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Where upper class women were literate in England and France and sometimes became prolific writers of feminist works, a network of feminist writers and activists was slow to emerge in what would become modern Germany.
Many reasons have been considered as having a bearing upon this dilemma, from fractured regions, to the lack of a capital city, to the slow spread of novels and other literary forms in German-speaking areas.
Some women who worked for women's rights were in fact opposed to extending the vote to women, a stance that became more widespread at the turn of the 20th century, when many Germans were concerned that granting women the vote would result in more votes for socialists.
Nevertheless, women became much better organized themselves.
Later waves of feminist activists pushed to expand women's rights.
From the beginning the BDF was a bourgeois organization, its members working toward equality with men in such areas as education, financial opportunities, and political life.
From the early Medieval period and continuing through to the 18th century, Germanic law assigned women to a subordinate and dependent position relative to men.
Salic (Frankish) law, from which the laws of the German lands would be based, placed women at a disadvantage with regard to property and inheritance rights.
Some women of means asserted their influence during the Middle Ages, typically in royal court or convent settings.
Hildegard of Bingen, Gertrude the Great, Elisabeth of Bavaria (1478–1504), and Argula von Grumbach are among the women who pursued independent accomplishments in fields as diverse as medicine, music composition, religious writing, and government and military politics.