• Germany's news in English
 

The Fatherland's feminist Alice Schwarzer turns 70

Published: 03 Dec 2012 13:13 GMT+01:00

Often reduced by critics to her sharp tongue and combative manner, Schwarzer has in recent years become a controversial figure even among feminists, many of whom say her approach has become outdated.

But in her autobiography published last year Schwarzer described herself as a knowledge-hungry woman who loves life, likes to celebrate and has many friends.

She started campaigning for women's rights in France in the early 1970s before returning to her native Germany. In 1975 she published her first book, The Small Difference, which propelled her to the front of the country's fledgling feminist movement.

Quotes such as this from that book: "The penis – in its flaccid condition, experts assure us, it's eight to nine centimetres; rigid it is six to eight centimetres more. And being a man is contained in this little tip?" were used by detractors to portray her as a man-hating feminist troublemaker.

Two years later she set up the magazine Emma, which led campaigns on subjects such as female genital mutilation and sexual abuse, as well as calling for gay marriage rights and paternity leave as early a the 1980s. It continues to be considered the leading German feminist magazine.

She often takes part in political talk shows, and has become a "media personality" in many respects. She was awarded the government's Order of Merit medal in 2005, cementing her position as one of Germany's leading societal figures.

Although her contribution is generally recognized as significant for women's rights in Germany, she is not universally liked or respected – and has attracted the ire of other feminists for what some criticize as her old-fashioned and inflexible attitudes.

Bascha Mika, former editor of the left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung has been publicly critical, while historian Miriam Gebhardt wrote a book about her called "Alice in No-mans-land", which described her as inflexible and a matriarch who was constantly promoting herself.

She was also accused of selling out last year for writing in the sensationalist Bild newspaper, which then still carried photos of topless women on its front page – something she had previously attacked for being misogynist. She wrote commentary on the rape trial of a famous weatherman for the paper, saying that she was writing on behalf of his victim – although he was acquitted for lack of evidence.

In interviews this week she said she would continue to fight against prostitution and pornography. She said she wanted to make it embarrassing for men, "to buy the body and soul of a woman for a few notes."

Regarding pornography, she said it was, "not about naked skin or eroticism, rather about the linking of sexual desire with the desire to humiliate, and violence."

In a birthday blog entry, Schwarzer quoted from an interview she conducted in 1978 with Simone de Beauvoir, when the French intellectual and feminist said, "Women cannot fall so far [as men when they age] because they were never on top. But the men who consider themselves important, they believe they had power and responsibility – and often do have that. When they age it is terrible. That is a real break."

Schwarzer also said how she planned to celebrate her 70th birthday: "We will dance until at least two or three in the morning. Rock 'n' Roll, what else? Because as far as I am concerned, honestly – I feel ageless. But – how do I tell the others?"

The Local/DPA/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:48 December 3, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:52 December 4, 2012 by marimay
Feminism gave way to the two income household being necessary to survive. Banks supported the women's movement because it meant more bank accounts for them. Thanks a lot lady, I can no longer do or expect to be able to do, womanly things without being looked down upon by unhappy career mongers wondering why they don't feel fulfilled despite all of your feminist "gains".

Unnatural is unnatural as is most aspects of life. Wake up.
11:38 December 4, 2012 by sourgrapes
Rather than just keep blaming men for victimising women, why not start looking at why modern parenting still produces misogynist boy children who objectify women. What kind of parenting or mothering produces men who hate women, or don't consider us proper human beings?
16:34 December 7, 2012 by Gretl
marimay - I do not feel unfilled working with my mind rather than staying at home and cleaning house. It takes a certain personality to be fulfilled being housecleaner, cook, and raising children. I cannot imagine anything less fulfilling. I have three girls but I would have done them a disservice staying home with them and resenting them for chaining me to the house and mindless babble. I hired people more patient than I, skilled in fingerpainting and early education so I could be happy to see them at the end of the day. Why is there a different standard for men than there is for women?
16:40 December 7, 2012 by funke
At Sourgrapes the fact is that Men are to be blamed if one is to take it along the lines of the bible and the fall in the Garden of Eden. Was not Adam responsible for Eve that came out of him? If he had been watching his post he would not have let satan deceive her into taking and eating the fruit. Anyway for Adam the consequences was that he had to slog hard to make a living true. before that he had everything handed unto him on a plate! and for Eve she was made subservient to Adam when she had been equal to him in everysense and also now she was dependent on his penis ( her desire would be over him!)

GOOD NEWS is though Jesus broke all of that Curse for both Adam and Eve, for Eve He abolished Genderism whether you take it to the extreem or you just allow women to walk as equa l to man HE did it.
04:07 December 8, 2012 by Johannantoinette
I agree with marimay! It is a lot harder to be female these days. My own mother looks down upon me for wearing skirts and making food from scratch to my husband and children! She doesn't understand how I can be filled being a german Hausfrau when she was always so unfilled being a finnish one. Yes, she had no choice but I have and why must I look down upon for that? Let you working women be fulfilled working but should society punish the rest of us for it by expecting us to do the same?

There is a different standard for men because they have different standards. They work and bring home their catch and be adored by their children and wives. That is really what most men desire. What the remaining men desire is their business but what is natural is what is society's business. What majority desires is the most important order of the day. That's how it goes and why is that bad?

Most men are lost and unfulfilled today as they do not know how to build a home and use tools or hunt like their forefathers did. And this is not teached as it would be unfair for the female students?
02:32 December 9, 2012 by www.emungus.net
YING-YANG SOUNDLESS WAR STILL ON

" The penis ... rigid it is six to eight centimeters more. And being a man is contained in this little tip? " Ma'm is straightforward -- and she's right by the way. However, with such rhetoric we¦#39;re definitely raising more conflicts between men and women than solving some...That soundless and noiseless, almost undercover-war between women and men seems to be endless. We can carry on sing love and harmony instead. Why not being comfortable in our respective nature? Well… anyway, only a woman can make me happy !
Today's headlines
Lufthansa promises long-term crash help
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr (r) and Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann near the crash site on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa promises long-term crash help

On a visit to the Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash site in France, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said that the company will do its utmost to help relatives of victims and local people near the crash site. READ  

Draft fracking law meets strong opposition
An anti-fracking demonstration in front of the Chancellery on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Draft fracking law meets strong opposition

The cabinet agreed upon a draft law on “fracking” on Wednesday which will allow testing under stringent rules. But it is unclear whether the law will pass through the Bundestag (German parliament). READ  

Germany's best April Fools' jokes
It's that time of the year again...

Germany's best April Fools' jokes

While it might not be as prevalent as in English-speaking countries, there is still a rich tradition of “Aprilscherze” in Germany. Take a look inside for some of the best of 2015. READ  

April Fools' Day
April Fool! The Local's day in gags
In our April Fool's joke we reinstated the German monarchy. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

April Fool! The Local's day in gags

No, you weren’t going crazy when you scrolled through The Local this morning. Today, our network temporarily lost its marbles for April Fools' Day. So, as the clock strikes 12pm, it’s time for The Local to fess up and reveal which of our stories were red herrings. READ  

'Cannibal cop' gets 8-year sentence
Defendant Detlev Günzel at the court in Dresden on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

'Cannibal cop' gets 8-year sentence

A court sentenced a German former police officer to eight years and six months in jail Wednesday for killing a willing victim he met on a website for cannibalism fetishists. READ  

Strong economy shrinks debt as share of GDP
Workers in a Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. Photo: DPA

Strong economy shrinks debt as share of GDP

Germany's total debt increased slightly in 2014, but because the economy grew, its proportion of overall output fell, the Bundesbank (central bank) said on Wednesday. READ  

Seven lives claimed by Storm Niklas
Photo: DPA

Seven lives claimed by Storm Niklas

Germany woke up on Wednesday morning to the chaos which hurricane-strength winds brought to the country for much of Tuesday, killing seven people and causing major damage to travel infrastructure. READ  

April Fool's Day
Kaiser to rule again from Berlin
The Berliner Stadtschloss (city palace) in 1904. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Kaiser to rule again from Berlin

In a shock decision, the German government announced on Wednesday that it had asked civil servants to re-draft the constitution to restore the monarchy. READ  

Post, Amazon face Easter strikes
Photo: DPA

Post, Amazon face Easter strikes

The trade union Verdi has announced strikes for Wednesday at the Deutsche Post (German Post) and Amazon, meaning that Easter cards and packages might not arrive on time. READ  

Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project
The burnt ruins of the art project. Photo: DPA

Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project

An art installation dedicated to refugees was burnt down in Berlin early on Tuesday, with police suspecting it to be an arson attack. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,999
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd