A second wave hits Denmark

TAusende women across Denmark have reported sexism and harassment in the past few weeks – in a country that is seen as a role model for equality. Almost two weeks ago, Morten Östergaard, dashing chairman of the social liberals, who have taken up the fight against sexism, resigned. It had previously become public that he had tried to cover up the harassment of a party colleague.

MP Lotte Rod reported in September that ten years ago she had the hand of a colleague on her thigh without naming her. Later she wrote on Facebook: “Morten apologized and I forgave him. The problem is no longer what happened, but how it was dealt with. “

Alleged equality paradise

When women around the world spoke about discrimination and sexual assault in the course of the #MeToo movement in 2017, this sparked a public debate in Denmark as well. However, this did not trigger a profound change in the country, which always scores very well in international studies on gender equality.

#MeToo has often been seen as a “minority issue, something that is not really Danish,” says Camilla Möhring Reestorff, an expert in cultural and media studies at Aarhus University.

According to an international YouGov study last year, only one in six Danes consider themselves a feminist, compared to almost one in two respondents in neighboring Sweden. Danes tend to see themselves as “progressive, free and equal,” explains Möhring Reestorff. This self-image could “make us a bit blind when it comes to sexism”.

But when thousands of women, including celebrities, doctors, academics and musicians, reported about sexism or harassment in the past few months, the topic had reached the public consciousness. The mass descriptions “trigger a domino effect and make people aware of the need for collective change,” says anthropologist Christian Groes from the University of Roskilde. “There was a debate in 2017/2018, now we have a movement for social justice.”

Oral sex for a promotion

TV presenter Sofie Linde got it rolling: at the end of August, she was astonished when she told live at a TV gala how a television manager had offered her a promotion twelve years ago in return for oral sex.

1,600 women then signed an open letter in which they stated that they had also experienced sexism in their careers. And equality minister Mogens Jensen stressed on Twitter that he wanted to “put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace”.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also called for a cultural change via Instagram. “We have not succeeded in creating jobs with equal conditions,” she wrote at the end of September. “We’re going to change that, from now on.”

At the same time, the Social Democrat reaffirmed her confidence in her Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. Kofod resigned as the party’s foreign affairs spokesman in 2008 after admitting sex with a fifteen-year-old at a party event. Denmark’s minimum age for sexual activity is 15 years. The then thirty-four year old apologized for his “lack of judgment” and “morally inappropriate relationship” with the youngster.

Kofod’s political career, however, suffered no permanent damage. He was appointed Foreign Minister after the 2019 elections.


Petition against “catcalling”: Get out of the legal gray area

Whistling afterwards, slogans, demonstrations of power: a petition wants to create a criminal offense of its own for so-called catcalling. Does that bring anything?

Women defend themselves against catcalling with chalk – in New York and now worldwide Photo: Photo: Spencer Platt / afp

“How much?” One of the two men asked me. My friend and I sat on a small wall in downtown Pforzheim and waited for the bus. It was hot, probably July or August. After our visit to the outdoor pool, my bikini was not yet completely dry and had left wet stains on my top. That seemed reason enough for the two men downtown to stare at my breasts.

When one of them asked, I just returned an irritated look. “How much that I can fuck her?” He pushed. Mind you, the question was directed to my friend, not me. When only silence could be heard from both of us, they turned away laughing.

That was a good 13 years ago, I was 16. I didn’t know the term “catcalling” at the time, but it’s the experience with it that I can still remember today.

There is no German equivalent for the term “catcalling”, one could say “verbal sexual harassment”. Whistling after, sayings like “Hey Sexy” or “Come over here, sweetie”, an “invitation” to get into the car, or kissing noises – all these are forms of catcalling. And for many, mostly women, they are part of everyday life in the workplace, on the street and in other public places. According to a study by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, 44 percent of the women questioned have already experienced sexist attacks in Germany. Half of it took place verbally. In other studies, the number of those affected is significantly higher, up to 85 percent.

A complaint demands resources from those affected. How hard it would be to punish catcalling in Germany also depends on the form of the law

Although several studies have confirmed that catcalling has negative effects on the psyche of those affected, it is not a separate punishment in Germany. Sexual assaults are prohibited under Article 177 of the Criminal Code, but for this punishment there must have been contact. Sexual intrusiveness, however, begins before the person is touched. “Verbal insults” are also prohibited under Article 185, but ultimately difficult to punish and the sexism aspect is not taken into account. Catcalling therefore remains in a legal gray area. The 20-year-old student Antonia Quell now wants to change that and has therefore started the petition “It’s 2020. Catcalling should be a criminal offense.”

Quell started the petition out of personal concern. She herself has often been affected by catcalling. “I’m just shocked every time what some people in our society are doing, and I wanted to do something about it,” she told taz. And she’s not alone: ​​within a month, over 50,000 people signed the petition. Quelle would now like to hand this over to Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and submit it to the Bundestag so that the Petitions Committee has to deal with it. A first step on a possible path to changing the law.

The high number of unreported cases

It is April 2020, the corona pandemic has reached its peak so far. While walking along the Landwehr Canal in Berlin-Neukölln, I meet a young man on a bicycle who comes to a stop next to me and asks: “Hey, sweetie, want to ride a lap on my luggage rack?” I decline with thanks. He gets back on his saddle, drives on and calls out to me: “Was I’m joking, you’re too fat for me anyway. ”I have now lost my horror and the speechlessness of my youth. I consciously ignore such sayings or try to react quickly. Despite everything, catcalling remains annoying and degrading. I would probably only file a complaint in exceptional cases.

Figures from countries in which catcalling is already a separate punishment, such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal or the Philippines, show that many of those affected feel this way. Since 2018, people in France have been fined up to 750 euros. If the person concerned is under 15 years old, it can be up to 1,500 euros. According to the State Secretary Marlène Schiappa, who is responsible for gender equality, around 700 fines were due in the first year. But the number of unreported cases will be much higher.

There were even fewer reports in Belgium, where sexist insults have been punished with fines and penalties since 2014. In the first four years there were only 25 charges and only one conviction. In this case, in June 2016, a young man insulted a policewoman as a “dirty whore” and advised her to look for a job that would suit a woman. He was sentenced to pay a fine of 3,000 euros. The main reason for this verdict is that several police officers were witnesses to the incident. But only in the rarest of cases does the police stand by when you find out about catcalling.

Raise awareness in society

The cases from Germany’s neighboring countries show that the introduction of your own penalties is not the ultimate means against catcalling. Because mostly these are fleeting everyday encounters – and it can be difficult to legally prove that whistling afterwards has a sexist component. It looks easier with insults that have a specific sexist reference, but here, too, evidence or stuff is needed: inside to convict. And although it is socially clear that catcalling is not a compliment, it is not that easy to define legally.

In addition, a report demands emotional and time resources from those affected. How hard it would be to punish catcalling in Germany also depends on the form of the law.

Quell sees the problem and, when asked, refers to other sexualized acts of violence: “The conviction rate for rape is also low, but this form of violent assault should of course still be punishable,” she says. For the student, the introduction of the new penalties should also be a sign against victim blaiming. “The fact that you have legal protection is emotionally important for those affected. Because if behavior is illegal, the victims are reassured that it is not their fault what they experience, no matter what they look like or what they are wearing, ”she says.

For Quell, it’s also about raising society’s awareness of catcalling. She’s not the first to try this. In 2014 the video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” went online. It shows how the actress Shoshana Roberts walks in different districts of New York equipped with a hidden camera. In the two-minute clip on YouTube, 108 incidents are reported. These range from a simple “hello” to minutes of persecution and sexist slogans. The video has been streamed 49 million times since then, sparking a debate about the safety of women on the streets. The same happened after a few years later a 20-year-old student from Amsterdam posted photos of her catcallers on Instagram.

However, these actions not only sparked debate, they also generated resistance. Because in the minds of many, catcalling is still labeled as a (unsuccessful) attempt at flirtation. Similar negative reactions can also be read in Quell’s petition: “Be happy about the compliments” or “If you don’t like it, then just ignore the sayings”, commented quite a few.

The introduction of its own penalties could ideally lead to society no longer seeing compliments in catcalling, but rather an encroaching display of power. And long-term studies from the countries in question should show whether the introduction of fines also has a deterrent effect on others. But even if only a fraction of those affected are willing to file a complaint, a change in the law would at least be preceded by an important symbolic power. Namely, that sexism has no place on the street.


Lindner, Merz and Discrimination: The Sexism In Us

Christian Lindner and Friedrich Merz knock old man’s sayings at the expense of women and homosexuals. They hope for an audience that will approve of such statements.

Grin, art break, totally unintentional. Simply old in thinking: Christian Lindner and Friedrich Merz Photo: David Charisins / dpa

It was a week of linguistic lapses. First Christian Lindner humiliated the general secretary Linda Teuteberg, who had been killed by him, at the FDP party congress with a sexist “joke”: he had started his day with Teuteberg 300 times, he said, took a break to catch laughter in the audience and then followed up : “I speak about our daily morning phone call about the political situation. Not what you think now. “

CDU man Friedrich Merz made a similar misstep when, when asked whether he could imagine a gay chancellor, he linked homosexuality with child abuse. Everything in 2020. Weren’t we already further?

The interesting thing is that both statements came across as surprisingly backward-looking, but at the same time so everyday and “heard a thousand times” – it was just everyday sexism and everyday homophobia par excellence. The fact that Lindner and Merz both felt misunderstood in retrospect is only an expression of their permanent self-infliction.

Nevertheless, it is too easy to dismiss Merz and Lindner as yesterday and to claim that the rest of society is already further. The degradation of others is a tried and tested means of maintaining power. It’s also like this: Friedrich Merz is running for the chairmanship of the CDU – and his polls are not too bad. And Lindner is still the FDP leader, even if his party is currently not soaring.

These men are not just from the present, they may also be men of the future. It is far from clear that these escapades necessarily lead to poor approval ratings. Considering the Trump principle, the opposite could also happen.

Progress is not necessarily linear; all social achievements can also be lost again

Lindner and Merz are both rhetorically trained and not new to politics. Both apparently assume that there is an audience that approves of such sayings. It is therefore not exaggerated to deal with these apparently only spoken words. The public can and should ask politicians not to discriminate against anyone with words.

“Anyone who wants Merz as their chancellor and Lindner as their deputy wants a rollback to the 1950s,” criticized SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil. But it is dangerous to locate the two men in a past that is long gone.

It was not 1950, but 2001, when Klaus Wowereit was the first top politician to openly address his homosexuality with his sentence “I am gay – and that’s a good thing!”. In 2005 Angela Merkel became the first woman to be elected to the Chancellery. Both moments were milestones in emancipation. But progress is not necessarily linear; all social achievements can also be lost again.

Narrowing the problem only to the two people Merz and Lindner or the CDU and the FDP obscures the view of the whole picture. The fact that today gay and lesbian politicians can act more naturally in political operations without having to cover up this part of their identity, and that women occupy ministerial posts does not mean that everyone lives non-discriminatory.

Despite legal achievements, sexism, homophobia and trans-hostility are still common – in all social milieus, in all parties. Anyone who claims otherwise is misunderstanding the reality of life for those affected.

There is also discrimination in left, progressive circles. Identifying Merz and Lindner as culprits can also serve to just make sure that you are on the right side. But perhaps this only reveals the discrepancy between modern social discourse and a society that is not as progressive as some would like it to be.


Dorothee Bär against right-wing populist Tichy: The anti-sexist from the CSU

Because of a sexist text in “Tichy’s Insight”, Bär shows solidarity with Sawsan Chebli. Another reason not to underestimate them.

Bär (CSU) has triggered a small revolution in the realm of the right and the rich Foto: Political Moments/imago images

In waves of outrage, it is often not easy to separate what is really relevant from rhetorical residual waste. Especially this week, in which half of the German men felt their way back to the emancipatory Stone Age with FDP breakfast director Christian Lindner, CDU gay fright Fritze Merz and RBB night watchman Serdar Somuncu. All pathetic, but more likely to be forgotten.

It is all the more remarkable how effectively the CSU politician Dorothee Bär reacted to another, particularly blatant case of sexism. “That is disgusting filth! Where’s that garbage? “, Bär tweeted when she read an article about the Berlin State Secretary Sawsan Chebli (SPD). It read: “What speaks for Sawsan?” And further: “Friends of the journalists have so far only been able to determine the G-spot as a plus point.”

When Bär found out who was writing so disrespectfully and at the same time blatantly lustful, namely the right wing magazine “Tichys insight”, Bär immediately resigned from the Ludwig-Erhard-Stiftung, which is headed by “insight” boss Roland Tichy. Lo and behold: After further protests, Tichy announced his withdrawal from the chairmanship of the business-liberal foundation.

A small revolution in the realm of the right and the rich. Triggered by bear. Yes, that’s right, the much smiled at air taxi driver from Franconia, who is Minister of State in the Chancellery for Digitization, but is still not taken seriously by many and is called “Doro”. Bär has always been faster, more quick-witted and more modern than most of the CSU traditionalists.

Of course, there would have been many reasons in the past to distance yourself from Islamophobia preacher Tichy, but Bär chose a good one: Solidarity with Sawsan Chebli, who is insulted alternately sexist or racist every day – and who opposes it admirably stoically.

Bear and Chebli – their political origins could hardly be more different. But what both women have in common is that they appear as stylish and confident as they want. That this is precisely why they are often reduced to their femininity and defamed. And that they won’t put up with it. A feminist coalition that will hopefully last longer than that of the Union and the SPD.


France, beaten on the street in Strasbourg “because she was wearing a skirt”

Swollen face – “Look at that bitch in the skirt.” Thus begins the nightmare of Elisabeth, a 22-year-old girl who lives in Strasbourg. As she was walking home, she was attacked by a group of three men and this one left insult. When the young woman replied with “You’re welcome?” the pack attacked her and hit her in the face as well. A beating which according to Elisabeth’s testimony lasted several minutes without anyone intervening.

Government solidarity – The girl told what happened, venting on her social and from that moment on the case went national. He arrived as far as Paris, in the government buildings, so much so that the minister delegate responsible for citizenship Marlène Schiappa went to Strasbourg for a meeting on the subject of safety of women in public spaces. “Women are attacked because there are misogynistic, sexist, violent people” the minister affirmed with peremptory terms and invited citizens to collaborate with the police, who have already launched investigations to identify those responsible


FDPlerin on Lindner’s sexist joke: “Just slipped out”

Christian Lindner made a sexist joke. FDP politician Maren Jasper-Winter did not find it funny – but believes it was a mistake.

Linda Teuteberg and Christian Lindner at the 70th FDP party conference in April 2019 in Berlin Photo: Annegrte Greetings / SVEN SIMON / image

taz: Ms. Jasper-Winter, FDP leader Christian Lindner made a sexist “joke” about the outgoing Secretary General Linda Teuteberg at the party conference on Saturday. He said: “I like to think about it, Linda, that in the past 15 months we started the day about 300 times, I guessed it roughly, about 300 times.” Then the audience laughed and he made it clear : “I talk about our daily morning phone call about the political situation. Not what you’re thinking now. ”Could you laugh at that?

Maren Jasper-Winter: No. Incidentally, not many others either. It was reported that there were laughter at that. I perceived that as a very isolated laugh. The majority of the people who sat around me were alienated.

In the meantime, Lindner has apologized and claimed that it came about spontaneously and was misleading. But it’s just circulating a video, which shows how Lindner made a similar “joke” about Claudia Roth in 2017. Doesn’t that damage his political credibility?

There are thousands of sayings of this kind. It’s not OK. But I believe Christian Lindner that the apology is meant seriously. I believe him that this slipped out of the tense situation.

The relationship between Lindner and Teuteberg war before the party congress very burdened. A.On Saturday it became official replaced by Volker Wissing. And of all things is he making such a faux pas with his parting words? He must have thought about it.

I think so too: he will have thought very carefully about his parting words because the relationship between the two is probably complicated. But this subsequent sentence “Not what you are thinking now”, this sentence turned it in the wrong direction. And it was obviously spontaneous.

He’s already made this “joke” with Claudia Roth. He said: “I woke up this morning with Claudia Roth.” Then, just like at the party congress, he planned a break, waited for the laughter and then said: “Sorry, I said ‘with’, not ‘next to’ . “You can’t sell that as spontaneity.

Maybe it just slipped out because he made the joke like that before. He was in an uncomfortable situation, maybe that was just a sign of uncertainty. I believe him that he sincerely regrets it.

is women’s policy spokeswoman for the Berlin House of Representatives

Aren’t incidents like Lindner’s “joke” a reason why the FDP is so badly received by women?

The saying does not work, but it is not symptomatic of the state of the party and how it stands in the participation of women. We have come a lot further in the past few years than you can see from this saying. Our program at the party congress was largely brought forward by the women. The proposal to lower the voting age to 16 was the preparatory work of the Young Liberals under Ria Schröder. There was an urgent foreign policy motion from Gyde Jensen. On the subject of female founders, the Liberal Women made a lot of changes, which the party also went along with. Women spoke up at the party congress. And the reaction to the spell was very subdued.

The whole story is very reminiscent of the sayings and behavior of the former FDP parliamentary group leader Rainer Brüderle, who was in 2012 to Journalist Laura Himmelreich said, among other things should: “You can also fill in a dirndl.” Lindner is apparently aimed at an audience that appreciates jokes from old men.

Brüderle and Lindner cannot be compared, these situations cannot be compared. And the audience is not an old-school audience. I’ve been with the party for 20 years and the delegates have changed. This is a saying from the past that has no echo in the party. Both in men and women.

Why are the situations not comparable?

Neither is excusable. But Rainer Brüderle obviously made a physical allusion. That is much more extensive.

Isn’t it time for a change at the top of the FDP?

Because of a saying? I think that’s completely excessive. If so, then the party must reform itself from within. We have founded a new network to bring women forward in the party, not only at the top, but also across the board, in the federal states and in the municipalities. Christian Lindner welcomes this initiative. And we women in the FDP don’t want to be given anything, we want to take it from us. We will continue on this path.

But what someone jokes about says something about a person. It’s also about image. Do you want to go into a difficult election campaign with this boss?

That wasn’t good for the image, everyone agrees on that. Last year we had a party conference on liberal feminism. Lindner has always supported us. He has not disqualified himself because of a spell. Lindner will be annoyed about it too. Except for the saying, he also gave a good speech. As an FDP woman, I was very satisfied.


Deemed “sexist”, the title of the new encyclical dedicated to fraternity creates controversy

“All Brothers”, the quote from Saint Francis of Assisi, means that the text is accused by some of excluding women.

This encyclical was matured by Francis (here September 2 in the Vatican) over months of confinement as St. Peter's Basilica and its plaza were closed, all of the pope's public hearings and his trips canceled.
This encyclical was matured by Francis (here September 2 in the Vatican) over months of confinement as St. Peter’s Basilica and its plaza were closed, all of the pope’s public hearings and his trips canceled. VINCENZO PINTO / AFP

Will the Pope have to write his next encyclicals in inclusive language? This writing which foresees the masculine and the feminine everywhere so as not to exclude women? The next, and third, encyclical of the pontificate of Francis dedicated to “fraternity”, which will appear on October 4, has indeed sparked a controversy in several countries, including the United States, for its title deemed too… sexist! In Italian, the reference language in the Vatican, the encyclical will be called “Tutti fratelli”, that is to say “all brothers”. It is true that in English, brother is strictly male. It does not have the same universal, male-female connotation that the word “brother” may have in French or Italian depending on its context.

Faced with the risk of disqualifying a text by its title alone even before its content is known, the Vatican had to put things right. Vatican Media Editorial Director Andrea Tornielli said on the official Vatican News website: “As this is a quote from

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Tour de France 2020: Sexism allegations after Alaphilippe cartoon

Sport In bed with Alaphilippe

Sexism allegations and two dismissals after tour cartoon

| Reading time: 2 minutes

These are the favorites: Buchmann, Roglic and Co. chase Egan Bernal

Defending champion Egan Bernal is the hottest candidate for overall victory in the Tour de France. The path to the yellow jersey will be anything but a walk for the young Colombian on an immensely difficult tour of France. Many competitors are scraping his throne.

Bike star Julian Alaphilippe rides in the Tour de France. His girlfriend reports for French television. A cartoonist works his way through the subject and loses his job. Is that satire? Or sexism?

Cyef editor Sebastian Crepel was forced to apologize, cartoonist Espe was thrown out. So did columnist Antoine Vayer, who defended the drawing. A picture excites more than a thousand words.

The “L’Humanité”, a French daily newspaper, had published a cartoon on Sunday in which professional cyclist Julian Alaphilippe was sitting in bed lascivious and drooling with a blanket pulled up and in a central place, his tongue hanging down. On the edge next to him: his girlfriend Marion Rousse, reporter for France TV.

Julian Alaphilippe with girlfriend Marion Rousse

Source: pa / Augenklick / Ro / ROTH / AUGENKLICK

The 29-year-old, herself a former professional driver, is shown in suspenders. Apart from two fringed pasties on her nipples, she is otherwise naked. The only thing she’s wearing is a microphone. The artist put a question in her mouth: “Julian, could you answer the questions from France TV?”

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Espe wanted to point out the lack of critical distance between the reporter and the driver in the Tour de France. The couple is currently on the big loop, and at least Rousse doesn’t know how to joke. Your accusation: sexism.

Tour de France

Marriage proposal on the route: Marion Rousse is also popular with the fans


On Twitter, she wrote: “I’m totally sobered. The ‘Humanité’ is dragging its name more and more into the mud. Only without the slightest respect for women can six years of sports coverage on TV be reduced to such a level. “

Mouratoglou jumps aside Rousse

She quickly received support on social networks. Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of tennis player Serena Williams, also spoke up. “This is deliberately degrading and unworthy of a newspaper that claims to be respectable. The company still has a long way to go. Still a lot of declining people, ”wrote the Frenchman.

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Germany, Bavaria, Chiemgau, racing biker on tour

The newspaper reacted promptly to the public pressure and took personal consequences. “We fully share the outrage over this drawing. We quickly reversed the publication. It contradicts the values ​​of ‘L’Humanité’, which focus on human dignity and the feminist struggle. We would like to apologize to Marion Rousse for the lack of respect, ”said a message signed by Crepel.

Until a few years ago, Rousse was married to the French professional cyclist Tony Gallopin

Always these cyclists: until a few years ago, Rousse was with Tony Gallopin

Source: pa / dpa / David Stockman

Cartoonist Espe can’t understand all the excitement. “It was absolutely not my goal to injure. I wasn’t thinking anything bad about it, it’s just a cartoon. I just wanted to work out the permeability between the media and sport. “

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Alaphilippe, who temporarily wore the yellow jersey of the leader in the overall standings at the Tour de France during the first week, has not yet commented on the incident.


Miley Cyrus accuses MTV VMA’s of sexism

Last Sunday, August 30, the MTV Video Music Awards, leaving memorable moments in the music entertainment industry: From the extravagant masks worn by Lady Gaga, The Weeknd and his presentation of the single “Blinding Lights” The Miley Cyrus with his presentation of the new theme “Midnight Sky”.

Still, the event has not been without controversy after Cyrus pointed out sexism at the event after a discussion in preparation for his participation this year.

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During a recent talk on “The Joe Rogan Experience“, the singer assures that she would have made some requests to the production such as that the lighting was directly on her during her interpretation. Cyrus He explained that this was not with the intention of making “diva demands”, he just wanted to make sure there was no additional light besides the main one.

“The ‘beauty lights’ are always used on women and I said turn off the damn lights. You would never tell Travis Scott The Adam Levine that the ‘beauty lights’ cannot be turned off.

The singer then comments that when one of her bracelets got stuck in her wardrobe, one of the producers of MTV I’d say, “Do you want to be treated like a guy? We wouldn’t be dealing with this if a guy did, ”to which Cyrus I’d reply “Well a guy couldn’t do this because he can’t sell your show with sex the way I will.”

Cyrus comments that perhaps she could have been seen as a “diva” by the requests, which she says would not have been the case in the case of a male artist. “But if you have here The Weeknd to say the same, or Kanye, is like a creative god. It’s like, come on, why am I not a creative genius, but become a bitch? ”

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“No one would say that about Kanye West choosing what type of lights you want for your presentation ”, he concludes. “Mother’s Daughter”, The singer’s 2019 single, would have received two awards during the VMA’s 2020 for “Best Editing” and “Best Art Direction”.


Surprise departure of Ruth Mackenzie, artistic director of the Théâtre du Châtelet

After a season at the head of the Théâtre du Châtelet, Ruth Mackenzie is stepping down as artistic director. This surprise departure was laconically announced by the Parisian institution, without specifying the reasons, in an email sent to a group of journalists. According to AFP, citing an anonymous source, “There was a managerial problem with the staff and a financial (problem) linked to an insufficient artistic season. There was an audit carried out by an independent firm which led to the departure ” de Ruth Mackenzie. “These are multifaceted problems: there was an overall difficulty in his work from the start. The tip of the iceberg is the accusations leveled at her by her team. ” Which lodged a complaint with the social and economic committee (CSE) of the institution, which mobilized the board of directors. “The audit showed serious managerial deficits; there was suffering at work because of the pressure exerted on the employees and above all a lack of recognition of their work. ” The cultural assistant of the mayor of Paris, tutelage of the theater, as well as the Châtelet did not deign to answer our questions or clarify these financial losses in a Covidian moment complicated for all the theaters, nor this mysterious audit supposedly decisive.

“I found it brutal”

We were, however, able to speak with Ruth Mackenzie on the phone. Shocked, the Briton does not really understand what is being criticized for her. “I received a letter of dismissal on Thursday, telling me to leave immediately, to leave my office, my phone… In twenty years, I had never seen that. I found it brutal. It’s absolutely shocking, I am not at all a criminal, I am the artistic director of a theater! ”

For her, the reasons for her eviction remain unclear: “During confinement, two marketing staff complained that my management style was too harsh. An investigation was then entrusted to an expert in human resources. In her 56-page report, she did not find anything objectionable about me. No evidence of brutality, no form of harassment. I have a lot of experience, in the places where I have been I have proposed a daring, committed vision. This was the case at the Châtelet, which we wanted to transform into the theater of Greater Paris, and the work I was asking for, the search for new audiences for a more activist theater… it is difficult. Change is difficult. The collaborators may have experienced a form of hostility. There is a disproportion between what I am objectively criticized, such as not speaking French well, and my dismissal. ”

“Forms of sexism”

The former artistic director of Châtelet, a figure in the world of international festivals (Holland Festival, Chichester, Manchester), former director of the Scottish Opera and formerly at the head of the cultural program of the London 2012 Olympics, does not intend to stop there: “I am the first woman, and foreigner, to run this theater. This is not the first time that I have noticed forms of sexism or xenophobia. I have testimonials from my last six engagements in places or in festivals where there was no problem, on the contrary. If every time employees have difficult relations with their manager, they have to be fired… I am certainly not going to let my life and my career be destroyed. I spoke with the director of the board this Thursday. And I asked my lawyer to act accordingly. ”

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Succeeding Jean-Luc Choplin, Ruth Mackenzie was appointed in 2017, in tandem with Thomas Lauriot dit Prévost. The duo of directors had to wait until the end of the theater works to present their first season, in 2019, a season they wanted to be participatory and committed, but which turned out to be marked by several controversies: the total occupation of the premises by the russian show GIVE, the unexpected creation of a perfume (Odeur du théâtre du Châtelet, act I) or the originality of electro nights (Joséphine club) on the floors of the theater which damaged the ceilings of the great hall. The program, in half-tone, where one could find an oratorio of Handel staged by Barrie Kosky or Camus in the sauce Abd al-Malik, was truncated by the confinement and could not go until its term. Thomas Lauriot said Prévost will now be the sole manager of the Parisian establishment.

Guillaume Tion