- The video feature “Men’s Worlds”, which was broadcast on ProSieben this week and went viral, has since been criticized on the Internet from many directions.
- The TV presenters Joko Winterscheidt and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf had earned 15 minutes of free air time and used this to have women like author Sophie Passmann report on sexual harassment of women.
- In this guest post, the transactivist Phenix Kühnert describes why the post does not take many people into account and therefore discriminates against them.
This article is an external guest post by 24-year-old activist Phenix Kühnert, who campaigns for the rights of transsexual people and the LGBTQIA + community. In her podcast she is currently dealing with this topic in a sexism series.
By now you should have probably seen all the “men’s worlds”, the TV feature by Joko Winterscheidt and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf on the subject of harassment of women. The intention behind it was good. In my opinion, the only problem was the implementation. Because although it was good that Joko and Klaas moderators like Palina Rojinski and Sophie Passmann left the stage instead of “mansplaining” – many marginalized groups were still excluded. In addition, the moderators worked with the controversial organization “Terre des Femme”, parts of the board openly deny, among other things, transsexuality. As a trans * woman, I am deeply shocked that this organization is given a platform in such a wide-reaching contribution. Because the broadcast material suggests: I am not relevant, I am not normal.
But right from the start: the two TV presenters Joko Winterscheidt and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf had previously earned 15 minutes of free broadcasting time on their regular channel ProSieben and used this to draw attention to the serious topic with their show “Men’s Worlds – Harassment of Women” .
The television feature was broadcast at prime time at 8:15 p.m. and then published on YouTube. Within minutes, the feeds of my social channels like Instagram were full of the video, everyone shared it. It was everywhere. And the people shouted enthusiastically: “Moved to tears, look in people!”, “So important! Thanks @jokoundklaas ”.
I also looked inside. Me, as a 24-year-old trans woman. I, as a trans * activist, who unfortunately was the victim of sexual harassment several times. For many years I have been sharing my way to myself and how I deal with discrimination and harassment on Instagram and Youtube. My goal is to educate as many people as possible. Because only through understanding and empathy is a sustainable change, tolerance and more awareness of society possible.
It is about representation
I still liked the first few minutes of the post. The author Sophie Passmann presents the fictitious art exhibition “Men’s Worlds”: a collection of penis images that men had sent women without asking. After her, various white cis women from the media landscape come onto the scene. For those who have not yet dealt with heteronormative gender images: Cis women or cis men are those whose gender identity corresponds to the gender that was assigned to them at birth. For the record: I am not one of these people.
They present online sexist hate comments and messages that could be viewed as sexual assault. It is very important that we all become aware of what is happening in the “anonymity” of the Internet. We can only change something if we open our mouths and tell our stories. The article shows a large audience what many people in our society have to endure every day. This is important. But when I looked at it, I became more and more aware that the editors worked very one-dimensionally.
One could get the impression that only young, white, slim cis women could do this. Because even when the celebrities told their stories, only “women like you and me” will continue to be shown in the next sections of the show – white, slim Cis women between 25 and 35 years. They should represent our society. However, they discriminate against all women who experience sexism every day, but do not correspond to this supposed ideal. Anyone who thinks I’m hypersensitive at this point should look up the definition of discrimination.
In this part of the exhibition, seven non-prominent women report sexual harassment that they experienced. What happened to them is terrible, their reports very moving. Unfortunately, this section also excludes all women who deviate from the “norm”.
The critical collaboration with Terre des Femmes
Finally, Sophie Passmann shows the last part of the exhibition: various outfits that are modeled on the clothes of victims of rape. In addition, the terrible, true stories are recorded. For this part of the exhibition, the editorial team cooperated with the women’s rights organization Terre des Femmes. The organization has been criticized many times, among other things, it has been accused of anti-Muslim racism because it demands a ban on the headscarf for minors, as the daily newspaper “Taz” writes.
It wasn’t until the end of April that Stefanie Bode, one of the association’s chairmen, wrote an open letter to the German Bundestag. In this, she calls for the law on protection against conversion treatment in children and adolescents to be amended and for transsexual children to continue to receive this type of therapy. Conversion treatments offer putative therapies to “heal” homosexual and trans * people. It was not until the end of 2019 that the Federal Cabinet approved the bill by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) to ban these treatments. Bode writes in the letter: “There is (…) no scientific evidence that it is possible to be born in a ‘wrong’ body or to ‘change’ your gender at the chromosome level.” She also feels it is absurd and dangerous if the assumption that transsexuality actually exists remains part of the law.
It has long been assumed that bumblebees cannot fly according to the laws of physics. This has already been refuted. So: Dear Ms. Bode, we are happy to have a coffee. There is me A beautiful bumblebee of chromosome biology. And I’m not the only one.
I also experience sexism. Every day.
Of course, this topic has to be debated in the mainstream. “Men’s Worlds” triggers a discussion that we need and changes something in the mind. But the contribution also moves negatives: trans * persons, people of color, women beyond the classic concept of slenderness and other minorities are thereby denied their normality. We are not represented as if we were not affected. It suggests: we are not “normal” and our suffering seems less relevant. Many of us have been telling their story openly for years. With a little research, we could have been found. Because as a trans woman I am not only exposed to the annoyances that every woman * experiences; I am also perceived as a fetish. Please don’t get me wrong: I never want to offset people’s suffering against each other. It is important to me that people like me, or other often marginalized groups, are not taken into account – even if you make an effort to draw attention to abuses and discrimination. And that shows what it looks like in the heads, we will “forget”, mostly unintentionally.
How could this happen?
In the past I had already worked with the production company as an actress and was then very much pushed into a cliché corner, my styling was subject to sexist prejudices. Looking back, I notice that the editorial team – at least at that time – was hardly diverse, or at least looked like it. And here is the problem: To tackle such a social issue, you either need an incredibly enlightened team or one that is diverse. Then the meeting would inevitably have noticed that not all women are white, slim, cis-gendered and between 25 and 35 years old. And sexism and sexual harassment affects all of us.
* I use asterisks behind gender-related words to express that people who do not fit into the “classic” binary gender male or female or who identify with other “categories” of gender identities are also included. Since this is an external guest post, this is not the same as the language used by NewsABC.net.