Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Germany Faces the Issue of Sexual Equality

For John, BLUFThere are different values across the world.  The question is what happens when they are in conflict.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Staff of Der Spiegel gives us a look at immigration— "Sexism and Islam:  'Where I'm From, This is Handled By Men'".

Here is an extract from the longish article:

"Cologne brought our issues to the fore," says theater teacher Yilmaz Atmaca, one of the co-founders of the Heroes project.  Ilhan, now 23, studies psychology and works as a group leader.  Seven boys from the program got together in the first week of January to try to come up with an explanation for the Cologne sexual assaults.  In their view, the assaults reflect a bizarre understanding of honor.  "I'm afraid that the perpetrators felt that women who were wearing Western clothes and were out alone at night had no honor.  This is precisely the attitude we want to prevent with our work."  At the same time, the young men also felt attacked. They have been campaigning for women's rights for years, "and now people are suddenly saying across the board that the Arab man is a threat."

Muslim men are not the only ones who feel unsettled since Cologne. Many people in Germany are concerned about the tension between the desire to stand up for women's rights and the desire to show solidarity for refugees.  Is it acceptable to lower our standards on emancipation in deference to foreign customs?  The Federal Employment Agency is also grappling with this question.  It trains its employees in both "intercultural sensitization" and "gender sensitivity."  The problem is that "intercultural competency" and "gender competency" are not always compatible.  What happens, for example, when a Muslim customer refuses to shake a female coworker's hand?  Should the woman accept this as being correct from an intercultural perspective, or should she take the standpoint of gender sensitivity and insist on a handshake?  "There can be contradictions between a consultation that focuses on sensitivity to migrants and one that emphasizes gender sensitivity," says Eva Peters, director of a project that provides advanced training advice.

For Julia Klöckner, opposition leader for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the decision was clear.  About four months ago, she chose not to meet with an imam who refused to shake her hand.  It was a bold move, but one that raises a necessary question about the limits of tolerance.  She was making the point that women cannot be expected to accept discrimination out of consideration for cultural differences.

When we are talking immigration we need to ask if we are prepared to accept more than minuscule numbers of people from radically different cultures and allow them to retain that culture.  If we have in our nation, our Commonwealth, our City, men who will not work with women, who will not accept women as supervisors, it will be a major blow to our development of gender equality.

We do, in these United States, accept small communities of people with different cultures, such as the Amish and Jews in places like Kiryas Joel.  But, they are isolated and people earn their livings in restricted areas of employment.  There is a question as to how wide spread this can be while we still allow for the kinds of freedoms we, as the majority, enjoy.

We can not blindly accept large numbers of refugees without risking our own culture.  This is the issue our European Cousins are dealing with at this time.

I am for immigration, and also for helping to settle refugees here in the United States, but there is no free lunch.  We should enter into this with our eyes open and an open and frank discussion of all that is involved.  Shaming people to suppress a full discussion is not helpful.

Regards  —  Cliff

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