We are currently in the third wave of feminism. In the first wave, groups and associations fought for women’s suffrage. The second wave stood for new freedoms and equal rights laws. Today, in the third wave, it is about living conditions and the fight against sexual violence.
The first phase of feminism started in the 18th century, strongly influenced by the goal of equality for all people. Louise Otto-Peters (1819-1895) is considered the founder of the first wave with her publicly formulated demand: “The participation of women in the interests of the state is not a right but a duty”. Together with Auguste Schmidt, she founded the “Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein” (ADF) in 1865. Here they fought for the right to a free choice of gainful employment and equal pay. Women* in the labor movement also stood for an improvement in the wage situation, labor and maternity protection, and a reduction in working hours. During this wave, women’s right to vote and stand for election was achieved on 12 November 1918, as well as the dismantling of gender guardianship.
The 1960s saw the second wave, which was mainly influenced by the student movement. Despite the different political directions of the women*, they fought for the same goals: The right to self-determination, an active voice in politics, and the abolition of §218 (abortion). At that time, the new marriage law was achieved in 1977, which abolished the obligation of the woman* to run the household, also called housewife marriage. In the same year, the divorce law was reformed with the abolition of the principle of guilt. This meant that a marriage could only be divorced in exceptional cases if one spouse was at fault. The law on “equal rights for women and men in the workplace” was passed three years later. The first women’s theatre groups, bands, and cabarets were also founded, as well as women’s publishing houses with a feminist program.
As the different groups of the movement merged into their own associations in the 1980s to fight for their respective causes, public protests became less and less, causing the movement to disappear from media interest.
Some scholars doubt a third wave of feminism. However, other voices, including us, continue to see the women’s movement in Germany. The feminist discussion is conducted in academic discourse, there is a high number of women-specific literature and many actions and events that stand for the movement. There are also many online protests, such as the use of #MeToo in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, which aims to draw attention to the extent of sexual harassment and violence.
Even though this wave in Germany may not be happening on the streets as much as it did in the previous ones, the women’s* movement definitely persists, because equality for all genders is still far from being achieved. To celebrate women* as works of art, we have put our new collection of notebooks under the motto “Female Empowerment” – feel free to take a look.