• 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has in recent years become a controversial figure even among feminists, many of whom say her approach has become outdated.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
Greece crisis
Merkel to meet Tsipras at Tuesday summit
Over 60 percent of Greeks voted 'No' in the referendum. Photo: DPA

Merkel to meet Tsipras at Tuesday summit

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at a eurozone summit on Tuesday to discuss new Greek reform proposals, Greek government sources said. READ  

Students fight for life after chimney plunge
The Düsseldorf Kunstakademie (Academy of Arts). Photo: DPA

Students fight for life after chimney plunge

Two students are fighting for their lives in hospital after falling 30 metres down a chimney at the the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts on Sunday night. READ  

July heatwave
Bavarian town roasts in record temperatures
A farmer waters strawberries near Kitzingen in Lower Franconia. Photo: DPA

Bavarian town roasts in record temperatures

The small town of Kitzingen in Bavaria registered a new record temperature for Germany, as the mercury reached 40.3 C on Sunday. READ  

Greece crisis
How will Germany react to the Greek vote?
Angela Merkel has some more sleepless nights ahead of her. Photo: DPA

How will Germany react to the Greek vote?

Now that Greeks have voted against accepting tough austerity conditions in return for a fresh tranche of bailout cash, The Local asked Professor Michael Wohlgemuth of Open Europe Berlin how Chancellor Angela Merkel, other political leaders and the German public may respond. READ  

Post strike ends Monday as agreement reached
Photo: DPA

Post strike ends Monday as agreement reached

Public sector union Verdi has reached a final agreement with Deutsche Post after a strike that lasted four weeks, meaning postal service should return to normal starting on Tuesday. READ  

Women's World Cup
Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat
Silvia Neid congratulates England after Germany's 1-0 defeat. Photo: DPA

Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat

World Cup winning coach Joachim Löw defended his female counterpart Silvia Neid on Monday after Germany fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat to England in the third place play-off of the Women's World Cup. READ  

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list
An eightfold composite picture of different views of the Chilehaus (Chile House) and the Sprinkenhof in Hamburg. Photo: EPA/Christian Charisius/dpa/picture alliance

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list

The UN cultural agency on Sunday designated Hamburg's historic maritime warehouse and business districts, boasting early 20th century German brick architecture, as World Heritage sites. READ  

AfD ditches Lucke as party swings to right
Frauke Petry, the new leader of the AfD. Photo: Lukas Schulze/picture alliance/dpa

AfD ditches Lucke as party swings to right

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ousted its co-founder and frontman Bernd Lucke on Saturday to elect a Frauke Petry as sole party leader, signalling a shift in focus to immigration from its anti-euro origins. READ  

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture
A fissure on the Autobahn near Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture

The heatwave sweeping across the country may have Germans flocking to the sea this weekend, but the extreme temperatures are also causing Autobahns to break apart. READ  

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats

A vast Nazi mega-complex meant as holiday homes for German workers and later used by the Soviets as a Cold War barracks is about to be turned into luxury flats. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
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

6,912
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd