Anti-feminism in Germany 1912-1920 : the German League for the Prevention of Women's Emancipation / by Diane Trosino.
This study examines the reactionary and organized opposition to feminism in Germany in The German League for the Prevention of Women's Emancipation, or the Anti-League, as the feminists dubbed it. A detailed account of the League's activities from its beginnings in 1912 until its dissolution in 1920 is presented. Based on a reconstructed membership list, the study offers a demographic analysis of Anti-League members and officers including an evaluation of the League's geographic distribution and the extent of women's participation in it. The nationalist League and its subsidiary, the Christian-National Group Against Women's Emancipation, attempted to stem the tide of what it called the "radical" women's movement. Its main targets were the bourgeois Federation of German Women's Associations--despite its moderate reputation--and the conservative German-Evangelical Women's League. Anti-League arguments against women's emancipation were based not on an explicitly misogynist ideology, but on "natural gender differences." Under the motto, "genuine manliness for men; genuine femininity for women," the League strove to restore German society to a state in which sex roles were highly differentiated and the ideal German woman was revered. Using mass propaganda tactics, Anti-League members proclaimed the detrimental effects that educated, working, and politicized women would have on the German society and the German race. Their activities centered around preventing coeducation, limiting female employment to positions "commensurate to the female nature," preventing women's suffrage on any level, maintaining teacher celibacy, and ensuring that women could not hold positions of authority over men in the work force. The League claimed to be nonpartisan, but clearly had a conservative political agenda. It was a part of the national opposition which used racist and nationalist rhetoric. Unlike its primarily anti-suffrage British and American counterparts, the League, first subtly, then overtly expressed anti-socialism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Catholicism. This study provides insight into the opposition faced by the women's movement--an opposition which surfaced again in Germany in a more radical form in the 1930's.
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