Idly watching a TV program about the events of the year 2010, Germany’s leading feminist. Alice Shwarzer, was called in to give her opinion on Joerg Kachelmann, 51, a weatherman with his own weather forecasting company. Kachelmann, Swiss but popular wherever German is spoken because of his lively weather reports was accused in June 2010 of sexually assaulting his girl friend at knifepoint. http://www.euronews.net/2010/05/20/germany-s-weatherman-accused-of-rape/
I was struck by her balance and mature views, she refused to be drawn into the controversy, instead very sensibly presenting both sides of the equation despite being a rabid feminist. Giving Kachelmann due respect she spoke realistically about how men are often victims of such accusations. She then went on to give details of the girlfriend’s actions post the event (she went immediately to the police and also informed her parents – all actions that seem to leave little doubt that she had been traumatized by the event rather than that she invented it for revenge or money. It left the viewer in little doubt as to what must have happened.
She was also presented a bouquet of flowers, as was every woman on the program, and she further presented it to the gentleman who was with her, her co-interviewee, instead of simpering and accepting it with ‘gracious femininity’ – and I’m being quite sarcastic here. I was impressed and investigated further.
Alice Shwarzer was born in 1942, the daughter of a single mother, brought up by her grandparents. She worked as a journalist, helped found the Feminist Movement in Germany, drew public attention to the abortion debate in 1971 – Women against para 218 (which made abortion illegal in Germany at that time). As a result abortion became legal in 1974.
She was also extremely adamant about the realisation of economic self-sufficiency for women (there was a law that required married women to have the permission of their husbands to carry on paid work outside the home). 1976 saw this provision removed.
1987 – campaign against PorNo, because, she argued that pornography violates the dignity of women, contributes to misogyny and physical violence and constitutes a form of medial violence against them. This campaign has not met with success/
She is highly critical of the position of women in Islam. Shwarzer is the author of many books and founder of the feminist German magazine Emma.
This is extracted from Alice Shwarzer’s website http://www.aliceschwarzer.de/zur-person/english/who-is-alice-schwarzer-2008/
I loved reading about her because it gave me an insight into how far Germany has come since the days she started campaigning. Its also interesting that we in India did not have to really fight for abortion rights. The burning issue has been sex selective abortion, since Indian society is very clear that it would rather not have women at all!!
As for having to ask our husband’s permission to get paid work outside the home – hmmm…we may not have had a law demanding this but but but, so many women still find it difficult to break out of that mould. And often the women work only because the family needs her earnings. Either way, she is not free to choose. The luxury of freedom is not something women may indulge in, it would seem.
Campaigning against pornography – well Alice, in our country we have to first convince the media not to refer to sexual harassment as eve teasing, in a cutely condescending manner implying that women make too much fuss about what is essentially a flattering way of interacting – this is what many men think, and which is why the term eve teasing flourishes, despite the fact that Indian women find it distasteful.