Sookee: Sexism stinks, #NoExcuses

Article published on Feb. 23, 2016
Article published on Feb. 23, 2016

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Rapper and "Quing of Berlin"  - Sookee is a member of the activist group Ausnahmslos. Comprised of feminists from differing social spheres, members have been campaigning against both sexual violence and racism since the New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne. #NoExcuses. Any time, any place. An Interview with Sookee.

cafébabel: Who came up with the #NoExcuses hashtag campaign?

Sookie: We essentially merged two existing projects. The first was the #outcry (#aufschrei) hashtag campaign, launched by a group of women three years ago. The hashtag – created by Anne Wizorek in 2013, was used by women to 'tweet' about their experiences of sexism in their everyday lives.

The second was #schauhin (#LookAt), which attempted to combat everyday racism. I got together with other campaigners over Skype to exchange opinions on the New Year’s Eve assaults in Cologne. We wanted to take action, to intervene without constraint… and so the #NoExcuses initiative was born! 

[Anti-feminist and author of the book Gender GagaBirgit Keller was furious, claiming that we were protecting the perpetrators by keeping shtum [following the Cologne attacks]. However, we have our reasons for doing so. We do not like to act impulsively; we like to take our time to consider our options before taking action. 

It's not a matter of playing one person off against the other. But that is the way that it was portrayed in the media: through attempts to homogenize the perpetrators, (insinuating that all the perpetrators were migrants). What really made us angry was the fact that these people previously had nothing to contribute to the sexism debate, but suddenly they considered themselves an authority on the subject.

Sookee - "Mensch"/ Msoke "Burn Me"

cafébabel: Sociologist Necla Kelek hopes to "educate" refugees on women's image – what's your view on this?

Sookie: Oversimplifying things can be problematic and enforcing the dominant culture on refugees doesn’t achieve anything. The teaching of German values isn't required for successful integration. On the contrary: people who move here have very different stories, heritage and experiences. It is simply discriminatory to push one culture on them while forcing them to suppress their own culture. It is what we call "New Racism"; denying that such problems exist, is pure insolence. Not least because those affected by sexual violence and everyday sexism are ignored.

cafébabel: Here's an example... a young woman is teaching German in a refugee camp. After a while, a refugee starts to take an interest in her. His feelings aren't reciprocated, but also she doesn't want to hurt him. He is completely alone and has had a very difficult past. What's your advice?

Sookie: That is a sensitive topic, but also one which is worth looking at. Here is a troubled and vulnerable person, so it wouldn’t be fair to put up barriers. Then again, having self-respect is about setting clear boundaries and having a willingness to say "no, thank you". Respect does not involve the belittling of the other person. Of course, it depends on what he truly desires: does he just want to sit down for some tea and a chat, or would he rather feel me up? Different situations demand different responses. In any case, it is important to be able to differentiate between who the true criminals and the 'potential' ones - based on how they've been portrayed in the media.cafébabel: Does current debate encourage you to use your voice and your music to address these issues?

Sookie: It's nothing new to me. I have already written many songs on the topic. Mostly about intersectionality and the interconnection of the different "isms". Nevertheless, I find it unbelievably difficult to concisely articulate my thoughts through my lyrics. Words through which I can express myself – writing that is technically impressive, has a good flow, uses figurative language and literary devices – is tricky. However, if the political discourse on immigration shifts, giving rise to a more positive attitude towards refugees, I would perhaps write more songs. 

cafébabel: What do you mean by that? 

Well, I have been repeatedly criticized for writing lyrics that wouldn’t seem out of place in a sociology textbook: dense, arduous, too theoretical. I understand why I'm accused of this, but I don't think that it's at all right that we can't mix politics and entertainment. I would like to be understood and at the same time, not be forced to withhold my opinions. If open debate enabled us to be more receptive to this, it would be a step in the right direction.

cafébabel: And compared to other countries? Is Germany lagging behind?

I believe so, yes. In Germany, there are only a couple of rappers who deal with socio-political themes: the Antilopen Gang, KIZ, Zugezogen Maskulin. There is also Zeckenrap, which can best be described as half-rap, half-punk music. However, we are far from having explored all the possibilities. We should look to Great Britain for inspiration: there are more rappers there than in Germany. In general, they have more platforms, radio shows, tours and a greater media presence. And in the USA, there are more queer voices. At home, there is still more that needs to be done.