Alice Schwarzer is the best known feminist in Germany. She is one of only few who are granted to speak critically of Islam in the larger public. The story she presents is therefore one of a supposedly “conservative Islam” and a good “liberal Islam.” She has her own fair share of blind spots. Left-wing Muslims may occasionally turn against the headscarf doctrine, but they are united with their Western comrades in their fight against America. Surprised that the Iranian revolution 1979 brought what it announced to bring, their major concern is still “(neo-)colonialism” and not freedom. A friend of late French authors Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Schwarzer also fails to see how imposing postmodernism on Islam and weaponizing the faith against the West is the actual left-wing concern about Muslims.
There were times when Alice Schwarzer featured gender studies icon Judith Butler in her magazine EMMA. Somehow feminism made its way into academia and without time to look at it in more detail she saw that as a good thing.
Alice Schwarzer, who was friends with late philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, has made a career of giving a voice to feminist causes in a manner everyone could understand. Judith Butler, on the other hand, made a career out of obfuscation of her own views with obtuse, pseudo-academic language. One cause, two departments, in wait for a clash.
It started with the publication of an essay critical of “queer-feminism” by a hardly known author in Schwarzer’s magazine. Newspaper DIE ZEIT gave Butler, the prima donna of the discipline, the chance to address the accusations against her field of “studies.”
The result was an innuendo game, suggesting that Alice Schwarzer and her magazine were racist. Even socialist newspaper taz wondered why indeed no arguments were given for Butler’s positions.
ZEIT was fair enough to allow Schwarzer to answer Butler in their news blog ZEIT online, which has a much larger audience than Schwarzer’s own magazine.
Schwarzer argues that Butler tries to pit the efforts in the fights against racism and sexism against one another, particularly when it comes to Islamism.
Butler’s proximity to Islamism is not new. The Jewish lesbian praised Hamas as a progressive movement and once accused all gays attending a pride march of islamophobia, culminating in her refusal to accept an undeserved award.
One woman, Schwarzer, is the face of feminism and yet has never fully treated it as a religion (though sometimes she was damn close). In doubt Schwarzer’s positions were always pro-women and pragmatic. The other woman, Butler, was not spearheading social campaigns, collecting money for good causes and making a difference. She rather served her narcissism by creating a community with speech codes, impervious to ideas from outside. Socialist paper taz also noted that Butler’s article was indeed all about policing other people’s speech.
Schwarzer may be fired by Google for her attitude, but the comment section under her ZEIT online article clearly suggests that people from all political persuasions were putting down their misgivings about her and applauded her piece.
Views may differ and I might have written unjustly about Butler, but whatever her positions are we may ask for the respect of her giving arguments and not play with innuendos.