Women in Vienna were particularly active during the 1848 revolution. The following documents introduce the statutes of the city's Democratic Women's Association, a brief retrospective report from 1850 on its activities, and the petition that the association sent to the Austrian Constituent Assembly. Only women could be active and voting members of the group, and married and unmarried women had equal membership rights. These statutes were a bit of a challenge to the ideas about gender introduced in the Staats-Lexikon articles. The group's activities, though, generally followed the lines laid down as appropriate for women.
Women's political activism in Germany was suppressed after the failure of the 1848 revolution and only revived in the 1860s. 1865 saw the founding of the first national women's group, the General German Women's Association. Its statutes and the 1869 report of its presiding officer, Louise Otto, show that the group's efforts were primarily directed toward improving women's education and their chances for employment. The idea of women in the workplace, particularly women from the educated middle class, was a challenge to the gender ideals expressed in the Staats-Lexikon, which placed women's activities in the home and family.
1866 saw the formation in Berlin of the Association for the Encouragement of Employment Qualifications among Members of the Female Sex, or the Lette Association, as it was commonly known. As this 1890 retrospective on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the group's founding makes clear, it was neither a feminist nor an oppositional organization. Its founder, Professor Lette, was a man, a member of the social reform group the Association for the Welfare of the Working Classes; his society was endorsed and financially supported by members of the Prussian royal family. Nonetheless, the group's purpose – to provide education and job-training to young women from the middle class and to enable them to support themselves without having to be married – was also a step away from the gender ideals so prevalent in the period.
All of these forms of women's activity were far from finding universal support and endorsement. Political conservatives, in particular, were quite opposed to the idea of women having any role in public life. In this excerpt, Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl takes up the dominant ideas about differences between men and women and uses them to attack not just "emancipated" women, such as the author Louise Aston, but all forms of women's activity outside the home.