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A review of Christina von Braun's diary “Gender” - Culture

A review of Christina von Braun’s diary “Gender” – Culture

You were not born a feminist, especially in the Vatican in 1944. Christina von Braun spent the first five years of her life in the Vatican, where the family lived as guests of the Pope near the end and after the war was first moved to Ethiopia by the Nazis and then they were promoted to the Vatican, which is one One of the few countries that still has relations with Germany. Von Braun lived such an early childhood in the tranquility of the Vatican Gardens. It left behind celestial memories – and a lifelong longing for Italy.

It is only the first of many exceptional stages of life that Christina von Braun looks at in her memoir, “Gender. A Personal and Political History.” Lives in different worlds, between inheritance and emancipation, between Germany and France. Above all, of course, is a woman’s life.

She became a cultural scientist, author, and filmmaker; In the 1990s she brought gender studies to Germany as a training course and she is a professor at Humboldt University in Berlin. The stories of some of the men in her family have been described in detail, the best known being her uncle, Nazi rocket scientist and collaborator Werner von Braun. It seems like a charming man, but his legacy is conscious of her too. “I have never had such a divided relationship with anyone else again.” With him, another episode of the book, she also co-launched a NASA rocket at Cape Canaveral in 1969, a few months before landing on the moon. Such close encounters with the history of the twentieth century can be found in the book.

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A woman’s legacy is often verbal and thus ephemeral

As in all families, there are far fewer records of Christina von Braun’s ancestors, in the best diaries. This is despite the presence of another immediate relative of historical importance in her grandmother, Hildegard Marges. Marges was arrested by the Gestapo in Berlin and died in Barnnimstraße for women in 1944 after joining a resistance group. A woman’s legacy is often verbal and thus more fleeting. Christina von Braun has dealt with this historical injustice in previous films and books. With Gender, her granddaughters, to whom the book is dedicated, now leave a comprehensive and profound political record of her history.

For a long time, women were unable to take the freedom to pursue a career for granted: Christina von Braun as filmmaker.

(Photo: Propylaen Verlag)

Gradually, gender issues became the critical driver. Of course there were sixty-eight. The global daughter of a diplomat (a boarding school residing in England and northern Germany), as a young thinker in New York and later in Paris, was in constant contact with political and cultural elites. It grew into a women’s movement that followed the accomplishments of the 1920s, when her grandmother was politically active. Both women found each other at times in history when more was possible than before. For a grandmother after 1918, she was eligible to vote, and for Christina von Braun in the 1970s, she was free to practice.

A commodity that still feels eerily fragile in its generation. When her kids were born, she pulled the act of reading to the hospital and only took a two-week break – no exception amongst girlfriends of the same age. Today she writes that she sometimes wonders about her memories.

As a freelance worker, she made films that, at a later date, all revolve around one big question: How could gender relationships change so rapidly in just a hundred years? In a few generations, during the twentieth century, everything really changed between the sexes.

Christina Von Braun: Sex. A personal and political story. Propylaen Verlag, Berlin 2021.368 pages, 24 €.

Christina von Braun always searches for answers in history, in the history of hysteria in women, in German-Jewish history, or in German romance. It is an almost archaeological procedure developed by von Braun over the years as an author and later as a scientist, which is the shedding of papers of time, the search for what lies behind a “particular layer of memory” and why certain things have developed in parallel, such as psychoanalysis and film. She analyzes her résumé, revealing the patterns of her past layer by layer.

So how did she end up dedicating herself to gender issues? Plus time and their origins, both of which made this possible, but it was probably necessary too, the main reason was their marriage. Only in the “close struggle” of the relationship with her husband did she feel the power and anger necessary for such a path. After all, there is no place more urgent than the struggle for equal freedom than the private life of the individual, and there is nothing more politicized than experiencing oppression on one’s body. She has been married to her husband, psychoanalyst Tello Held, for the past 50 years.

In Germany in the 1980s, I was faced with an unpleasant surprise

In Germany in the 1980s, she was faced with an unpleasant surprise: she was convicted of her model who also includes a nanny. She knows very well the criticism that women like her ultimately exploit less fortunate women in their feminist work.

Some things have changed the gender since then, but other things have changed only a little bit, but that’s exactly what makes this review so helpful. One of the book’s funniest episodes revolves around the refusal of the esteemed French Academy to allow the first woman to enter the Scholars Club until 1980.

Even today, demands for equal pay and opportunity are at the top of the feminist agenda. But the politicization of women, perhaps not just in the life of Christina von Braun, is due to more individual experiences – until one understands that they may not be that individual after all. The writer’s marriage confrontation occurred when she wrote a book on hysteria in 1985 (“It’s Not Me. Logic, Lies, Sexual Desire”). The realization that “an individual problem cannot be negotiated with a“ hysterical woman’s body ”” describes Christina von Braun as liberation and ultimately the beginning of peace in their partnership.

In fact, the few pages in the book that deal with marriage struggles are especially helpful. Focusing on the private life makes the book compatible with today’s feminism. You just experience the importance of sex at certain points in life. Often times it is only when the going gets tough, that the individual has to perform, take responsibility and meet expectations – in their role as parent, partner, or employee.