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2. Were women more emancipated in East Germany than in the West?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the extent to which women in East Germany were ‘freer’ than women in West Germany, focusing in particular on: (i) different ways of thinking about ‘freedom’; (ii) the high rate of female participation in the workforce throughout the forty years of the GDR’s existence; (iii) the lack of gender equality in the workplace; (iv) the legalisation and easy accessibility of abortion in the GDR from 1972 onwards; (v) the ability for women in East Germany to lead a life independent of men, and the ease of securing a divorce from one’s husband; (vii) the extent to which politics was dominated by men; and (viii) the extent to which women were subject to the same surveillance and repression by the state as everyone else in society.
In this course, Dr Marcel Thomas (University of Manchester) explores life in East Germany between 1945-89 via six key questions: (1) Why was housing seen as so important to the building of a socialist society?; (2) Were women more emancipated in East Germany than in the West?; (3) To what extent did Stasi surveillance shape life in East Germany?; (4) How important was repression for the stability of the GDR?; (5) What was the role of the Protestant church in East Germany?; and (6) How did Ostpolitik change relations between West and East Germany?
Dr Marcel Thomas is a historian of modern Germany with a particular interest in rural and urban life, oral history, memory and sensory methodologies. His monograph Local Lives, Parallel Histories: Villagers and Everyday Life in the Divided Germany (2020) is the first comparative study of how East and West German villagers experienced and navigated social change in their localities in the postwar era.
Cite this Lecture
Thomas, M. (2021, February 09). Germany – Life in East Germany, 1949-89 - Were women more emancipated in East Germany than in the West? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/germany-life-in-east-germany-1949-89/were-women-more-emancipated-in-east-germany-than-in-the-west
Thomas, Marcel. "Germany – Life in East Germany, 1949-89 – Were women more emancipated in East Germany than in the West?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Feb 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/germany-life-in-east-germany-1949-89/were-women-more-emancipated-in-east-germany-than-in-the-west