Peter Bergman Does Man Bags Best

It is that time of every even year again (see here): The male citezenry of my lovely home town marches out to check the municipal border. It’s a good way to connect with once roots, meet some folks from the old days and think about what it means to be from somewhere. So here it goes.

As is customary, men here still insist on excluding all women from the occasion (with the the exceptions described in the previous post…). Whatever. What peeved me was a text titled Abolishing a Dubious Custom that was cited repeatedly this year describing a vote of the town council implementing an explicit ban of women. It dates back to 1932 and my favourite part roughly translates to this:

Provost Dr. Brockhoff expressed similar sentiments: “For years I have regretted the nonsense of female persons – especially those of dubious character – pushing to partake in the Schnadezug. Our good old customs suffer and our duty – inherited from our forefathers – is thus dragged into the mud. For several years I have avoided the sight of the crowds returning in the evening, reeling and hooting in crude exuberance. Any decent femal person, woman or maid, must think it impossible to show up at such a crude dispaly. But if the female element is absent, men will be more concious of their duty and won’t – in all their gayness – forget their manly ernestness to such a degree that they couldn’t be admonished to excercise self-restraint and temperance.”*

Boys, it’s totally okay to have male-only occasions. But If you are actually serious about stopping crowds from reeling and hooting in crude exuberance (which you are not – not in Germany) it’s not women that need to be banned, right? So please, please don’t justify a quaint folk custom using some text that was published just before the Nazis took over and that first and foremost reads like an argument for banning beer.

And if you are in the camp that thinks this custom is not at all quaint but constitutes a serious case of discrimination: I am willing to take bets that by the time I am to frail to take part in this custom, the men organinzing the event will be more than happy to lift the ban. Just take a close look at the ten-year-olds around you. For one thing, I don’t think the girls will put up with it. And that is all for the good, after all

Tradition is about passing on the flame, not worshipping the ashes.

  • Yeah – there are other words than gayness and temperance to translate the german “Fröhlichkeit” and “Mäßigkeit”.