Sonntag, 29. Juni 2008

The Avant-Garde´s Avant-Garde: Hedwig Dohm

In: Feminist Europa. A Review of Books
Vol. 7, No 1, 2007. Vol. 8, No 1, 2008.

Von Rolf Löchel, übersetzt von Tobe Levin

From time to time an earlier generation births a visionary, and even while thinking they follow in her footsteps, those born later fall behind their ancestor. One of Germany´s pioneering feminists, Hedwig Dohm, enjoys this type of posthumous acknowledgement, in particular when her views on prostitution are compared with those of feminists today who insist it is a profession like any other and try to enlist clients in the struggle against the coerced sale of sex. It may be unintentional, but in nearly all media and many minds, the approach succeeds in strengthening a preexisting sexist image of women while also vitiating arguments opposing pornography and sexist advertising. Because the sex market is demand-driven, advocates for normalizing the industry may manage to oppose forced prostitution subjectively, but objectively they contribute to it as their trivialization of its harm lures increasing numbers of young women and girls naive enough to swallow the proffered false pormises and lies should they have been lucky enough to evade equally prevalent brutal threaths and drugs. In sum, what proponents really promote is an understanding among men that buying sex is normal. The logical result is an increase in demand which leads to an increase in force.
Dohm disagrees with organized whores who claim prostitution is sacrosanct and counter all criticism by claiming discrimination. Dohm, not blind to the fact that women can collude in destroying their own honor, called prostitution a "disgusting caricature of the erotic" that represented one of "the darkest moments in human history", a "mark of Cain distorting the face of the earth, so repellent that its Medusa´s gaze makes the heart shudder." Why? Because men saw in the prostitute all women at the "lowest level" of existence.
The quotes come from a volume of texts by Dohm recently edited by Nikola Müller and Isabel Rohner which no self-respecting feminist library or otherwise interested reader should be without. Celebrating the 175th anniversary on 20 September 2006 of Dohm´s birth with essays, serials, novellas, aphorisms and letters, the book reveals the skillful hand of two conscientious editors who did meticulous research.
Therefore, announcement of Müller and Rohner´s plans for a comprehensive edition of Dohm´s work is welcome. In 2007, Sibilla Dalmar and Schicksale einer Seele are scheduled to appear as the first two of 15 volumes. this is indeed an amitious project and certainly the best present on the anniversary of her birth for a woman called the "pioneer activist and thinker of a new image of women", as noted in a 1914 volume dedicated to Dohm. It is also a gift to readers as the "selected texts" make you hungry for more.

Keine Kommentare: