Children, Church, Kitchen

“Kinder, Kirche, Kuche.” Designating the social role of women, the old slogan continues to haunt Germany, today. Suffering the lowest wages in the EU (23.2% less than men) and amongst the poorest representation in corporate leadership (only 3.7 percent sit on the boards of listed firms, according to Germany’s Labor Minister) to foreign women with executive experience, such statistics can be shocking.

Well, perhaps not so much. Though I have not had the same experience working in this country, it’d be impossible to make oneself oblivious to the feelings of marginalization expressed by German women. For example, in August, Berlin witnessed one of Europe’s more charged Slutwalks, with women protesting every manner of discrimination imaginable. Though the city is not exactly unknown for being outspoken, such demonstrations come from very real places.

This sticker, taped to a lamp post near my home, sums up the anger one can pick up here quite nicely. Yes, it’s a bit over the top, and its subject is violence, not labor. However, sometimes it is only because of such posturing that men, and other women, will sit up and take notice. Would somebody please prevail upon the Chancellor? I recognize that she’s a conservative. However, one would think that being female, it might occur to Frau Merkel that something is really wrong here.

Photograph courtesy of the author

3 comments

  1. Thanks for the piece Jennifer, I had no idea. Those stats are quite shocking. I thought Germany was much more forward…
    C. x

  2. Thanks for reading, Carl. Yeah, Germany, along with other western countries, can appear so forward, even progressive at times (however fragmented). But then reality is entirely different. x

  3. I simply don’t get the connection between slogans as this one and a inequality in payment and career opportunities.

    Those are not a by product of raging sexual violence, they are the result individual choices – getting a degree in Latin American Literature instead of Electrical Engineering *will* have an impact on your income – and of social policies that deliberately favor marriages with one bread winner and a stay at home mom over sharing the burden of reproductive work between both spouses.

    You say “Though I have not had the same experience working in this country, it’d be impossible to make oneself oblivious to the feelings of marginalization expressed by German women”.

    I encourage you to go a typical university and ask the women there whether or not they expect to be discriminated against throughout their career. I can guarantee that the overwhelming majority will strongly reject such nonsense.

    But when they give birth to their first child, they will decide to take a year off. After that year, they will decide to work only half time, partly because it’s hard to get full time day care arranged, and partly because the marginal revenue of a second income is pretty low thanks to aforementioned social policies.

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