EIt would be a mistake to attribute Alice Schwarzer’s aggressiveness to a lack of reflection. It would be just as wrong to regard her penchant for humorous exaggerations as evidence of perhaps only superficial commitment to the cause. The thing is called feminism and has been so often watered down and overused as a label, scam and blank cartridge suitable for debate that its core is sometimes only vaguely recognizable.
Schwarzer exposes it again and again and has been saying since 1977, when she founded the magazine “Emma” at the age of thirty-five, where emancipatory things have to go. With her finely tuned objectification radar, she tracks down everything that could become a threat to women in order to dissect and expose it: prostitution, religious fundamentalism, Paragraph 218, pornography, Helmut Newton’s photos, sexist magazine covers. The latter were such an impertinence for Schwarzer and nine of his fellow campaigners that in 1978 they sued the editor-in-chief of “Stern”, Henri Nannen, and the publishing house Gruner + Jahr. In the justification it was said that on the cover of the magazine women were not only “presented as objects of male lust, but also humiliated as human beings”. This results in a “perpetuation of existing power relations between the sexes”. The plaintiffs saw themselves as “personally offended” and spoke for all “discriminated women in the Federal Republic of Germany”. The lawsuit was dismissed for formal reasons. But that didn’t matter, because the volte had sat.
With her, nothing works without performance
Alice Schwarzer can do many things at the same time, shimmer and growl, flirt and hand out baskets, whisper velvety paws and bark aggressively, playfully rail against sexism and write for the “Bild” newspaper, signal openness and squint her eyes to convey skepticism. She can also argue cleverly without everyone noticing, because she often presents her concerns in a blustering way that is taken by surprise.
She once said that a conversation is “always a seduction,” and anyone who watches her interviews quickly gets an idea of what she means. You can understand that aesthetically, less socially, the effect has to be right. Schwarzer’s authenticity is one that doesn’t work at all without a performance character. You may find that precious, but you could just as well change your perspective and acknowledge that with this habit she has done outstanding things for equality.
A Putin understander
This year, Schwarzer presented the book “Transsexuality” with Chantal Louis. In it she says “that biological sex exists, but should not play a defining role in human beings”. And yet there are more and more irritations about gender roles, which are then quickly misunderstood as transsexualism. She was often resented for that. Just like her statements on “Maischberger” this week. After Schwarzer spoke out against arms deliveries to Ukraine in April, she reaffirmed her stance in the panel discussion. In any case, it is a proxy war between Russia and America. “Why I understand Putin despite everything!” She wrote on her website eight years ago, on the day of the annexation of Crimea.
That doesn’t change the fact that was already important in the lawsuit against “Stern” and that is basically always important when Schwarzer advances: the volte was right. In the current “Emma” issue, the editor says in an interview: “I am proud that I have encouraged so many people.” Today the encourager is eighty years old.