West Germany’s neue Frauenbewegung and the productive potential of feminist (Gegen)gewalt

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This article explores the feminist potential of (Gegen)gewalt ((counter-)violence) during the founding years of West Germany’s neue Frauenbewegung: firstly, as a discourse and practice which helped create the discursive space to start imagining feminist identity in the late 1960s, when, it has been argued, no such identity existed; secondly, as a militant practice in the early 1970s, through which women were able to change their gendered behavioural scripts in positive feminist ways; finally, as feminist self-defence, understood as enabling women to continue to imagine an active subject position in the mid-1970s, when women as the victims of patriarchal violence had become the predominant idea of the movement. Reading feminist flyers, publications and other documents of the period, as well as more recently published accounts of the movement, alongside the wider discourse on (Gegen)gewalt of the 1960s and 1970s, I trace a cultural history of feminist (Gegen)gewalt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-404
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Issue number4
Early online date6 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Germany; violence; die neue Frauenbewegung; militancy; 1970s; antiauthoritarian student movement

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