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Family Minister Schröder locked in blazing feminism row

The Local · 9 Nov 2010, 10:33

Published: 09 Nov 2010 09:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Nov 2010 10:33 GMT+01:00

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Schwarzer, the 67-year-old leading feminist and founder of the women’s journal EMMA, blasted Schröder in an open letter as a “hopeless case” and “simply unqualified.”

Schröder, 33, is the youngest woman ever to sit in Germany’s cabinet. In an interview this week with Der Spiegel magazine, the conservative Christian Democrat took issue with some of Schwarzer’s assertions in the latter’s famous feminist book, Der kleine Unterschied und seine großen Folgen, or “The Small Difference and its Great Consequences.”

The minister questioned Schwarzer’s purported view that “heterosexual sex was hardly possible without the subjugation of the woman.”

“It is absurd when something that is essential to the survival of humanity is defined as subjugation. That would mean that without the subjugation of woman society could not continue.”

Schröder also said: “I don’t find it convincing that homosexuality should be the solution to the disadvantage of women.”

The radical feminist tendency to reject relationships between men and women was not a solution for inequality, she said.

“I believe that early feminism at least partially overlooked that partnership and children bring happiness,” she told the magazine.

The minister also rejected the idea of quotas to improve women’s standing in the workplace, calling it a “political capitulation.” She blamed some women’s own choices for the fact that they earned less than men.

“The truth is this: Many women prefer to study German philology and humanities, while men study electric engineering – and that has consequences when it comes to wages. We can’t forbid companies from paying electric engineers more than a philologist.”

Schröder told Der Spiegel that a new part of her policy would be providing more support to boys, who are falling behind girls in schools. Government policies have neglected boys and men, she said.

The Family Minister’s comments were not appreciated by feminist leader Schwarzer, who made a brutal retort in an open letter to Schröder, also published by Der Spiegel.

“I consider you to be a hopeless case. Simply unqualified,” Schwarzer wrote.

“Whatever the motive of the chancellor might have been in appointing you of all people – it cannot have been competence and empathy for women.”

Schwarzer accused Schröder of using “cheap clichés” about “the most momentous social movement of the 20th century,” which Schröder, among many other young women, could thank for their personal success in their careers.

She went on to blast Schröder for employing “populist wisdom” and “outrageous nonsense” about Schwarzer’s book.

She said she had waited for the past year for deeds and action from Schröder, but “in vain.”

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“The only exciting news from your office was your change of name from Köhler to Schröder,” she said, referring to the minister’s name change after she got married in February.

Meanwhile Green party parliamentary group leader and candidate for Berlin mayor Renate Künast said she was “dumbfounded” by the Family Minister’s comments, calling them “crude and antiquated.”

Another opposition politician, Social Democrat deputy leader and Minister of Social Affairs and Health in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig, called the interview “nonsense.”

“Mrs. Schröder has absolutely no understanding of the historic meaning of feminism,” she told Der Spiegel, adding that she was also uninformed about the modern problems of women.

The deputy leader of the socialist Left party, Katja Kipping, weighed in on the debate with equal vigour, questioning Schröder’s knowledge of the movement, saying it had “never been about man-hating, but about fighting the patriarchy – that is, structures that discriminate against women.”

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:24 November 9, 2010 by whiteriver
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:47 November 9, 2010 by ngwanem
i'm not usually a fan of the CDU/CSU block but this time around i support the minister 100%. Feminism is no longer involving in making women be more feminine, it is instead trying to make women more masculine! There was a reason in nature why 2 separate sex genders existed, else we would have been asexual and let the feminists get this: you can replace one sex gender with another - all have different but complementary roles! Shame to the other politicians, who due to political correctness and sharp criticisms from feminists, are attempting to distance themselves from the minister. Support you wholeheartedly Frau Ministerin!!!
14:23 November 9, 2010 by Baynik
Mrs Schröder, well done!!!! How refreshing to see a 33 year old clear, normal thinking minister put an old hand like Schwarzer in her place. The result of humanistic feminism is evident in our broken society and I for one appreciate a common sense minister(in) in charge of defending the true nature of family. It is so true that much of the fallout from the feminist movement caused woman to act and look less feminine than ever in the history of mankind! This together with the 'political correctness' lobby are destroying the natural beauty of man and woman being different in design! (Oops, I said design!)

Go for it Frau Schröder! The non-demonstrative, average family appreciates you!
18:13 November 9, 2010 by Gretl
Wow, none of you really know anything about feminism, do you? Equal pay for equal work? Being able to work outside the home instead of being a homemaker? Daycare - which is sorely missing in Germany, and I don't mean the kindergarten where you have to pick up the kids by 15:30.

Why do you think you have a declining population? No working woman wants to stay home and collect kindergeld. They want to be able to work. Without adequate daycare, they are forced to work part-time or not at all. Why should they? Germany needs to address the reality of working women if they ever want to increase the birthrate.
19:18 November 9, 2010 by cotongrll
I'm with Gretl. And I'm always amazed at the amount of rancor directed at women who raise the issue of feminism. People immediately start talking about the ordained (from where?) and "natural" differences between men and women. We humans often take "natural" differences (such as disability or nationality) and level the playing field in other areas. So why not between men and women, giving equal pay for equal work and encouraging women to enter "traditionally" male career fields? In an evolved society people of any gender would benefit from having all sorts of choices available to them. When someone says to me that "women are naturally" whatever, and "they ought to just accept it", it is obviously a false statement. Because if they WERE "naturally" whatever, they would never even QUESTION it. The fact that some women are dissatisfied with the status quo and want to change it shows that they are not all "naturally" whatever. And why is that such a threat? Sure Schwarzer is extreme. People go to extremes for what they passionately believe in. Look at people who lay down in front of trucks carrying nuclear waste.

I don't see why her extremism makes her and, as a consequence, entire issue irrelevant and worthy of scorn.
20:33 November 9, 2010 by Baynik
Dear Cotongrll, As a woman you have all the right in the world to do and believe whatever you want. The minister of family just pointed out the twisted view of some feminists over really basic issues. The feminist movement has been one of the most destructive forces in modern society. What a sad thing to think that we prefer our kids in some 'daycare' facility over and above the nurture in our own homes! How ironic that your fellow commentator(in) mentioning the drop in birthrate as a result of women not being equally paid! The birthrate before the F-movement was thrice as high as what is now after the success of feminism. Now that women have to work a 9-5 job to earn extra bucks, they have no time for kids! It's too inconvenient. I have nothing against equal rights for women, and I'm all the way with you for equal pay for equal jobs, but then don't complain about our broken society and lost kids! And by the way, it is NATURAL whether you feel like it not, but women are made to raise kids in a way that men just can't! Biology 101!
21:55 November 9, 2010 by oneforall
Very well put @Baynik

Feminist movements have lowered the threshold of marital stability to such a low level, that even a small tiff leads to the 'D' word. In the din of overinflated egos and misplaced priorities, it's the children who are suffering. Please don't deny the basic biological (physical and psychological) differences between men and women. And please do not belittle the act of raising a child in order to aim for working 'shoulder to shoulder' with and at an equal footing with men.

Otherwise pretty soon the only emotion that we would know would be cynicism. And the functional unit 'Family' would just vanish.
22:16 November 9, 2010 by cotongrll
One assumption made in responding to my comments is that I am female.

Another is that women are working for "extra" bucks, as opposed to working for a living.

As for feminism being the most destructive movement ever, for me it doesn't compare with religious fanaticism when it comes to societal destruction. Check out the New York Times article on the number of women in Afghanistan who have set themselves afire to get away from abusive marriages. This seems a bit more desperate than wanting some "extra bucks".

Of course women and men are different. Traditionally, men are the hunters and women the gatherers. But those gatherers ought to receive the same pay for gathering that the hunters receive for hunting, since both are necessary for successful family life. And, traditionally, gathering is a more reliable method for feeding the family than hunting, so maybe the gatherers should be BETTER-paid.

And far from belittling child-rearing, I'm saying people of all genders can do this invaluable work (outside of a period of breast-feeding, and there is technology for that, if necessary). Those who do this invaluable work should have the support they need in terms of childcare, etc. This includes those fathers who become, for whatever reason, the sole parent to their children.

And let's face it... not all women are going to find successful marriages even if they want to. The unattractive, the sick, the disabled, the women whose husbands have died and who are still faithful to their memories. Finally, as a rule, far more marriages dissolve due to male unfaithfulness than to female desires for workplace equality.
00:04 November 10, 2010 by Deutschguy
Man, some of these guys on here are totally clueless. They want their mommies back. Well, guess what, many women want the same things you do, and your whining that they should be home taking more responsibility for the kids than you do is laughable.

Feminism has not been a destructive force. Stagnant wages and having the price of everything go up has been a destructive force. It's only destructive to you because you want a mommy at home and you can't stand having a woman at work for a manager.

Personally, I think Schwarzer has extreme views about sex and sexuality. But Schroeder shows her ignorance of where women have been, and how they have been marginalized and limited.

Women who are expected to be the sole child care givers have 24 hour duties. Men think they can work a full day, but then deserve to come home and be pampered, all the while ignoring the on-going responsibility of the mother.

And, if German girls are not choosing science and engineering, somebody needs to focus on that issue, rather than looking at 'boys falling behind girls'. Germany can't afford to do with future scientists and engineers, whether they are male or female. The unrecognized sexism in careers and professions in Germany sabotages the German economy.
01:49 November 10, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, that "Independent, I don't need a Man Feminism" is not intelligent. In fact, as Schroder said, it's destructive and totally illogical.

Schwarzer has the right to believe as she chooses. But she can't stand on a hill and speak for all women. Obviously she can't.

Germany, America and the world as a whole are struggling with various problems simply because humans have NEVER learned how to think effectively. And therefore, as a species, we tend to do the same crazy things over and over again.

Non-emotionalism would provide humanity with the intelligence to function successfully here on earth.
02:03 November 10, 2010 by Talonx
I don't know what's more laughable, the fact that some of the posters actually think Alice supports only same-sex relationships or that some posters think the issue is about some vague (not even universal) concept of masculinity and feminity.

WOW, just WOW.
04:38 November 10, 2010 by vonSchwerin
This sounds like a clash between Second Wave feminism and Third Wave feminism. The Second Wave women were courageous fighters who won many opportunities and rights for women now in the 30s. But many of their attitudes regarding relations with men, sexuality, marriage, and working-vs.-staying home with children do not match up with those of women who are one generation younger.

The feminism of women in Generation X and Generation Y (as they are know in English) is much varied and nuanced that traditional feminism. Schwarzer and her colleagues should be respected and thanked, but they need to realize that many women do not share their view -- and they are still feminists, too.
19:34 November 10, 2010 by craigellachie
I'm just a 52-year old lady from the States living in Ga-Pa, but I would like to encourage the minister to stick to her guns. I've lived through the feminist era, and it doesn't work well. It alienates women from men, men from women, and children from their parents. Ladies, you can't "have it all", not in 99 cases out of 100. Having said that, men need to step up and understand their responsibilities to women and the family as well, for they are crucial. Women and men, can't we just all accept our differences peacefully and stop crusading to make everyone fit into the same dreary "independent of anyone" mold? Dependency is GOOD. it is GOOD when women depend on men, and it is GOOD when men depend on women. It is GOOD for us to realise our responsibilities to one another, and to follow through with loving sacrifice. None of this is easy, but even so, it DOES work when we do our respective jobs. Kudos to you, Minister, you are way ahead of your time.
20:50 November 10, 2010 by carolufl
Deutschguy is completely right.

Why are there so few women engineers and scientists in Germany? This is not the case in the US, speaking as an american scientist who just moved to Germany. I don't buy the argument that companies simply don't have enough women to hire. If this is true, then there is an underlying cause. I simply don't believe that there are not enough smart women in Germany that would like to study science or engineering.

I think the school system here needs to be completely overhauled, that less money should be spent on supporting the cronically unemployed and more on after school care, or extending the school hours.

And, as a mom of a 2 year old, I completely agree with him. It is only in Germany that I've heard of the notion that because fathers work out of the house they should be pampered at home, while the mom with a baby or toddler is expected to be on duty 24-7. Papas should get up and feed the baby at 2am too! (that's why they invented breast pumps)
12:45 November 12, 2010 by Jimmy K.
A very big thank you to Schröder. We have to put an end to the constant discrimination of 'men'. It is remarkable/exceptional that a women puts a statement like this. It is quite refreshing to hear a woman say something 'rational' about the men/women topic. Most women I know are simply blinded by what they read in the 'women magazines' which mostly contains 'so called' facts which resulted out of manipulated 'so called' scientific research (mostly done at the local universities 'women studies' departement which is a big laugh cause they just manipulate the statistics as feminism in general did in the last decades). What the critique of the feminists' corner concerns: they will never stop whining, even if 98% of all the jobs in the boarding-room belong to them. All that matters to them is to discriminate men further and further. Everybody who has a sane mind and is not blinded by gender extremism allready knows this for a 'long' time. My only concern with Schröder is that we have to wait and see whether she 'really' wants to change things, or that it is just a political strategy to win the hearts of men for the next elections.
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