Monday, January 28, 2013

Dirndl-Gate

Rainer Brüderle pointing at Katja Suding
not wearing a Dirndl (Photo dpa)
Remember my blog about the color code for political parties in Germany? The yellow Free Democrats (Liberals) or rather their top candidate for the next federal election in fall Rainer Brüdele are presently enduring a negative press campaign and a shitstorm on Twitter. All this ado is about a sexist remark Rainer had made in a hotel bar one year ago to STERN-journalist Laura Himmelreich. Pointing at her décolleté he said: Sie könnten ein Dirndl auch ausfüllen (You too could fill in a dirndl [dress]).

Publishing the episode one year later, is this just crude electoral manipulation? It could be deadly for the Liberals scraping the five-percent hurdle, i.e., the number of votes necessary to sit in the next Bundestag (Germany's parliament or congress). Or is the publication nothing else than reporting about everyday sexism?

In vain Hamburg's leading Free Democrat Katja Suding tried to play down Rainer's faux pas: Überall, wo Menschen aufeinandertreffen, wird nun einmal auch geflirtet (Wherever people meet there will be philandering). The press however knows: Sex sells. Sexism sells even better in particular in connection with dirty old men.

Do we not have other worries in Germany? As my Norwegian boss always said: I shake my head.

Rainer Brüderle (67) and Laura Himmelreich (29) (Photo dpa)
Yesterday, on January 30, Rainer Brüderle invited to his routine meet-the-press breakfast. Here Laura and Rainer saw each other for the first time after one year of abstinence. Contrary to the few attendees normally listening to Rainer's boring political statements this time the interest was huge and many journalists fought for Schrippen and coffee.

Everybody was waiting for a statement about the dirndl-gate but Rainer instead talked about German debts and his party's coalition with Merkel's Christian Democrats. At the end he stated: Sexism is a current debate that has a political relevance. That there are debates in a democracy is an objective legitimate phenomenon. To me this sounds like phrase-mongering or pompous logorrhea.

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