A brief history of protest – Hippies, #MeToo, Fridays for future and more

Protest can take many forms: as a sit-in, teach-in, happening or as a demonstration on the street. Protest can be loud, but also very quiet. All that matters is that you do it. Go out and stand up for the issues that concern us all. We have summarized the most important activist milestones of the last decades for you - from the fight for women's suffrage to the Fridays for Future movements. And show you by the way how we can all become activists ourselves with small actions in everyday life.


Hard to believe, but true: women have only been allowed to vote in Germany for a good 100 years. How did this happen? Exactly, by protest. And women had demanded their right to equal rights much earlier. As early as 1849, Louise Otto, activist of the bourgeois revolution and editor of a political women's newspaper, campaigned for the empowerment and independence of women. Today she is spoken of as one of the few "individual voices" in an "early phase". It was only 50 years later that women increasingly took to the streets to demand their rights. However, they only became really loud after the achievements of women during the First World War did not ensure political equality. Enough was enough! Small women's associations finally formed an alliance, called for collective demonstrations, sent out petitions and put pressure on politicians - with success. On November 12, 1918, German women's suffrage is finally introduced. 


It was not until the 1960s that demos became a mass phenomenon and the most effective public instrument. The street is now considered a space for democracy. It was precisely this medium that thousands of students used in 1968 with protest marches and sit-ins that paralyzed traffic. In large university towns in what was then Federal Republic of Germany, they protested against outdated higher education systems, the grand coalition, the Vietnam War and the (non-)dealing with the Nazi past and, inspired by the hippie movement around the world, rebelled with free love and bell bottoms the antiquated gender image of the "perfect family". But the peaceful strikes in Germany quickly took on a different character. After Rudi Dutschke, the figurehead of the student movement, was seriously injured in an assassination attempt, there were violent street battles in 27 cities. In 1969, just one year later, the student movement broke up. Some saw only the armed protest as a solution to the political conflicts, which in turn also formed some terrorist groups. Other activists, on the other hand, went into politics themselves in order to be able to change something directly. Famous examples here are Joschka Fischer or Rudi Dutschke, who participated in the founding of the "Bremer Green List", which was the first green party to be elected to a state parliament. 


In the 1970s, the oil crisis triggered another wave of protests. With rallies and sit-ins, thousands demonstrated peacefully against the use of nuclear energy and took to the streets across the country for the environment. The demands for the nuclear phase-out led to the formation of a young subculture, which for the first time addressed the issue of protecting our nature and striving for a sustainable lifestyle. The 1979 protests around the Gorleben nuclear waste storage facility are considered the high point of the movement, with around 100,000 people demonstrating in Hanover under the slogan "Gorleben should live!". In 1980, the anti-nuclear and environmental movement gave rise to the founding of the party "Die Grünen", in which Joschka Fischer also played an important role. Three years later, the party entered the Bundestag. 


Social media is without question a medium for escapism and procrastination - but also for larger and smaller revolutions. For a few years now, Facebook, Instagram and Co. have revealed their true social component. The most successful example is the hashtag #MeToo, triggered by actress Alyssa Milano, who used that hashtag on Twitter in 2017 in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. In doing so, she sparked a global sexism debate and encouraged women to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment in everyday life. To date, 2.8 million posts with the hashtag have been published on Instagram alone, and #MeToo even made it into the EU Parliament. Since then, social networks have been used even more for messages that are more than just a nice influencer bubble. Topics such as gender equality, racism, body positivity or Black Lives Matter ensure really important messages in our feeds and finally make the once so shallow media political. 


In 2018, a then 15-year-old Swede decided to get involved with the climate and began to demonstrate in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm after the holidays. With her poster "Skolstrejk för klimatet" ("School strike for the climate") she called on the government to comply with the Paris climate agreement. We are talking about Greta Thunberg, whose movement has been joined by millions of schoolchildren and students worldwide to date. Since then, Fridays have been out on the street instead of in the classroom. The activists call for efficient and rapid climate protection measures in order to still be able to meet the 1.5 degree target set by the United Nations in the world climate agreement. Since 2019, FFF protagonists have been calling for "Global Climate Strikes For Future", a worldwide student strike to save our planet. Since 2020, these have been held regularly online due to the corona pandemic. In addition, various support groups from science and culture were founded in the same year to support the Fridays For Future movement, such as "Scientist for Future", "Artists for Future" or "Entrepreneurs for Future". 


In fact, it doesn't always have to be the big demo to bring about change. History shows that sometimes even small decisions can make a difference. You just have to do it. The best example is our last receipt, because our buying behavior is a super easy way to stand up for conscious consumption and to get our supermarkets to rethink and adapt the product range. Cheap meat or vegetables packed in plastic? Hell no! Anyone who chooses regional, fair and organically grown fruit and vegetables instead automatically supports fair working conditions and payments and more sustainable cultivation. A win-win-win for everyone! And if you are standing at a loss in front of the supermarket shelves, we will give you a small (shopping) list with our favorite products for an activist online and offline shopping experience: 

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