Alice Schwarzer

Alice Sophie Schwarzer

(Born 3 December 1942 in Wuppertal) is a German journalist and prominent contemporary feminist. She is founder and publisher of the German feminist journal EMMA, and a columnist of Germany’s best-selling tabloid Bild.

As the daughter of an uninvolved 22-year-old single mother, Schwarzer was raised by her maternal grandparents in Wuppertal, who she says were outspoken anti-Nazis. During World War II, she evacuated to Bavaria, only returning to the Ruhr in 1950. After studying in France, Schwarzer began a trainee journalism job in Düsseldorf in 1966. In 1969, she started working as a journalist.

From 1970 to 1974, she worked as a freelancer for different media outlets in Paris. At the same time, she studied psychology and sociology in classes lectured by Michel Foucault, among others. Schwarzer met Jean-Paul Sartre and Daniel Cohn-Bendit. She was one of the founders of the Feminist Movement in Paris (Mouvement de libération des femmes, MLF), and also spread their ideas to Germany. In April 1971, Schwarzer joined Simone de Beauvoir, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, and 340 Frenchwomen in publicly announcing that they had each had illegal abortions in a successful campaign to legalize abortion in France.

In June 1971, Schwarzer and 374 German women, including Romy Schneider and Senta Berger, confessed that they had an abortion in a successful campaign to legalize abortion in Germany. Decades later, Schwarzer revealed she had never had an abortion. She called her project Frauen gegen den § 218 («Women against Section 218», which was the section of the German Penal Code that made abortion illegal). In autumn 1971, Schwarzer released her first book of the same title. The West German legalization law was struck down by the German Constitutional Court abortion decision, 1975.

One of her best-known books is Der kleine Unterschied und seine großen Folgen (The Little Difference and Its Huge Consequences), which was released in 1975 and made her famous beyond the borders of Germany. It was translated into eleven languages. Since its release, Schwarzer has become Germany’s most high-profile, but also most controversial, contemporary feminist. She is a second-wave feminist representing concepts of feminist equality.

One of her goals was the realization of economic self-sufficiency for women. She argued against the law that required married women to obtain permission from their husbands before beginning paid work outside the home. This provision was removed in 1976.

In January 1977, the first issue of her journal EMMA was published. The next years, she concentrated on the work for her journal, serving as chief editor and publisher.

With her PorNo campaign, started in 1987, she advocated the banning of pornography in Germany, arguing that pornography violates the dignity of women, constitutes a form of media violence against them, and contributes to misogyny and physical violence against women. The ongoing campaign has not met with much success.

From 1992 to 1993, Schwarzer was host of the TV show Zeil um Zehn on German TV channel Hessischer Rundfunk. With her frequent appearances in German TV talk shows, she has become an institution on German television in all matters related to feminism.

When her journal EMMA changed to bimonthly release in 1993, she continued to write an increasing number of books, among them one about Petra Kelly and Gert Bastian, called Eine tödliche Liebe (Deadly Love), and biographies of Romy Schneider and Marion Dönhoff. In total, she has released 16 books as a writer, and 15 as publisher.

She campaigned against the law of 2002 that fully legalized brothels. She views prostitution as violence against women, and favors laws like those in Sweden, where the sale of sexual acts is legal, but their purchase is not. (See also: Prostitution in Germany.)

In 2002, in the programme Unsere Besten, she was voted the greatest living German, and the 23rd-greatest overall.

In recent years, she has been highly critical of political Islamism and the position of women in Islam; she favors prohibitions against women in public schools or other public settings wearing the hijab, which she considers a symbol of oppression. She warns of a creeping Islamicization of Europe, which, in her opinion, would lead to an erosion of human rights, especially women’s rights.

She has written in favor of the continued legality of circumcision of male children.

In June 2018, Schwarzer married her long-time life and business partner Bettina Flitner.

  • In 1996, Schwarzer received the German «Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande» (Cross of Merit on Ribbon), and in 2005, the «Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse» (Cross of Merit, First Class). The Cross of Merit is the only general state decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • In 2004, she received the «Danubius Prize» for «her passionate fight for the rights of women».
  • In December 2004, Schwarzer was made Knight of the French Legion of Honor.
  • On 15 January 2005, she received the Staatspreis of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
  • In 2007, she received the Else Mayer Foundation award.


Direzione e responsabilità del Proyecto/archivo “Altar Mujeres SXXI”:  Silvia Barrios

Artista in collaborazione nell’illustrazione e nella ricerca:

Agnes Duerrschnabel 

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