Archiv für Sozialgeschichte
Band XLIII/ 2003 - Summaries

Gisela Notz,

The Autonomous Women's Movements of the Seventies. Origins, Organisation and Political Concepts

In the 1968 student movement, as well as the "Extra-Parliamentary-Opposition" (APO), the particular concerns arising out of the women's specific life situation (child care, juggling the demands of jobs and household work, discrimination in political work etc.) had played but a marginal role. The article reviews in detail the origin and early years of the West German Feminist movement 1968-1971. It emerged out of conflicts within the German Socialist Student Society, which reached their climax during one of the last delegate conventions in September 1968. Adopting the slogan "privacy is political", the newly-formed New Women's Movements consciously distanced themselves from the established, traditional politics of women's associations. They understood themselves as autonomous grass-roots movements, strictly rejecting hierarchies and patriarchal coercion. The author then concentrates on a second central concern of the New Women's Movement: The struggle against Paragraph 218 of the Criminal Code, through which abortion was declared illegal. Subsequently, a number of 1970s' grass-roots experiments are outlined (communal apartments, alternative kindergartens [Kinderläden], women's cafés and women's businesses, as well as protected housing for women who suffered from physical or sexual abuse). Through these projects, the New Women's Movements translated their causes (the struggle against: physical abuse, discrimination at work and at home, sexual repression, authoritarian education and the patriarchal family) into practical and political action. Thus, they constructed feminist counter-cultures. In a further chapter, the author describes how the feminist movement of the 1970s did the political groundwork for the active anti-discrimination policies, which were later adopted by all levels of government, as well as the EC/EU (communal women's offices, equal rights representatives, anti-discrimination legislation, introduction of gender studies at universities etc.). In conclusion, the links to the Gender Mainstreaming movement of the 1980s and 1990s are briefly outlined.


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