#Aufschrei: The hashtag exploding on the Twittersphere exposing sexism in Germany



Although traditionally trailing behind European counterparts on social media, a recent hashtag has ignited the German Twittersphere – taking its content to national media, talk shows and generating thousands of comments per day.  In the last couple of days, #aufschrei (outcry) has evolved into a loaded hashtag igniting a massive online debate about attitudes towards women in Germany.

According to data collected by Soviet.tv, #aufschrei has received 58,000 tweets during the four-day period from 25 January to 28 January, with a tweet-frequency average of 10.1 tweets per minute.

The initial debate began as a Twitter conversation between Anne Wizorek (@marthadear) and Nicole Horst (@vonhorst) about an article in the news about a journalist at German weekly magazine Stern reporting that a senior politician made inappropriate advances toward her at a political gathering in 2012.

The tech community adds to the discussion

Wizorek, a Berlin-based digital communications consultant, has encouraged people on the internet to voice their experiences with everyday sexism and sexual harassment under the #aufschrei hashtag to raise awareness on the topics. Several figures in the tech scene have also chimed into the conversation…

Caroline Drucker (@bougie), Country Manager at Etsy Germany:

Caroline Drucker #aufschrei

Andreas Klinger (@andreasklinger), co-founder of LOOKK and Die Socialisten:

Andreas Klinger #aufschrei

Nicole Simon (@nicolesimon), a digital consultant in Berlin:

Nicole Simon #aufschrei

Why the debate is resonating in the Twittersphere

There has been an incredible wave of responses from both women and men with thousands of posts documenting experiences with sexism on the streets, in social situations and at the workplace.

Drucker, who has openly spoken about “How to get more women in tech” and gender equality, said that the Twitter movement has sparked an important debate and demonstrates how widespread sexism is.

“#Aufschrei can hopefully make individuals understand that sexism is still rife in Germany. Perhaps it will allow some to contemplate their position of privilege. I hope it will allow many to come to the understanding that just because they have not experienced sexism or violence against women doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” said Drucker in a statement to VentureVillage.

“Women earn 23.4 per cent less than men in Germany.  Two out of every five women in Germany have experienced physical or sexual abuse. We don’t talk about it, but it happens. Even worse, we shame victims from talking about it and receiving the help they need,” she added.

“This is a problem. This is not OK”

#Aufschrei has provided an opportunity for people to recount their experiences and openly address the issue of sexism – but is it enough? Can the Twitter campaign act as catalyst to create social change? Or is it merely, as one commentator put it, a “toothless tiger“?

While there is no easy or clear-cut solution, Nicole Simon said that for now it’s important to inform yourself, take a look at the #aufschrei posts and accept that these experiences are real.

“This is not about world peace or hunger. This is about women in the so-called evolved Western society telling you, ‘This is what I feel. This is what I experience everyday. And I’m adding #aufschrei to it because this IS a problem. This is NOT OK.'” said Simon.

What are your thoughts on #aufschrei? Why do you think the topic has resonated with the Twittersphere? Do you have any experiences to share? We would love to hear your stories and comments below…

For related posts, check out:

Opinion: whatever happened on the Tube, the real shock in the Glaenzer case was the responses from the “modern” tech community
A matter of age: Is the startup scene only for baby-faced founders?
Social Media Week – moving the debate beyond just “women in tech”

Image credit: flickr user YiyingLu