Can a man voice his opinion on the #MeToo movement? How if he could never have experienced the specific sexism that women face daily? And can a person, ethnically belonging to a majority, use cultural items of a minority? Would this not mock the decades of forced assimilationist policies and degradation of this minority culture put forward by majority-groups?
Those seem to be non-connected issues, but they follow the same logic: An aspect that you cannot control - the belonging to a certain group you were born into - decides what you can and cannot do, where you can voice an opinion and where you should better only nod and follow. A trend that is killing debate culture.
It comes from a good place – debates on feminism or minority rights should be led by the very people that are being victimized. Only then can a debate or movement unfold its full empowering potential. Taking the example of ethnic and religious minorities, the debates around migrants in Germany are held first and foremost by Germans who did not migrate anywhere in the last decades, who never experienced life in those communities and who lack a very basic, intuitive feeling of the very culture they form opinions on, debate about, problematize (mainly the right) OR glorify (mainly the left). It feels like a bad joke.
A debate cannot be insightful without the very people it concerns the most. However, every debate benefits from a diversity of viewpoints. Only because men will most of the time not have an authentic experience on the types of marginalization women face (and vice-versa!), I would assume that a chunk of them have enough empathy to get feminist issues to an extent that might qualify them to voice an opinion.
It should be a no-brainer: No movement and no opinion- whether it comes from a place of marginalization or not - is sacrosanct. Debates who remain in the echo chamber of the members of those marginalized groups are seldom insightful either. They run the risk of fortifying certain opinions to a dogma, fostering a world view that judges people first and foremost on their most apparent demographical characteristic. It is a form of modern tribalization being fodder for political polarization and a lowering quality of our debates in general. And the worst: In this polarized environment, it doesn’t add anything to the empowerment of any individual.
Asena Baykal, bachelor student European Studies