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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Wartime debates: our strength is care and doubt

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Doesn’t waking up help us now either? Are you kidding? You are serious when you say that. Peacetime discussions only make us more aware of those who often suffer the most in war.

The so-called awakening does not help in the resistance against Putin’s tank, a common accusation since Russia attacked Ukraine. © Richard Drury/Getty Images

At least there was this brief silence. After Russian troops attacked the Ukraine At first there was a mix of disbelief, shock, and the need to somehow express these emotions. The usual social debates seemed to have fallen silent in the face of a world situation that very few could and wanted to imagine. But this mood did not last 24 hours. Already the next day you could, for example, in the New Zurich Newspaper Reading that we finally have to face reality and the asterisks of gender did not fit in the counterattack. Two days later, a CDU politician from Münster tweeted that “the only good thing about the drama in Ukraine” was that the “pink sky” would now darken for all those who until now said “gender asterisks for the center of the universe”. .maintained

The old resentments returned immediately, and they openly adapted to the new circumstances. Since then, numerous conservative voices from politics and the media have been raised, seeing this as confirmation that efforts to raise awareness of discrimination and for sustained climate protection become obsolete when the going gets tough. Irritated and sometimes gleeful, it is claimed that parts of German society that care about these issues also advocate active protection against violence and war. As if one excluded the other. And at the same time, there seem to be secret jibes in some quarters about the fact that those who have never faced this form of violence now have to deal with a situation that could also endanger their way of life.

It is not uncommon for wars and catastrophes, which until now have mainly affected you indirectly, to change the focus at times and leave some relevant issues in the background. However, it should also not be disputed that a series of peacetime debates have sharpened our focus on how to deal with crises. Because, ultimately, it is exactly the sensitivities that parts of society have taught, learned and fought for in recent years that now put us in a position from which we can defend our way of life and our idea of ​​a world in peace. ; without falling back into old patterns of masculine toughness and lame patriotism.

The voices that now want to push the relevant discourses towards the old orders of gender and sexuality and the supposed conflict between climate protection and defense ignore the complexity of a war and the resulting situation. Several media outlets have reported on Ukrainian singer Zi Faamelu, who took to Instagram for help in a panic near the Ukraine-Poland border because, as a trans woman, she was not allowed to leave the country without an official change of status. civil. A sign that such conditions can create a lot of suffering, especially in times of crisis. Unlike many other people in the same situation, she is now in Germany and safe, although we must not forget that a change of marital status is not an easy process in this country either.

Not everyone who offers help to refugees also has their well-being in mind

It was also only a few days before it became known that non-white people fleeing Ukraine are being subjected to racism at the EU borders and in Germany. Within a very short time, reception desks organized by volunteers were set up at Berlin Central Station for people suffering from racial discrimination and for Refugees of the LGBTQI* community to ensure everyone has the support they need. Even when it was predictable that women and children in particular would arrive at train stations in the European Union, it was quickly pointed out that not everyone who offers help to refugees also has their well-being in mind. Refugee women and children in particular often experience sexual violence and abuse. The fact that these measures are necessary is bad enough and shows that the discussions of recent years have not yet borne enough fruit. However, the fact that there is an awareness of such dangers and these forms of discrimination and that the situation in which women, children, trans people and people of color in particular find themselves as a result of the war is spreading in too little time is also a result of speeches now being held that are considered irrelevant by some.

The effects of the Russian attack are only part of a new and complex present. Because he also shows that the division into unreal pacifists and feminists and patriotic fighters for traditional values ​​is untenable. Queer people have long been fighting in the Ukrainian resistance against Russian troops, even if the legal situation in Ukraine is not ideal for LGBTQI* rights, in Russia it is unbearable. Others have fled and report on TikTok about their lives as refugees in Germany, while in Russia LGBTQI* people are also protesting against the war, at great risk to freedom and life.

A certain ability to tolerate contradictions is needed to see and classify all these realities simultaneously. Only in this way is it also possible to admire the charisma and resilience of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to be enthusiastic because he demonstrates a form of masculinity combined with strength, affection and doubt, and at the same time to criticize that thanks to him Ukraine men and many people trans are not allowed to run away. This includes being aware of the problems of nationalism, patriotism and their consequences, while still supporting the right of Ukrainians to defend their country. All these are levels that exist simultaneously and whose consequences must be discussed. Above all, this shows that these are not prosperity debates that suddenly lose their relevance when war breaks out.

It is a mistake to think that none of this has anything to do with the war. The attack on Ukraine was ordered by a president who deeply resented the relative liberality in Western and Central Europe, especially when it comes to issues of sexuality and gender diversity. That is also a factor in this war. A war that also opposes the often derisively commented feminist foreign policy of Annalena Baerbock, which in the end is not a weak attitude against the imperialist masculinism of Vladimir Putin. Rather, this creates a perspective that primarily wants to offer protection to the people who often suffer the most from wars. This makes it clear that the discussions of the last few years have created an awareness that now clearly helps pave the way through sticky situations. Phenomena can be better recognized and classified and those that are often in danger, even in times of peace, are not left out in the turmoil of the moment, at least by parts of society.

Male showmanship could lead to maximum escalation

Gender studies, post-colonialism and research on sustainable ways of life are therefore also fields of science that naturally contribute to understanding dynamics with global political dimensions and becoming as independent as possible from their effects. Imagine if we were further along in some of these discussions. Where would we be today with our independence from Russian oil and gas if Fridays for Future had started sooner or if it hadn’t taken nearly a generation of uprising in the first place? A society that is aware of the consequences of a war, beyond the obvious suffering of bombed cities, may not have to depend on the voluntary commitment of many people who are offering protection to especially vulnerable groups at this time.

Reflexively reducing a war to traditions and old values ​​and announcing without cause that the so-called awakening does not help in the resistance against Putin’s tank is above all a discursive instrumentalization of suffering. There were -and this must be underlined- conservative voices that, even in the face of the war, could not put aside their open antipathy for social sensitivity in language and treatment and put the issue on the table. This mainly distracts from the fact that we are in a highly complex situation where there are no simple answers to be found in the virtues of old. On the contrary, military counter-aggression and masculine spectacle could lead to maximum escalation with unforeseen consequences. Of course, that doesn’t mean the star of the genre is going to end a war, but no one said that either.

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