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

Bielby, Clare


Clare Bielby


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.


Bielby, C. (2017). West Germany’s neue Frauenbewegung and the productive potential of feminist (Gegen)gewalt. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 53(4), 379-404.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 16, 2016
Online Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2019
Journal Forum for modern language studies
Print ISSN 0015-8518
Electronic ISSN 1471-6860
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 4
Pages 379-404
Keywords Germany; Violence; Neue Frauenbewegung; Militancy; 1970s; Antiauthoritarian student movement
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Forum for modern language studies, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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