In the midst of the Malestream


Disputes on Strategy in the New Women’s Movement

A film essay by Helke Sander

92 min., DVD or BETA
colour and b/w

 Follow this link to view stills from the film. 

In contrast to the student protest movement, which has been documented in a flood of analytical films and even TV series, the story of the women’s movement has never been examined in detail.

The fact that the women’s movement did not speak with one voice has not been documented before. It was, in truth, characterized by disputes over strategy, for which the ‚children issue’ became the proxy battlefield.

Few remember this since today’s media – if at all – reports only those positions that prevailed.

The film uses a wide range of old documentary material, often recorded by filmmakers,  journalists or media avant-gardists on early electronic equipment, usually at their own expense. It took me almost two years to locate and retrieve this material, a task that frequently involved reformating it from defunct and obscure formats such as „Japan Standard 1.“

In 1968 I was not only a filmmaker but also a politically active citizen and made my contribution to the founding of the German women’s movement.  As a result I can occasionally be seen in the footage myself, not only as a chair of debates, but also as a political actor.

The film touches on the core questions of the new women’s movement: the politics of motherhood, men’s perception of themselves as fathers, the crucial anti-§218 campaign (for the legalisation of abortion), women’s silent „child-bearing strike“, and the political struggle between the women’s movement and the two Christian Churches.

A discussion on these issues in Berlin in the fall of 2004 was used as a framework for the film. The participants were:


Halina Bendkowski, feminist researcher on men,

Gisela Erler, Familienservice GmbH (family service),

Peggi Liebisch, Vorstand Verband alleinerziehender Mütter und Väter (Member of the Board of the Association of Single Mothers and Fathers),

Dr. Johanna Mierendorff, Children’s rights expert

Signe Theill, Artist, Curator

Bettina Schoeller , Director, Author

Dr. Annegret Stopczyk , Philosopher

Helke Sander, Author, Director


A Helke Sander film production, © 2005

Sponsor: Sanssouci Business Academy

With support of Hannelore Mabry – Bayrisches Archiv der Frauenbewegung

For press and distribution information on In the midst of the Malestream, please contact:

Jutta Platte, tel. +49 (0) 30 61 62 47 69, mobile: +49 (0) 177 763 93 62,