Excerpt from the speech of the “Action Council for the Liberation of Women”

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held by Helke Sanders at the 23. Regular Conference of Delegates of the “German Socialist Association of Students” (SDS), September 1968 in Frankfurt.

Dear women comrades, dear men comrades,


Comrades, your discussion events are unbearable. You are full of inhibitions, which you are forced to exteriorize as aggressions against comrades who have said something stupid, or something you already knew. The aggressions come only in part from political insight or the stupidity of the other side. Why don’t you finally admit that you are shattered from last year, that you don’t know any longer how to bear the stress of wearing yourselves out physically and intellectually in political actions without getting any pleasure out of it? Why don’t you discuss, before planning new campaigns, how they could be realized at all? Why do you all buy Reich? Why do you speak here of class struggle, and at home of difficulties with your orgasm? Is that no topic of discussion for the SDS?

We refuse to continue to have any part in these repressions.

In our self-chosen isolation, we thus did the following: we concentrated in our work on women with children, because they are worst off. Women with children can only start again to think about themselves when the children have stopped continuously reminding them of what society is withholding from them. Since political women have an interest in no longer educating their children according to principles of competitiveness, the consequence was that for the first time, we took seriously the expectation of society according to which it is women who are to educate the children. We took it seriously in the sense that we refuse to continue to educate our children following the principles of competition and the principle of efficiency, of which we know that their maintenance is the precondition to the very existence of the capitalist system.

We want to try to develop models of a utopian society already within the existing society. In this counter-society however, our own needs must finally find a place. In this sense, our concentration on education is not an alibi for our own repressed emancipation, but the precondition for solving our own conflicts productively. The main task consists in not driving our children on islands far off from any social reality, but rather, through supporting their own emancipatory efforts, to give our children the strength to resist, so that they may solve their own conflicts with reality in favor of a reality to be changed.

At this moment we already have five of these children’s shops (Kinderläden); four more are being organized, and a few are at the planning stage. We are working on the model for the kindergarten of the FU (Free University Berlin), are organizing kindergarten teachers or helping kindergarten teachers organize themselves. On the theoretical level, we are trying to criticize the bourgeois principle of rationality and the patriarchal understanding of science.

We have such an immense success, so many people joining, that we can barely deal with this on an organizational level. […]

Frauenjahrbuch 1, Verlag Roter Stern (1975)