Christa Wolf sees in the overthrow of mother right, the turning point in history:
at a point where co-operation and reconciliation should have been initiated, a contradiction is opened up instead (...) Since the existence of this contradiction has constantly to be denied, covered up and suppressed, it leads to fear, hate and enmity (82). It is in this sense that she quotes Engels when he writes : "The first class antagonism which appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male. (Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Moscow, p. 66)
In other words, the introduction of father right led to the separation of the sexes, since it was based on the unnatural and total suppression of one sex by the other. Father right, which can be considered a 'violent reversal oFnaturaF conditions, could only be maintained through violence against the felame sex. Christa Wolf states therefore, that the principle of violence dominated the patriarchal system from the very beginning. This violence manifested itself in aggressiveness, conflict and enmity which according to her, has led to the present day impasse.
The overthrow of mother right by a patriarchal system and the consequent suppression of women can certainly be seen as a turning point in history, because it is directly linked with the emergence of private property and the resulting class divisions in society, i.e. between those who own property and those who do not . The history of civilisation has been the history of class struggle classes being defined in relationship to their ownership of the means of production. Once this basic dialectic of the historical process is recognised, the women's question cannot be analysed outside the system of oppression necessary for maintaining a specific class dominance. It is indeed surprising that a writer like Christa Wolf should highlight only the division between male and female and ignore the concrete conditions for the emergence of this division and its continued existence. Consequent upon this, the reflections on the 'non-participation of women in the historical process', are situated within an abstract and general framework. They -tail to integrate the context created by the dominance of a particular class and thus tend to view the women's question in an ahistorical prespective.
In a sharp polemic against Christa Wolfs lectures, Wilhelm Gimus, a literary critic of the GDR, attacks the author for implying that history is not actually the history of class struggle, but the struggle between men and women.2 He emphasizes the fact that the proletarian woman has throughout made history along with her male colleagues. The discrepancy lies only in the fact that written history has always extolled the deeds of the exploiting classes and has neglected to mention the struggles of the exploited, amongst them the women. Gimus also highlights the political achievements of women in history and brings examples from the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution and the working class movement in Germany. He reiterates that these great revolutions would not have been possible without the active support of the res-Journal of Arts'and Ideas §1