Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Back hurts. Can't bend over anymore.

Picture 1
Big fuss going on at a Berlin-Reinickendorf day care center.  Seems they hired a man to take care of the kiddies.  A gay man.  And it seems the kids' parents are up in arms about it.  And bang, you’ve got a major news story because the parents are Muslims and don’t want a man changing their babies’ diapers and taking them to the bathroom.  Hell, they don’t even want him to hold their hands.

Picture 2 - How many differences can you find?
So many ways to take this story. The German right and the German left join forces here, the German right up in arms that these damn Muslims come into our country and try to take over, the German left because after all these years of working on gender equality we finally get men into child care and look what happens.  Can’t win for losing.

A third perspective is the homophobic one. It’s not just Muslim Germans who haven’t quite put their homophobia to rest. Lest they be turned into boogeymen too casually, consider a report on attitudes toward LGBT people issued this last January by the federal (German) anti-discrimination office. 24.1 percent of the general public stated they didn’t feel comfortable having gay men take care of their kids, and 19.6 didn’t even want lesbians for this job. So, if you wanted to, you could say this isn’t strictly a culture clash between Germans and outsiders over German values – which it is, of course. It’s more a clash between what some might call the values of the progressive modern class, which include fostering greater gender equality, and the values of traditional people where men work outside the house and you need a vagina to wash dishes properly. And take care of babies, obviously.

Interesting, (I'd say "sad" but we have to avoid that word these days), how we have sexualized the caretaking of children. Nobody thinks twice about a woman changing diapers.  Goes with being female. But when a man puts his hands on the body of a small baby, some people push the panic button. Why is that? Are we that primitive that we cannot see that people with healthy sexualities don’t make everything about sex. And most people have healthy sexualities. And if they don’t it has nothing to do with whether they are male or female. And that sorting the wheat from the chaff is a routine part of the job when you're hiring a caretaker of children.

That’s the perspective I take on all this, that the issue is not religion but social maturity. There are lots of places in this world where the working assumptions are a) that all people are heterosexual, and b) that they will have sex with each other at the slightest opportunity unless we scare the bejeezuz out of them with religion, or make the women live in bags, so as not to tempt the men, or otherwise chaperone them until they marry and then make sure they never get alone behind closed doors ever after that. [And yes, this applies to our Neanderthal vice president, too.]

We who lay claim to enlightened modern ways, from the bleeding heart liberals (what the German right calls Gutmenschen - see below) to the hardened cynics, have moved beyond such primitive notions. We have university dorms where the two sexes live together, sometimes even sharing bathrooms. We have women in the armed forces. And we measure social progress by the number of women in business and politics. The road to gender equality is filled with axle-busting potholes, to be sure. But we’re on it, and we don’t want to allow outsiders with retrograde values to join forces with home-growns with those retrograde values.

So what’s the strategy for addressing this challenge?

folks in the pot: "All cultures are equal"

Oh, no! Not those flavorless Gutmenschen again!
My first concern is that we don't pave the road to hell with more misguided good intentions. Remember when workers from Yugoslavia and Turkey and other places started pouring into Europe to help with the post-war rebuilding? The folks who today are referred to as “Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund” (People with a migration background) were then called “guest workers.” They were kept apart from regular German society because the bright-eyed idealists (Gutmenschen) of the day were thinking long term and wanted them not to lose their Turkish and be handicapped when they got home.  They were going back in a couple years and would need it. Gutmenschen is a word – literally “good people” - think “pinko leftie” – used by the right to describe the progressive left. That set the stage for the ghettos of today. Once separated, we came up with concepts such as “Leitkultur” (the dominant culture, the culture of the leading people, i.e., what the Germans would call their traditional German culture), thus loading it up with all the stuff modern German liberals wanted to bend over backwards to avoid – all this stuff from the Nazi era about racist cultural superiority.

That’s what’s going on here today. Bending over backwards is hard on the back and German liberals are beginning to straighten up. So no, you can’t ask us not to hire a gay male teacher to care for your kids while you earn a living. You need to get used to the idea that men make marvelous caretakers. And, by the way, if you want to congratulate us on being progressive about gender equality, feel free to jump in here anytime with a change of heart. In the meantime, you’re certainly free to seek out another day center.

Problem with that, of course, is that the person running this center in Reinickendorf can’t make much of a living if all the parents pull their kids out. I hope there’s some sort of back-up system to bail her out until things start looking up.

I don’t think the alternative – to let the homophobes call the shots – is the answer.

I mean, ask yourself how you’d react to the following:

  • I’m sorry, but I need my baby to have a white person for a caretaker. I don’t want to see black hands changing my baby’s diaper.
  •  I’m sorry, but where I come from we don’t like Jews.  I don’t want my kids to have a Jewish teacher.
Sorry folks. Welcome to Europe of the 21st century. We’ve been where you are. We left it behind for good reason. And we’re not going back.

Kita 2: http://www.morgenpost.de/vermischtes/article210093507/Muslimische-Eltern-wehren-sich-gegen-schwulen-Kita-Erzieher.html

all cultures are equal: https://www.pi-news.net/2016/01/der-diffizile-begriff-gutmensch/

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