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

The rapper – also known as "Quing of Berlin" – is a member of the activist group Ausnahmslos. Comprised of feminists from many 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 to tweet about women's experiences of everyday sexism. 

The second was #schauhin (#LookAt), whose purpose was to combat everyday racism. I got together with the campaigners over Skype to express our reactions to the New Year’s Eve assaults in Cologne. We wanted to take action to intervene, without constraints… and so the #NoExcuses iniatative was born! 

[The Anti-feminist and author of the book Gender GagaBirgit Keller was furious, claiming that we were protecting the perpetrators by remaining silent [following the Cologne attacks]. However, we have strong views about this. We do not act impulsively; we take our time to consider our options before taking action. 

In this debate, 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 homogenise 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 the topic of how women are portrayed – what's your view on this?

Sookie: Anything that has been simplified is problematic. Enforcing the dominant culture on refugees doesn’t achieve anything. Teaching German values to refugees has nothing to do with integration. On the contrary: people who come here have very different stories, heritage and experiences. Limiting them to one culture, by focusing on teaching German values whilst suppressing their own culture, is simply discriminatory. It is what one calls "New Racism"; this propensity to deny such problems exist here, is pure insolence. Not least because those affected by sexual violence and everyday sexism are ignored.

cafébabel: Here's an example... a young woman supports refugees by giving German lessons in refugee camps. At one point, a refugee wishes to get closer to her physically. His feelings aren't reciprocated, but also she doesn't want to hurt him. He has no one over here and has had a very difficult past. What's your advice?

Sookie: That is a sensitive topic, but also one which is worth considering. Here, you have a troubled person and for that reason, it wouldn’t really be right to put up barriers. Then again, having self-respect entails 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 the refugee truly desires: does he just want to sit down for some tea and a chat, or would he rather spuriously put his hand on my thigh? Naturally, different situations demand different responses. In any case, one needs to be able to differentiate and not label them as a potential criminal, simply because that is how they have been portrayed by 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. About intersectionality and the interconnection of the different "isms". Nevertheless, I find it unbelievably difficult to concisely articulate my thoughts through my lyrics. Writing words through which I can express myself – which are technically impressive, have a good flow and rhyme density, using figurative language and literary devices – is tricky. However, if the political discourse on immigration shifts towards the welcoming refugees, I would perhaps write more songs. 

cafébabel: What do you mean by that? 

Well, I have been repeatedly criticised for writing lyrics which wouldn’t seem out of place in a sociological study: dense, arduous, too theoretical. I understand perfectly why I'm accused of this, but I cannot fathom why we can't mix politics and entertainment. I would like to be understood and at the same time, not have to deviate from my point of view. 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. One should take a look at Great Britain: there, there are many more rappers than there are in Germany. In general they have more platforms, radioshows, tours, greater media prescence. And in the USA there are more queer voices. At home there is still more that needs to be done.