Monday, April 19, 2010
German Green Party Unveils a 'New Man' Manifesto
I wish them luck with their aim of feminizing German men. There are girly men in all populations but on the whole I cannot think of a male population less likely to be feminized than German men. They have been a warrior race since the days of the Roman Republic and it shows. How come a "Green" party became a feminist party anyhow? Looks like the Greens have become the refuge for all Germany's wackos.
The British Greens are an LGBT party, so I presume that applies to the German party too. Can we expect a "Pedophiles are just misunderstood" manifesto next? Or maybe a "clitorodectomy is a basic human right for Muslim girls" campaign? And if not, why not?
A new manifesto from the German Green Party aims to banish macho men for good. It has stirred debate among men, even if a number of female Green politicians remain unconvinced.
The German Green Party has made a name for itself at the cutting edge of women's rights. It was the first party to have a 50 percent quota for women in list-based elections -- and they always put a woman at the top of the list. At Green Party conferences men and women give speeches in strict alternation. No other German party takes the equality issue so seriously, and this weekend the Greens, once again, are holding a two-day National Women's Conference in the city of Bonn.
Even if some male party members think the Greens tend to exaggerate a bit on this issue, they do not dare say so publicly. Instead a new group of young party members has come up with an even stronger gender message, this time shining the spotlight on men: "We no longer need to be macho!" is the title of their manifesto which deals with "equality and male feminism."
The signatories include several Green politicians from the European parliament, the German Bundestag as well as local Green leaders. "We no longer want to be macho," it declares, "we want to be people. You are not born a man, you are turned into one."
The men's manifesto makes two main points. First, men need to break out of their traditional gender roles. "We need a new awareness of a new masculinity," write its co-authors Sven Lehmann and Jan Philipp Albrecht. Second, they argue that their fellow men need to realize that real equality will not happen without their participation.
"We want to live differently!" writes Lehmann, a senior member of the North Rhine-Westphalia branch of the party, and the European parliamentarian Albrecht. They appeal for a slower pace of life, less focus on profit and more health consciousness. They want to start holding "Boys' Days and gender-sensitive career-guidance sessions."
"Interest in mechanical engineering is not something we are born with," they say.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the manifesto, which has recently been posted online, has sparked all sorts of angry responses. Co-author Albrecht says he was expecting the flood of insults like "bloody homos." But less expected were comments like: "What's this subject got to do with you?"
For Albrecht that was exactly the point, because "women are ahead in this issue -- now men have to take the lead," he says. Or, as co-author Lehmann puts it: "Where are men in the equal rights debate?"
The manifesto is signed by politicians from both the left and the center of the party, both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Even the party's co-chief Cem Özdemir has welcomed the initiative. "Gender justice has been a key concern for the Green Party since it was founded," he says. "Therefore, it is also an issue for men." The problems described by the smooth-talking Özdemir match the tenor of the feminist debate: "We are witnessing a public discussion by men about men, even though some men feel a bit uncomfortable about the deconstruction of the male role."
The Green co-leader himself has experience toying with stereotypes. Following the birth of his second child he took a few weeks off from party leadership, making a name for himself as the nappy-changing politician of the moment. But even that is not enough for the anti-macho manifesto writers: Are men really becoming "new fathers"? they ask. "Or it is actually a 'mirage' which merely allows fathers a prolonged break from their jobs?"
This could be read as a critique of the nappy-changing party leader, one signatory admitted, but went on to stress that a party leader is not in a position to take a prolonged stint off work, like many other fathers.
Green Women Want More
So what do female members of the Green Party make of this? Astrid Rothe-Beinlich, the Green spokesperson for women's issues, welcomes the new manifesto. "The Greens have always been a progressive party," she says, adding it was high time "that men also take responsibility for the issue of equality." But their party colleagues should not simply applaud the manifesto, she says. The question now, in her words, is, "How can it be implemented?"
Franza Drechsel, Green Youth spokesperson for gender and political affairs, also praised the new manifesto in principle. "It is good that men participate in the debate," she says, adding "this is far from enough ... the authors remain stuck in the rut of talking about two sexes." Above all, the debate is not just about men, she argues: "In the long term we can only be in this together."
But Green Party women are not exactly cooperative either, because this weekend they are keeping to themselves. The speakers at the National Women's Congress in Bonn are exclusively female. So the question remains: When will the Green anti-macho men hold their first national meeting?
Europe on path to tyranny, Church of England warns
The Church of England has accused the European Union of neglecting its Christian heritage and warned that it is at risk of creating "secular tyranny". In a hard-hitting report on the failures of officials in Brussels, the church says Europe has been left "more uncertain of its future and more mistrusted by its citizens than ever before".
Commissioned by the church's bishops, the document argues the European Parliament is suffering from a "democratic deficit" and expresses concern that the continent faces "a perfect storm".
It is critical of the way that politicians have marginalised Christianity and calls on them to build a more united society by promoting values that are influenced by religious principles.
The comments come as church leaders have stepped up their battle to defend the freedom of worshippers, with a former Archbishop of Canterbury last week attacking "disturbing" and "dangerous" rulings made by judges in religious discrimination cases in Britain.
Lord Carey was intervening in a case being brought by a Christian relationship counsellor who wants a special panel of five senior judges to hear his appeal against being sacked for refusing to counsel homosexual couples.
The church report says the drive for inclusivity and equality has led to the playing down of key elements of the EU's history. "As secular organisations, in the pluralist world of the 21st century, the institutions of the EU can tend to take for granted or avoid aspects of Europe's Christian inheritance," it says.
"If the EU is to draw inspiration from its cultural, religious and humanist inheritance with integrity, it needs to be more at ease with its Christian history and to articulate this within a Europe that is spiritually hungry for its values to be substantial and life-giving. Most European politicians are reluctant to give emphasis to the fundamental connections between the Christian faith and the values of the contemporary European Union."
In 2004 fears were raised the EU was becoming more intolerant of Christians after Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian Catholic, was blocked from becoming European Commissioner because he followed the church's teaching on homosexuality. The European Constitution - signed in the same year, although never ratified - excluded all mention of God.
The church document says "for the majority of citizens Europe is becoming less united and more distant", pointing to the rapid inclusion of 200 million people as part of the union following the admittance of several eastern European countries.
The report marked the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, the the European Coal and Steel Community accord which evolved into the EU.
Australian human rights act canned as election looms
THE federal government is preparing to announce that it will not create a human rights act for Australia despite the recommendations of a report it commissioned last year.
The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, is planning to outline the government's response to the report, by a human rights consultation committee headed by the Jesuit lawyer Father Frank Brennan, in a National Press Club speech on Wednesday.
Sources say he is likely to promise improved parliamentary scrutiny of new laws for human rights issues, the addition of human rights to the national schools curriculum, and increased funding and functions for the Australian Human Rights Commission.
But, as predicted, the government appears set to sidestep the key reform - a bill or charter of rights - because cabinet is divided on its political implications.
It is unclear whether a bill of rights has been ruled out or simply shelved for further debate if the government wins a second term. Mr McClelland's office would not comment yesterday.
The expected response would be a victory for the federal opposition and Labor figures such as former premier Bob Carr and the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, who have campaigned against a bill of rights. Mr Hatzistergos was heard to quip to former Labor MP and rights advocate Susan Ryan at a recent constitutional law conference at the Art Gallery of NSW that he was ''sorry for her loss''.
Although most developed nations have one, resistance to a bill or charter of rights has centred around fears of a power shift from parliaments to judges, who would be asked to assess whether laws are compatible with human rights, although without the power of veto. There have also been fears it could prevent religious institutions such as schools from hiring religious staff.
Cabinet has considered the issue several times, and is reported to remain divided.
Some ministers are said to feel the political battle for a bill of rights is not worth the pain, especially before an election.
But others are said to be concerned about the effect of squibbing the charter issue in marginal inner-city seats where the Greens - who support a bill - are posing a threat to sitting members.
Ms Ryan, the chairwoman of the Australian Human Rights Group, said any government response that fell short of a human rights act ''would be a huge disappointment among all those organisations that work for vulnerable people and are hoping for a better deal from the government''.
If not this week, she said she expected it would happen in the future.
The Brennan report's recommendations were based on public consultations across the country and 35,014 written responses, of which 27,888 supported a charter or human rights act, while 4203 were against it.
Australian Red Cross to review its policy on banning homosexual men from donating blood
There are good medical reasons to avoid blood transfusions. This would add another one
THE Australian Red Cross is reviewing its long-standing policy banning homosexual men from donating blood.
Gay rights lobby groups have backed the review, due to begin within 12 months, which could see homosexual men able to donate blood for the first time since 1985.
Currently, men who have had homosexual sex within a 12-month period are banned from donating blood.
Australian Red Cross Blood Service spokesman Nicholas McGowan said the policy was in place because even though all samples are tested for HIV and other blood-borne diseases, they were not "foolproof". "The issue with HIV-AIDS is there's still a window that even the most sensitive tests can't detect," Mr McGowan said.
Mr McGowan said the Red Cross would consider new research and technology as part of the review but warned against expectations it would definitely result in a relaxing of the policy. "I don't think that should stop us from taking this opportunity to talk it all through." he said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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