Would you date a radical feminist?

An offer to old white men

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Sophie Passmann has been noticed for a long time. She works as an author at Neo Magazine Royale and Jan Böhmermann repeatedly brings him to the curtain. No wonder: Passmann has a quick-witted, sparkling joke that she lives out properly on Twitter, she is informed, well-read and clever. Passmann started in the poetry slam scene, soon ended up in journalism, in between graduated with a degree in political science and philosophy, is a radio presenter and Time magazine-Columnist, and just finished her second book. She is 24 years old.

You don't even have to try not to be impressed by Passmann, or, to put the impressions into perspective, look for uncertainties, weak opinions, juvenile stupidity or serious incompetence in your book: the chances of success are slim. At most, she lets herself be dazzled a little by charismatic dazzlers in a few rare moments, but that's supposed to happen in the most hardened women's circles.

Already the foreword to your book Old white men is enormously clever, clear and to the point and at the same time, yes, understanding of her object. This old white man has become a household name since the beginning of #MeToo: a synonym for rigid, arrogant unteachability, for sexism, for a blindness to one's own innate privileges, for a saturated unwillingness to promote or allow change would lead to women achieving equality in all areas.

The old white man is the enemy of feminists, and this is exactly what Passmann looks for in her book (and finds him several times) to find out what makes him tick, whether he is ready to talk and, ultimately, can be re-socialized. And to find out what young men can do to avoid becoming old white men.

Feminism as an attack

The book claims in the subtitle to be "an attempt at arbitration": But it is more Passmann's attempt to gain an understanding of radical feminism, of which she realizes that many of the men she has dated for her book see it as an attack feel. Which of course it is and must be.

As Passmann writes in the preface: "Every woman who seriously practices feminism has to say goodbye to the idea of ​​making herself popular with a large number of men." Sascha Lobo, Passmann's first conversation partner, agreed to her elsewhere, namely recently in his mirror-Column, in which he writes about a young Austrian feminist: "Others would probably call her 'radical feminist', but I think that would be pleonastic redundancy: non-radical feminism seems to me as meaningful as a diet champagne reception by the Viennese U. -Boat Veterans. "

It's such a relief for feminists to hear this from a man. Because feminists, at least older, are probably used out of a polite socialization to constantly apologize for their feminism, for the fact that the world is so unfair to women, and they, sorry !, unfortunately again on this grievance, this one Injustice, having to point out this sexism, cause stress again. You don't like to disturb the harmony, but.

It is encouraging and gives hope to see feminists like Sophie Passmann, who no longer suffer from this compulsive excuse neurosis, but expect a change from society, from the men who still shape the system, a new departure, a will to justice, even if it becomes a bit uncomfortable for her.

Limits of what is bearable

It is also inconvenient for feminists, among other things because you always have to sound out your own position with every male counterpart. Passmann also experiences this again and again in her conversations with the old and young white men: sometimes as a sad surprise for men whom she actually judged to be further. Others, like Rainer Langhans or Kai Diekmann, not only push Passmann to the limits of what is bearable with their attitudes towards women and feminism, but also the reader. Arguing no longer makes sense.

The men with whom Passmann spoke for one summer for her book come from different generations and different political camps, but are all important, respected or at least feared in their field. Well, except for Rainer Langhans. She goes for coffee with Sascha Lobo, meets the media men Ulf Poschardt, Jörg Thadeusz, Marcel Reif, Christoph Amendt and Micky Beisenherz, eats soup with Kai Diekmann, has a picnic with the cabaret artist Claus von Wagner, meets the politicians Robert Habeck and Kevin Kühnert and Peter Tauber, eats with Tim Raue and, oh yes, with her own father in a steak restaurant. (She is vegan.)

They are not interviews, but small, analytical reports that sometimes end in an optimistic way and in many places make you feel the unease that arises when two people fail to find a green light. Most of the time, no, you're on Passmann's side.

In very rare places a passport man is a little confused: When she repeatedly claims, as in an interview with fashion blogger Carl Jakob Haupt, how clever the man is, which cannot be substantiated with his views. It makes the book so exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking how Passmann patiently and relentlessly pushes the person to whom they are speaking to their limits, for example when she forces them to reveal their attitude towards the quota - which the greater part of their interlocutors reject, for various imaginative reasons.

Poschardt finds them nonsensical, Haupt, 33, is against quotas, because "that is too pure for me", he also believes that the blatant discrimination against women is "a phenomenon that we will not talk about in 30 years". This is a prophecy that recurs in the book and in life: Everything will take care of itself anyway.

Change operating settings

But if you were there 30 years ago, you see it differently because you heard it back then. And because you now know: When it comes to the pace of equality, about limiting the power of one group in order to expand that of another, then 30 years is much shorter than you think at 24. At 24, you can't imagine how much can't happen in 30 years.

If there is no intervention now, everything will be the same in 30 years. Passmann suspects this. And she knows that radical demands do not make friends with many men: "Feminism is not a request," she writes. Even if she tries to "make the whole thing as forgiving, so cordial, as funny as possible".

She does it well. One likes to watch her not only interview the old or young white men, but also try to convince them of the necessity of feminism. It is well known that the old white man is primarily not simply the incorrigible sexist, but a structural phenomenon, because patriarchal society is so established by and for old white men that their privileges are invisible - it is them Closure of the company, as Sascha Lobo says.

Even men in solidarity with women who are willing to change often find it difficult to change this attitude to the company, as can also be seen in Passmann's more optimistic discussions.

Her book, she writes, is "not an attempt to smile away at gender injustice or to end sexism with a glass of wine in the sun. It is an offer of conversation." It is worth taking up this offer. (Doris Knecht, album, 2.3.2019)

Sophie Passmann, "Old white men. An attempt at arbitration". 12.40 euros / 304 pages. Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2019