How did the feminist movement come about?

Women's movement

The gentleman in the house

In 1949, the Social Democratic MP Elisabeth Selbert pushed through that equality was included in the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany. Article 3 thus reads: "Men and women have equal rights".

The reality, however, was different in the 1950s and 1960s. An illegitimate child was a social catastrophe for the woman, and many mothers then did not even receive custody. Marriage and family law determined the man to be the sole ruler over women and children.

A wife had to be sexually available to her husband at all times. If he abused her or the children, it was considered a private matter. According to the law, married women were only allowed to work if their work was "compatible with their duties in marriage and family".

The so-called "low wage groups" still existed in the 1970s. And even if a woman did the same work as a man, she often received significantly less money for it.

Burning bras

The so-called first wave of the women's movement emerged in the USA in the middle of the 19th century and at that time fought for women's suffrage, among other things. The second wave began in the 1960s - in many places at the same time.

In the USA Betty Friedan wrote her bestseller "The Feminine Delusion" in 1963, in which she settled with the typical female role. In France, Simone de Beauvoir wrote "The Other Sex" as early as 1949, which countless women around the world made their Bible.

The philosopher and writer explained in this book: "You are not born a woman, you are made into it". And by that meant: women are not naturally submissive, dependent and helpless. They are only raised to do this from an early age. But you can also do it differently. That gave the young women courage in the late 1960s.

Soon women declared publicly: "We now decide for ourselves how we want to live, love and look!" In the United States, women activists publicly burned their brassiere (bras). In Amsterdam the "Dollen Minnas" pinched the men's butts. And in Rome women sang at a demonstration: "Tremate, tremate, le streghe son tornate!" ("Shiver, shiver, the witches have returned!").

Flying tomatoes

The female students who were active in the "Socialist German Student Union" (SDS) established that the Marxist theory that they devoured so enthusiastically came almost exclusively from men - and women did not appear in it. They were annoyed that their comrades wanted to free all the peoples of the earth, but not their own companions. Because the revolutionaries of 1968 also wanted women to do their laundry, type the leaflets and look as attractive as possible.

In September 1968 the Federal SDS Congress met in Frankfurt. And once again the comrades refused to hear what the women had to say. The Berlin delegate Sigrid RĂ¼ger took three tomatoes out of her pocket and threw them towards the podium. Two of them met - and slapped one of the "top comrades" in the face.

"My belly is mine"

In the early 1970s, women's groups and women's centers were set up from Kiel to Konstanz. They all took up the fight against paragraph 218, the abortion paragraph. Abortion was forbidden at the time, it had to be done in secret, it was expensive, humiliating and sometimes life-threatening.

Men made decisions about whether or not a woman should have a child. But the women's movement said: Neither judges nor doctors, let alone theologians, have the right to rule over a woman's body and life. And they demanded: Paragraph 218 must be deleted without replacement.

In 1974, a new regulation of Paragraph 218 came into force based on the indication model, which allowed termination of pregnancy for certain medical, social or ethical reasons. The time limit solution has been in effect since 1995, which allows termination in the first three months of pregnancy if counseling has taken place beforehand.

Itself is the woman

It wasn't far from dealing with abortion and pregnancy to dealing with the topics of marriage, motherhood and sexuality. The women found that they knew little about their own bodies.

They asked themselves: "How do we treat ourselves and what do we do to ourselves? What is beauty? What are our own needs, and when do we only meet those of men?"

And the new women's movement was not limited to talking and demanding. She also took action herself. When the feminists found out how many women were being abused by their husbands, they created "houses for beaten women", or "women's shelters" for short. They set up emergency numbers to help rape victims.

And they made sure that the sexual abuse of girls (and boys) was no longer tacitly accepted. They set up publishers, bookstores, newspapers, archives, and health centers. They organized exhibitions, concerts, film festivals. Many of these projects and initiatives still exist today.

The successes

The new women's movement has achieved a lot. Women are more self-confident and have better job opportunities than they were 50 years ago. They are legally equal to men in all areas. An illegitimate child is no longer a shame. Divorce no longer plunges women into poverty.

Husbands who beat their wives and children have to leave the home if the wife wants to. Marital rape is no longer legal. In children's books (and in real life), girls are often brave, smart, and pretty naughty. There are pastors and museum directors, pilots and chief physicians, carpenters and web designers.