Is the patriarchy evil in western countries?

What #MeToo and Cologne New Year's Eve have in common

Sexism justifies the dominance and structural domination of men over women by calling them “natural”. In gender research, sexism is a global phenomenon. It is characterized by regional differences as well as differences between religious groups, social classes and generations.

Neosexism, as it can be found in Western countries today, denies that women are still discriminated against in the West and points to their legal equality. In the past few decades, the “New Right” has also started to differentiate between “our” supposedly modern, emancipated gender relations and the supposedly exclusively traditional-patriarchal relations among migrants and Muslims. The sociologist Sara Farris describes this phenomenon as “feminism from the right” or “femonationalism”. And the French political scientist Éric Fassin writes: "The so-called clash of civilizations is being reformulated as a sexual one."

PROF. DR.HELMA LUTZ teaches women and gender research at the Goethe University in Frankfurt (a.M). Since 2015 she has been the managing director of the Cornelia Goethe Center for Women's Studies and Research into Gender Relations. Her contribution is based on the opening speech she gave at the annual meeting of the "Council for Migration" in Berlin. Under the hashtag # 4genderstudies there will be an online action day on Monday, December 18, 2017 for the subject of gender studies.

The reporting on New Year's Eve in Cologne 2015/2016 provided a good example of this. It was certainly unique in its reach: whether in the New York Times or the BBC, whether in Sydney or Buenos Aires - everywhere people wrote about the "mass sexual assaults by refugees".

Some even compared the Cologne event to the rape by groups (possibly hired by the Egyptian regime) during the “Arab Spring” on Tahrir Square in Cairo. This equation followed the scheme of Externalizationas if sexual violence in this country only came from outside. The expulsion of the perpetrators was therefore propagated as an effective means of getting rid of this evil.

The ideal image of successful masculinity is widespread worldwide

Unfortunately, no study from the perspective of critical masculinity research has yet been published on “Cologne”. Because in all societies in the world there are ideals of successful masculinity that masculine behavior is based on.

"Hegemonic masculinity The term goes back to the Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell. See: "The Made Man. Construction and Crisis of Masculinity" (1999) ", as embodied by white men in management, show business or in sport, strives for dominance over women as well as over marginalized and thus subordinate men Structural dominance, but also violence and criminal behavior, can be found in economic and industrial crime, in the sexual intimidation of subordinates or the use of company capital for visits to brothels.

Even marginalized men who are on the fringes of society orient themselves to the standards of strong, powerful masculinity. Some try to approach the status of hegemonic masculinity through property crimes or sexual assault. There were numerous thefts and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve 2015/16 in Cologne. If we look at “Cologne” from this perspective, it is an attempt by marginalized men to “recapture” the status of hegemonic masculinity with physical and criminal violence.

Sexual violence as an expression of a "foreign culture"?

These days the media of the world are again dealing with sexual assault by men, keyword: #MeToo. But while the debate since the fall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has centered on men in respected positions who (d) abuse their power for sexual assault, the other has centered around male migrants (especially from Muslim countries) and their supposed " Culture ”, which is generally considered to be patriarchal. If they use violence, it is perceived as an expression of their “foreign” culture, not their gender. At the same time, a fundamental difference is asserted between these “hyper masculine strangers” and the men of the majority society, who are mostly viewed as open-minded and tolerant towards female emancipation.

The connection between subtle forms of sexism, manifest physical violence and sexual coercion has long been trivialized and ignored by many in this country. Only after the verbal derailments of the FDP politician Rainer Brüderle towards the journalist Laura Himmelreich, there was a debate about this in 2013. The hashtag # Aufschrei reminded us that sexism and sexual violence are not an exception in Germany either, but rather normal.

The hashtag # without exception and the general suspicion

After the New Year's Eve in Cologne, Anne Wizorek, Jasna Strick and Keshia Fredua-Mensah tried to use the # without exception to draw attention to the fact that a specific group of perpetrators was marked in a special way, while others remained in the shadows. But this debate fizzled out. And in the debate about #MeToo no parallels are drawn to the sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in Cologne. “Weinstein” and “Cologne” are not thought of together. While the sexual violence of the criminals in Cologne was ascribed to their “culture”, comparable attacks by respectable and powerful men in the western world are trivialized as “exceptions”, “slip-ups” and one-off misconduct, and warnings are given against “hysteria” and “prudish” .

The “Cologne” debate, on the other hand, had tangible consequences. It has contributed to mobilization and hardening in the right-wing political spectrum and unsettled many citizens. As a result of Cologne, young men marked as “Muslim” are under general suspicion. In everyday life, they increasingly have to deal with fear, aggression and rejection by the majority population and are under pressure to have to refute the danger they allegedly pose.

The "foreign" sexuality supports one's own self-image

Analogous to the stigmatization of male “Muslim” migrants as a latent danger, it has become established to perceive female migrants - especially from Muslim countries - primarily as victims of patriarchal domination of their cultures of origin. The fact that migrant women can also be victims of racism is ignored. This narrative also enables members of the majority society a positive self-appreciation. Or, as the political scientists Maria do Mar Castro-Varela and Nikita Dhawan put it: the figure of the “emancipated Western woman” needs an alter ego - an “oppressed other in order to be able to think and live liberation at all”.

This perception of migrant femininity and masculinity as “different” or even “hostile different” has been given a core function in many Western societies for the definition of the self. In the words of Umberto Eco: “Having an enemy is not only important in order to define one's own identity, but also in order to build up an obstacle against which one can demonstrate one's own value system and by combating it, one can prove one's own value system . "