Innocent being that I am I opened the newspaper this morning (Süddeutsche – which is one of the biggest nation-wide newspapers here in Germany and considered to be somewhat on the liberal left) and stumbled upon this gem in their “Leute” – people – column:
‘Jamie Oliver, 35, britischer Koch, hat endlich einen Sohn. Ehefrau Jools brachte am Mittwoch nach drei Töchtern ihren ersten Sohn zur Welt, wie Oliver per Twitter verkündete. „Jetzt muss ich so tun, als wüsste ich alles über Fußball!“, schrieb er.’
(translates roughly as: Jamie Oliver, 35, British cook, finally has a son. His wife Jools gave birth to their first son after three daughters, Oliver announced via Twitter. “Now I have to pretend to know about football!,” he wrote.)
My breakfast, which was awesome btw since we had ourselves a nice little brunch with eggs and cheese and fruits and stuff, moved back up a little. Like: What the hell? Even if we graciously ignore their uncontested reprinting of his gender-stereotyping re: the football thing, this is some serious sexist shit. It’s not like they are saying: Jamie Oliver, father of already three daughters now has a fourth child, a son. They say: finally, a son. My guess being, they didn’t write a damn word about him having a daughter before. They make it sound like after three unsuccessful attempts at having children (that is: only daughters, poor him) he finally got lucky and now has a son. Makes me cringe.
Oh, but don’t expect the crap to be over right there. Because our beloved newspaper comes with a free magazine every Friday. Today the whole issue is centered around: men. Progressive, I know. Apart from what feels like a hundred stories about how middle-aged men bond with their fathers (something that I can accept to a certain extent) there is also a weekly column entitled “I don’t understand that” (Das verstehe ich nicht), where four authors take turns at writing about stuff that seems nonsensical to them. Fair enough. But being the androcentric issue that it is this week, Christian Zaschke writes about how he does not approve of how “the new language of equality” does away with “the man” (you can read it here, in German). At least that seems to be the threat that he perceives.
He particularly points at new guidelines in Switzerland where they are apparently trying to introduce gender-neutral language, like avoiding the term “father” and replacing it with the term “parent” (which is somewhat more problematic in German). While he does have a point that language should not deny that there is gender and various gender identities, his conclusion is that the male form is threatened, meaning that the man is about to be erased from German altogether. Which is terrible, in his opinion, because actually the male form (nouns like Lehrer – teacher – whereas the female version is Lehrerin) traditionally encompasses both male and female individuals. It functions as a plural or superior category that claims to be gender neutral – all the while being identical to only the male form of the noun in question. Feminism has come to challenge this, and it’s not exactly a new development.
Christian Zaschke uses the whole page of his column to bemoan the extinction of men from the German language. Like a well meaning paternal nod he admits that non-discriminatory language that addresses both men and women might be a good thing, but what he actually wants to say seems to be: really, this is going too far already. Later on he claims that his complaints have nothing to do with chauvinism, which is like a huge red neon sign screaming “chauvinism” in itself, and he completely fails to elaborate as to why questioning male supremacy in language might actually be a constructive thing for society.
Not to mention that he doesn’t even really bother to point to more recent developments like e.g. the Gender Gap, as in actor_actress (works even better in German: Schauspieler_in, the gap signifying that there is both a male and a female form, plus a space for all them people who don’t feel like they belong exclusively in one or even in either category).
So, that is my Friday: Sexism in both newspaper and its weekly supplement. Way to make a progressive leap into the weekend. Can’t wait for the women’s issue! Let me guess: it’ll be about shoes, make-up and shopping. Oh, and maybe diets.
BARF. Bye, breakfast!