Demo call 2022

Why the sofa is political

The personal is political – many feminist campaigners before us knew that. This statement encompasses so much: how household chores should be distributed, who should earn the money and who should stay at home with the children. What stereotypes should be broken or preserved. While many women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people are fighting for and winning more and more rights, many people’s private lives are still very heteronormative. 

Since the pandemic, we are forced to withdraw into the private sphere, where our environment is very limited: our own four walls, our own family, our partners. This has brought to light many social injustices that many people thought were problems of the past. Domestic violence is on the rise, self-isolation is not possible without a home and old roles are reappearing. 

Das Private ist nicht weniger politisch, wenn wir solidarisch auf dem Sofa sitThe private sphere is no less political if we stay inside on the sofa in solidarity and protect ourselves and others. So after two years of pandemic we see: the sofa is political! However, it must also be made clear that sofas are not the comfortable place to rest for everyone. While some people sit on it and relax, others have a lot of work to do to keep it clean and comfortable. Not all people can feel safe and secure on their sofa. Not everyone has a sofa, let alone a place to put it. Solidarity must be more than staying at home – especially now we must stand up for those who are too often overlooked and structurally disadvantaged by the capitalist system. 

Who cleans up around the sofa?

The pandemic has shifted the centre of many people’s lives home to the sofa. For some a place to relax, is for many women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people the place of invisible, unpaid work. And care work is irreplaceable for human coexistence.

The fact that this work is mainly done by women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people is no coincidence. Alleged „biological facts“ are often cited as to why they do this work particularly well and hardly need a wage for it: she likes to take care of things; it’s because of the maternal bond; or quite flatly: „She likes it tidier than I do and sees more of what needs to be done.“

These attributions prevent emancipation movements. Capitalism and patriarchy create conditions that make striking almost impossible. Especially when care work is tied into the heteronormative family: Young children and sick parents cannot be left to their own devices. A large number of women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people work in professions that are closely linked to care work. Exhausted colleagues and patients in the care sector also must not be left alone.

We see and name care work, we see and call out the exhaustion and exploitation. We stand in solidarity with striking colleagues and see those who are prevented from striking. We will sit on the sofa today, someone else can do the cooking.

Who is safe on and around the sofa?

Auf Händen getragen, mit Füßen getreten. Häusliche Gewalt beginnt damit, dass eine Person Stück für Stück die Kontrolle über die*den Partner*in übernimmt. Persönlicher Freiraum wird Loved and cherished, kicked and beaten. Domestic violence begins with one person taking control of their partner bit by bit. Personal space is restricted. Contact outside the relationship becomes less frequent, even leading to social isolation. There is Aabusive language and verbal humiliation if arbitrary rules are not followed. This is often followed by physical violence. This violence extends to murder – to femicide.

Often the victims blame themselves. Because perpetrators are good at blaming the victims for their outbursts of rage. But the perpetrator alone is responsible for his actions! 

Domestic violence concerns us all. Domestic violence is not a problem of a certain class, culture or origin. Those affected are mostly women and children. According to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, about every fourth woman is at least once a victim of physical or sexual violence by her current or former partner. Differentiated figures for women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people are not collected. Domestic violence often happens in secret. This provides protection for the perpetrator and further exposes the victims to their tormentors. We talk about the issue to shed light on it. It is the first step to take action against this violence.

Who has a sofa anyway?

In 2021, more people than ever were forced to leave their homes, nearly half of them being women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people. At the same time, the EU and Germany are stepping up their racist isolationist policies, making it almost impossible to enter Europe safely. And this after centuries of the west colonising countries, while continuously exploiting them and thus contributing significantly to current causes of flight.

Gender-specific causes of flight have not been considered as reasons for flight for a long time. Who is in need of protection and who is not is often defined from a cismale perspective.

On the run, women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people are exposed to sexualised violence, hunger and disease. Often they flee with children or elderly relatives and perform additional care work. In camps at the European borders, it is hardly possible for women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people with children to get access to support structures. And even after arriving in destination countries, they are often confronted with racism, unable to lock doors in collective accommodation or use their own sanitary facilities. 

The walls-up policy of Europe massively deteriorates the situation of women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans*, agender people seeking protection. We now need a policy that is not based on deterrence, but on borderless solidarity and prospects of staying. Make the fortress Europe fall, leave no one behind!