"Leave your men at home": autonomy in the West German women's movement, 1968-1978




Erickson, Bailee Maru

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This thesis examines “autonomy” as a political goal of the West German women’s movement from its beginning in 1968 to 1978. As the central concept of the movement, autonomy was interpreted and applied in women’s groups and projects through a variety of organizational principles. The thesis takes case studies of different feminist projects. Successive chapters examine the Berlin Women’s Centre; Verena Stefan’s novel Shedding, the women’s press Frauenoffensive, and the women’s bookstore Labrys; and the periodicals Frauenzeitung, Courage, and Emma. These studies show that autonomously organized projects were characterized by the expression of an anti-hierarchical ethos. The Berlin Women’s Centre organized itself around collective decision making and self sustainability. Women’s writing and publishing projects established an alternative literary space. National feminist periodicals created journalistic spaces capable of coordinating the movement while subverting a dominant viewpoint. These examples illustrate how networks of autonomous projects established an autonomous cultural counter-sphere both separate and different from the established public sphere.



West Germany, Feminism, German Women's Movement, German Feminism, Abortion Rights, Berlin Women's Centre, Neue Frauenbewegung, German Women