Varieties of Feminism: German Gender Politics in Global Perspective

By Myra Marx Ferree | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
WE WANT HALF
THE POWER
Feminists and Political Institutions,
1982–1990

AS THE MEETING BROKE UP, about six hundred women streamed out of the auditorium in small groups, actively debating what they had just experienced. The occasion was the founding congress of the Women’s October 6 Initiative in Bonn in spring 1982, and it had been a contentious meeting. Women from the political parties had been invited to present policy ideas that would “take women’s side,” but they were met with catcalls from the audience. Some autonomous feminists angrily accused “party women” of being apologists for their parties, there merely as recruiters. Other “project feminists” argued that the new Green party (Die GRÜNE) was a potentially woman-friendly ally that could give them voice in the political system, even a chance to change the system itself.1 Some were openly skeptical. They made a sharp distinction between autonomous feminists and “Green women.” One woman near me turned to her friends, waved her arm in their faces, and declared angrily, “Just look at me, look at me! Does that arm look green to you? I am not a “green woman”! I am a feminist, and I will stay a feminist, no matter how often or how strongly I work for the Greens!”

This tension between project- and party-based ideas of feminist strategy grew throughout the 1980s. The day after the federal elections of October 5, 1980, some

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