refugees, the Others, who have created this climate; it is our own lying society, in which rape culture plays out in song lyrics, advertising, and countless films, and print articles in which the victims are defamed and the perpetrators get off scot-free. There is a “sex mob in our cities” every single day in all German cities — and above all, where there are red-light districts, brothels, “sauna clubs”, and bawdyhouses.
Foreign men from predominantly Muslim lands, who come to our country, are unfamiliar with the open displays of the sexual exploitation of women. Even in their countries, there is prostitution and porn, but it’s in secret and socially scorned. And there is strict segregation of the sexes. This segregation works to the disadvantage of women, who must cover themselves, stay in private, and be reserved. Men in Muslim countries have more freedom and a different self-image. How much of that is due to religion and how much to culture is debatable, but it is definitely not in the genes. So these men come into a country in which everything is porno, and this “all porno”, again, works to the disadvantage of women. They are objects on billboards, fresh meat in the brothels, advertised loud and shrill. In all the ads you’ll find half-naked, stretched-out women as decoration. Women are wares in our cutlure, openly displayed, dehumanized and degraded. And then we seriously wonder why men who come from another cultural context can’t understand how, as a good German, one can molest and abuse women, but only in dark alleyways, in the subway, in the carnival, in the bordello, within one’s own four walls, and on the TV screen, but not in groups and in public places? Don’t worry. We have to give integration a bit of time. Then even foreign perpetrators will know how one uses women’s bodies with violence, without landing in court. Millions of German men are demonstrating it for them every day — legally and without punishment.
Sex-buying is legal in Germany as of 2002, and even taxed. For women, prostitution is a rights-free space, without barriers or protection. The deferred prostitute-protection law won’t change anything about that, either. As soon as a man lays a ten-euro note on the table, he can do what he wants with a woman. Prostitutes’ unions advise their members not to wear scarves or earrings, so that they won’t be as easily injured. Women are being advertised for sale for all to see, and johns celebrate their brothel visits in videos.
Those who don’t want to go to a brothel and pay for it, though, can still be reasonably sure that in Germany, if they force a woman to have sex with them against her will, nothing will happen to them. Rape is almost punishment-free here, only a fraction of the assaults are even reported, and of these perpetrators, only a laughable 8.4% will be sentenced to an even more laughable jail term. The victims have to run the gauntlet of dignity-robbing “character assessments”, and if they have rotten luck, the defence attorney will find out that they’ve had more than one sex partner, and make them out to be sluts. That is legal in Germany, and the reality of our “rule of law”.
Those who are now screaming loudest for the perpetrators to be punished, on Twitter and so on, are the same who like to laugh at #Aufschrei [“Outcry”, a current German feminist hashtag against gendered violence] and rape victims who dare to come forward, insinuating that they’re only doing it to get back at a man, and who usually don’t care much about women’s rights. The victims of Köln only serve for them to shape racist opinions; it’s not about women, their safety and their rights at all. If the perps of Köln were German soccer fans, the victims would for sure and certain be discredited as hysterical feminazis, and no one would believe them.
But we don’t need foreigners and refugees to make women feel insecure in Germany. In the Köln carnival, every year, there are numerous assaults. But the victims are, so they say, at fault themselves, knew what they were letting themselves in for, shouldn’t have had so much to drink, or gone out on the street dressed differently at all. How close this pronouncement is to the cover-up directive in Islamic societies, remains unnoticed to those who carry out this type of victim-blaming.
Köln’s mayor, Henriette Reker, blew the same horn when she announced a “code of conduct” for women, directing them to keep “an arm’s length” between themselves and strangers. So, instead of making certain that women can move around unmolested in public, they’ve assigned them a portion of the blame for their own molestations. The men, as happens so often, get excused on account of their “nature”. Boys will be boys! Even long before New Year’s Eve, women in Germany have known that they are not safe at night and on public streets. One European woman in every three has already experienced sexual violence.
But the biggest declaration of scorn for the victims is that there is no legal recourse for the crimes committed against them in Köln. “The hard hand of the rule of law”, for which even politicians are now calling out, just doesn’t exist. Justice Minister Maas, of all people, should know that already. In Germany, it’s like this: Only when sexual violence takes place under genuine danger to life and limb, is there anything that the law can do about it. A simple “no”, or even the arm’s length, is not enough. The perpetrator can still regard all that as just part of a seduction game — thanks to “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Meanwhile, in socially acceptable BDSM, it’s already like that, and everything there is voluntary. The 80 victims of Köln can only wait and hope for a political signal, because in Berlin, they’re fearful for social order. Legally, justice will barely be done, just as it is for hundreds of thousands or millions of German rape victims every year.
The victims of Köln hardly come up in the debate at all. Some misuse them as xenophobic opinion-makers, others are so afraid of racism that they’d rather just silence the victims. Both are cowardly. Both are wrong. What’s right is to recognize that sexual violence is part of our own society, and if we don’t want immigrants to practice it, then we have to see to it ourselves that it is finally and consequently outlawed by our society. That victims must be heard, respected and protected, and that perpetrators be heaped with shame and scorn — and not those to whom they have done sexual violence. In the whole debate, it’s not about the victims, the afflicted and traumatized women, who, as is so often the case, are left alone with their experiences, held to blame, or promptly abused for other purposes. We should listen to them and show them our solidarity.
I really have nothing to add to this, as it sums up very nicely what I myself have been feeling (and blogging!) for the last couple of days.