The #MeToo movement exposes and confronts sexual abuse and harassment. Its hashtag spread virally on social media in the context of accusations of sexual assault held against the American film producer Harvey Weinstein in the autumn of 2017. The movement has had huge international social and political repercussions, and has inspired or shaped academic works in a variety of fields, including history, philosophy and literature.
In the field of library classifications, the Library of Congress subject heading “MeToo movement” was created in 2020, and uses sources defining it as a movement “launched in 2006 in the United States to assist survivors of sexual violence, especially females of colour” (Encyclopedia Britannica online), which “burgeoned across social media, moving beyond Twitter and into living rooms and courtrooms” (Routledge handbook of the politics of the #MeToo movement, 2021), “revealed sexual abuse in every sphere of society” (Ruth Everhart, The #metoo reckoning, 2020), and intends “to create solidarity among survivors of sexual harassment” (Center for American Progress website). As social media played such an important role in the spread of the #MeToo movement, the Library of Congress also contributed to recording it through the compilation of a Web archive. We can also mention the #metoo Digital Media Collection built by the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, at Harvard University.
Last weekend, the English women’s football team won against Germany, thus securing third place in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Women’s football has come a long way during the last decade or so, even though the public perception of it still lags behind that of its male counterpart. Football is, of course, only one area amongst many illustrating the still prevailing stereotypes and prejudices regarding the genders. Feminism, however, doesn’t currently have the public attention that it had during the 1970s, but with people like Emma Watson recently speaking out and raising awareness to feminist issues, it is still very much a topic of importance. Historically, feminism has never been one homogenous movement, uniting the needs and requests of ALL women, but rather consisted of various approaches, ideologies and ideas. Contemporary, public feminism in Germany is, however, largely dominated by one person, Alice Schwarzer, thus leaving very little room for broad debate and limiting its reach.
To understand contemporary German feminism in contrast to its more colourful and active international version, it is important to take a closer look at its history. The book German Feminist Writings, edited by Patricia A. Hermingshouse and Magda Mueller (245:1.c.200.237), provides a great insight into German feminist thinking over the past 250 years. It is a collection of texts from German-speaking societies that deal with women’s issues, all translated into English. The book gathers thoughts on five different topics in regards to women, namely on education, work, politics, art and literature, and general issues of gender. As its own introduction states, the book does not include some texts that one might expect to be there, but therefore includes other, lesser known writings, that may not always “correspond to contemporary understandings of feminism”, but thus give a further insight into feminist history. The books Über Hexen und andere auszumerzende Frauen by Hanna Behrend and Gisela Notz (C201.d.4538) and Frauensichten: Essays zur Zeitgeschichte by Anne Jüssen (C200.d.3586) both combine various writings and essays about feminism and its historical development. Out of the Shadows: Contemporary German Feminism by Silke Beinssen-Hesse and Kate Rigby (245:1.c.95.60) was published in 1996 and not only provides further historical context about feminism in Germany, but also relates it to international feminism. Continue reading →