Who benefits from patriarchy

"Tender and free" by Carolin Wiedemann : Engage in new relationships

There are quite a few these days who argue that this feminism is also good. The men have long since been in the #MeToo pillory, the third gender option exists in Germany, and the gender asterisk has even reached public broadcasting. Carolin Wiedemann sets these voices at the beginning of “Zart und frei. On the fall of the patriarchy "(Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2021. 200 pages, 20 euros) opposed to an oppressive portrayal.

“On a bike with shorts through Berlin. A distance of 20 minutes. One of them calls after me "cunt", another whistles after me. Average rate. ”The patriarchy may hardly be legally anchored in this country, but its poison continues to have an effect in everyday life. Every third woman still claims to be sexually harassed in the workplace. Others submit to the beauty ideal of the thigh gap (the thighs shouldn't touch each other when standing), while the pay gap, the gender-specific wage gap, persists.

It is such examples that form the starting point of Wiedemann's analysis of modern patriarchal conditions. In doing so, she points out that anti-feminist mobilization has been reinvigorated in the past few years, especially in supposedly liberal places around the world. In Berlin there are increasing reports of trans-hostile attacks, so-called LGBT-free zones are emerging in Poland, and an obscene misogynist becomes the US president.

Connection between capitalism and patriarchy

And right-wing populism long ago proclaimed patriarchy as an organizational form of vital importance in the western world (“immigration through the birth canal of German women”). The hatred of everything that wants to evade the traditional gender order culminates in rampages of new right-wing violent criminals. But, as Wiedemann emphasizes, the backlash is also rolling in the liberal and left-wing milieu. Again and again it is said that feminism has overshot the target - at the latest when it has turned to queer feminism and given up the binary understanding of gender.

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Wiedemann's concern in “Zart und frei”, on the other hand, is to show that queer feminism is by no means only aimed at the particular interests of minorities, but ultimately all people benefit when the supremacy of white, heterosexual cis-men crumbles.

At the heart of “Tender and Free” is the analysis of the connection between capitalism and patriarchy. After excursions into Mesopotamia to Babylonia, the time of the witch hunt and the age of the Enlightenment, the author paints a picture of how male rule could form a fateful triangle of power with the economy and the nation state. And how a historically evolved gender image has become deeply interwoven with the way our society functions.

Determined, but not dogged

There is an impressive wealth of material from which the author draws. The 16-page appendix contains works from Susan Faludi to Klaus Theweleit, from Friedrich Engels to Margarete Stokowski. Nevertheless, “Tender and Free” never appears scientifically overloaded. Rather, the book testifies to historical awareness, combines clear everyday examples with study results, complex ideas with a clear language.

In the second half, Wiedemann then dares the alternative and proceeds to practice new ways of relating. She reports on new forms of love relationships and alternative family models beyond the nuclear family. And men who deal self-critically with ideals of masculinity.

As Wiedemann argues convincingly, society is not slipping into postmodern arbitrariness through the softening of rigid gender images; rather, individuals can find freer forms of togetherness. The author argues decisively, but not doggedly. Don't want to re-educate, but shake hands. In the spirit of the title, through the tenderness in freedom.

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