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479 SCHLESINGER, Therese (1863–1940) Journalist and editor; Vice-President (1894–1897) of the Allgemeiner Österreichischer Frauenverein (AÖFV, General Austrian Women’s Association); leader and ideologist of the Austrian socialist women’s movement; member of the Nationalrat (Austrian Parliament) (1919–1923) and Bundesrat (Federal Council) (1923–1930); member of the board of the Austrian Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei (SDAP, Social Democratic Workers’ Party) (1918–1933). Therese Schlesinger (center), 1924, at the ‘Parteitag der SDAP’ in Salzburg Therese Schlesinger (born Eckstein) was born on 6 June 1863 in Vienna, into an upper middle-class, liberal, factory-owning family of Jewish descent. Her father, Albert Eckstein, was a chemist from Lieben near Prague. Her mother, Amalie Wehle, was born in Prague. They married in 1860 and had six daughters and four sons. Therese was the third child. The couple’s house was open to a variety of intellectual personalities and the family defined itself within the 1848 revolutionary tradition. Friedrich, Emma and Gustav Eckstein (Therese’s siblings) all became public figures: Emma, a feminist (like Therese), was one of the first patients of Sigmund Freud; Friedrich was a writer and Gustav, a Social Democrat. The education of the Eckstein daughters took the form of private lessons, the result of endeavors by their parents to compensate for the exclusion of women from higher education. 480 On 24 June 1888, Therese Eckstein married Viktor Schlesinger, a chief cashier at the Länderbank, Vienna, and fifteen years her senior. The couple were married in the large Stadttempel, in Vienna’s Seitenstettengasse, in accordance with Jewish custom. A year later a daughter, Anna, was born. Therese Schlesinger became sick during childbirth , thereafter suffering from stiff hip-joints and disability in her right leg, spending several years in a wheelchair as a result. Meanwhile, her husband died of tuberculosis on 23 February 1891. From 1894 onwards, Schlesinger became involved in the Allgemeiner Österreichischer Frauenverein (AÖFV, General Austrian Women’s Association), the radical wing of the Austrian feminist movement, recommended to Schlesinger by her friend, Marie Lang. In 1896, the Ethische Gesellschaft (Ethical Society) organized an Enquęte zur Lage der Wiener Lohnarbeiterinnen (Enquéte on the condition of female Viennese wage-workers), in which Schlesinger participated and through which she became personally acquainted not only with leading Social Democrats, but with the terrible living conditions of the lower classes, especially women—leading her to take socialist ideas seriously. Her plan to strengthen the AÖFV financially and organizationally by bringing it together with the Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei (SDAP, Social Democratic Workers’ Party) failed and so, at the end of 1897, she left the AÖFV and joined the SDAP. The Lese- und Diskutierclub Libertas (‘Libertas’ Reading and Discussion Club) elected Schlesinger as a delegate to the first social democratic women’s conference held in the Easter of 1898, an attempt to unite and organize the different social democratic women’s clubs independently of the party leadership. In the years to follow , Schlesinger appeared at the center of debates over the best way to win women to the cause of Social Democracy. Her position was clear: the demands of trade union organizations did not extend to securing the political education of women and women’s voting rights, equally important demands as far as Schlesinger was concerned . Furthermore, if a new kind of solidarity were to be developed between people within the framework of a socialist project, it was first of all necessary to treat cultural questions pertaining to ‘everyday’ life and consciousness as political concerns. Schlesinger’s position generated misunderstandings within the party at its proletarian base and resulted in feelings of antipathy towards Schlesinger as a ‘bourgeois’ Jewish woman. Such antipathy was felt, above all, by the social democratic Freie Gewerkschaften (Free Trade Unions). Schlesinger’s comprehensive understanding of politics took gender questions into consideration and emphasized the necessity of a moral ethic able to address the gendered as well as classed nature of exploitation and oppression . In her publication Eine Aufgabe der Arbeiter-Baugenossenschaften (The task of the construction workers’ cooperatives, 1912), Schlesinger addressed the practical implications of the abstract social democratic notion of ‘public’ appropriation of the ‘private’ or ‘reproductive’ sphere. She elaborated a vision of social housing equipped with central laundries, kitchens and childcare facilities, offering three main arguments in favor of such a vision: (i) food purchased in greater quantity and at cheaper rates 481 would be qualitatively revalued, since shops would be run as consumer cooperatives not as profit-making enterprises; (ii) family...


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