Cäcilia Rentmeister

Cäcilia (Cillie) Rentmeister (born 1948 in Berlin) is a German art historian, culture scientist and researcher of cultural conditions of women and of gender. In addition to studying the different realities in which men and women are living, she has concerned herself with the matriarchy.

Cillie Rentmeister (Okt. 2018)


Rentmeister studied at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Cologne Art History, Archeology and American Studies. She received her PhD in 1980 at the University of Bremen. Rentmeister lives in Berlin and Brandenburg, and since 1994 teaches at the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt [de] at the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences "Cross-cultural Gender Studies" and "Interactive Media".

Rentmeister engaged since the early 1970s as activist in the Second-wave feminism. From 1974, she wrote articles and essays on feminist art history, archaeology and cultural studies, which were also published in other languages.[1][2] From 1977 on she lectured in art schools, teacher colleges and universities in Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen. She was one of the initiators of the interdisciplinary women's summer programs ("Frauen Sommeruniversität") at the Technical University of Berlin und the Free University Berlin, which were attended from 1976 to 1983 by about 30,000 women, and gave a sustained impetus for women's studies and gender research in all scientific disciplines.[3]

Cover from the LP of the Flying Lesbians

Cäcilia Rentmeister was keyboardist of the Flying Lesbians,[4] the first women's rock band on the European continent.[5] She reflected the significance of women's music in her writings on rituals[6] and women´s festivals.[7]

In the 1970s and 1980s, Rentmeister also published critical essays on feminist aesthetics and women´s art, sparking controversy,[8] which she 1978 also debated internationally with Valie Export, Marlite Halbertsma [nl] [3], Ulrike Rosenbach and Lucy Lippard in the panel discussion organised by De Appel "Feministische Kunst International" in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.[9][10][11]

In the 1980s, she published as a science writer for the German public radio, - among other issues on patriarchal motives of population growth in history and present, and on the New Age movement. Since 1973 she works with her partner, film director and writer Cristina Perincioli. They wrote together the screenplay for "Anna and Edith" - the first feature film about a lesbian relationship on German television ZDF in 1975.[12][13] From 1985 on Rentmeister and Perincioli turned to the topic "computers and creativity". They developed models for artistic and educational work with multimedia, published[14] and taught these concepts with the intention to interest women for the new digital technologies, whereas in the 1980s in German academia a computer-sceptical attitude still prevailed.[15] From the 1990s Rentmeister worked as editor and project manager of websites on "sensitive" social and gender subjects that have been authored and produced by Cristina Perincioli (Two of them also in English versions)[16][17][18][19][20]

As private pilot and member of the women pilots networks Ninety Nines International Organisation and the Federation of German Women Pilots[21] Rentmeister is committed to promote the advancement of girls and women in aviation, through lectures, the media[22][23] and by organising events for schoolgirls at the Girls’ Day. Melanie Katzenberger writes: "The pioneers of the skies belong into the textbooks, calls Caecilia Rentmeister. ...Girls must get the feeling: If she can, I can also..."[24]


  • 2010 Rentmeister received the Teaching Award of the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt for her seminar "Political and Institutional Conditions of Social Work", and her course "Gender - Gender Relations: Differences, Equality, Equal Rights".[25]

Matriarchies: specific approaches of RentmeisterEdit

With respect to archaeological reconstructions of historic matriarchies, especially as mirrored in 19th and early 20th centuries reception, Rentmeister developed her ideology-critical approach. One example for this realistic approach - opposing to esoteric ones - is her essay on "Why Are There So Many Allegories Female?" from 1976.[26] In another critical essay she asked 1980: "How is politics made with notions of matriarchy?" and criticized, on the other hand, the blanket denial of matriarchy by contemporary European feminists.[27] In her article „The Squaring of the Circle. The Seizure of Power by Men over Architectural Forms“, published 1979 in a special on „Women in Architecture – : Women’s Architecture?“ in the German bauwelt, Rentmeister reconstructed architectural-spatial traces of matriarchies in ancient Europe. In another essay she asked 1980: "How is politics made with notions of matriarchy?" and criticized, on the other hand, the blanket denial of matriarchy by contemporary European feminists.[27]

These and other early archaeological texts by Rentmeister were translated into several languages; they were discussed and referred to in the dedicated international and interdisciplinary discourses of the 1970s and 1980s, including architects like Margrit Kennedy[28] and Paola Coppola Pignatelli,[29] and novelists like Christa Wolf.[30]

Sabine Herzog describes Rentmeisters approach: “The archaeologist and art historian Cillie Rentmeister published numerous works in the field of feminist cultural history and cultural criticism. In her book Women’s Worlds – Men’s Worlds of 1985, she describes the diversity of matriarchy in the past and present. Therefore a definition could only show a basic matriarchal pattern. Rentmeister ...lists some characteristics of matriarchies: In addition to matrilineality and matrilocality the avunculate and an extended family economy is characteristic, as well as a self-determined disposal of women over their bodies...”[31]

Rentmeister defined as early as 1980 the term "matriarchy" explicitly not as inversion formula for patriarchy.[32] According to Rentmeister "... there were and are certainly as many forms of matriarchy, as there are at present - and simultaneously – forms of patriarchy."[33] In 1985, she emphasizes this statement with regard to ethnological findings.[34]

1988 Rentmeister analysed the "Debate on Matriarchy" of the past two centuries in Germany, particularly in their significance for the first fifteen years of the second wave women's movement in Europe. She distinguishes, somewhat ironically, three phases between 1973–1988, and - backgrounded by her journeys to matriarchal societies in the 1980s - a certain "esoteric enthusiasm for matriarchy" and a "resuscitation of matriarchal rituals“ in Germany.[35]

The question of the real existence of contemporary, modern matriarchies led Rentmeister from 1980 to the current to preoccupy with cultural anthropological research findings. She visited matrilineal, matrilocal societies, including Minangkabau in West Sumatra and Nayar in Kerala, South India. There she received - despite social change and crises - affirmative and confident statements by indigenous peoples of the special qualities, and even merits and social dividends its matriarchal institutions and ways of life for both sexes.

How these benefits correlate statistically with a comparatively high level in the Human Development-Indicators and Reproductive Health, Rentmeister describes 2007 in her essay "Development is female”.[36] Illustrated by the examples of the Minangkabau and Nayar societies, she shows that empowerment, education and property in the hands of women contribute significantly to lower birth rates, to - in comparison to adjacent patriarchal communities - significantly less domestic violence, and for the society as a whole less poverty and better state of health can be observed.


  • Computer and Creativity, co-authored with Cristina Perincioli, Cologne 1990
  • Frauenwelten - Männerwelten (Women´s Worlds - Men´s Worlds), Opladen 1985
  • Gender in Teaching and Didactics - Gender in Lehre und Didaktik (Co-Editor), Bern, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt/M., New York, Oxford, Vienna 2003


  1. ^ "Other Languages | Cillie (Cäcilia) Rentmeister: Publikationen". Cillie-rentmeister.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  2. ^ "English | Cillie (Cäcilia) Rentmeister: Publikationen". Cillie-rentmeister.de. 1985-03-05. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  3. ^ Inge v. Bönninghausen, on Rentmeister and other lecturers of the summer Universities, in: Ariadne 37-38, Kassel 2000, S.130, „Persönliche Denkgeschichten“ (Personal Stories of Remembering); for overview of the women's summer programs and interviews with some of the founders cf. www.feministberlin.de (German language)[1]
  4. ^ "flying-lesbians.de". flying-lesbians.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  5. ^ In 1976 Monique Wittig und Sande Zeig emphasized their pioneering role in a dictionary article devoted to the Flying Lesbians: FLYING LESBIANS. Tribe of companion lovers who, as their name indicates, are wanderers. The Flying Lesbians come from Germany and have companion lovers everywhere. Singers and musicians, they owe their celebrity to the fact that they were the first group of wandering lesbians in the raving that began the Glorious Age. Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig: Lesbian Peoples. Material for a Dictionary. New York 1979 (First published Paris 1976)
  6. ^ in English cf. Cillie Rentmeister "7 Passages Between Life and Death: Rituals Doing Gender", Lecture with Pictures and Video-Documentaries, held August 25, 2000 at “ifu – international women´s university”, World Expo 2000, Hannover, Germany, full text Cecilia Rentmeister: Rituale als soziales Drama – Zur Bedeutung von Ritualen im menschlichen Leben (Rituals as Social Drama – The Meaning of Rites in Human Life), in: Scheiblich, Wolfgang (Hrsg.): Bilder – Symbole – Rituale, Freiburg 1999, S.69-99
  7. ^ Cillie Rentmeister: Frauenfeste als Initiationsritual (Women´s festivals as Rites of Passage and Initiation), in: Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Feministisches Institut (Hrsg.): Wie weit flog die Tomate? Eine 68erinnen-Gala der Reflexion, Berlin 1999
  8. ^ "Neue Frauenbewegung – Wissenschaft, Sommerunis, Kunst, Gebärstreik, Frauenfeste | Cillie (Cäcilia) Rentmeister: Publikationen". Cillie-rentmeister.de. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  9. ^ "home - de Appel". Deappel.nl. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  10. ^ "home - de Appel". Deappel.nl. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  11. ^ Another critical essay by Rentmeister Frauen, Körper, Kunst. Mikrophysik der patriarchalischen Macht (Women, Bodies, The Arts: Microphysics of Patriarchal Power) mentioned in Flynn, Caryl: The New German Cinema. Music, History, and the Matter of Style, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 2004 [2]
  12. ^ "Lesbenklassiker: Anna und Edith (mit Galerie)". Queer.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  13. ^ "TV Produktionen: Ziegler Film". Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  14. ^ cf. Perincioli, Rentmeister: Computer und Kreativität: Ein Kompendium für Computer-Grafik, – Animation, -Musik und Video, Köln 1990
  15. ^ "ZKM | MultiMediale 1". On1.zkm.de. 1989-10-30. Archived from the original on 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  16. ^ "4uman.info". 4uman.info. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  17. ^ "gewaltschutz.info". gewaltschutz.info. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  18. ^ "save-selma.de". save-selma.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  19. ^ "ava2.de". ava2.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  20. ^ "spass-oder-gewalt.de". spass-oder-gewalt.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  21. ^ "pilotinnen.net". pilotinnen.net. 2013-08-31. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  22. ^ "zur Person – CV | Cillie (Cäcilia) Rentmeister: Publikationen". Cillie-rentmeister.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  23. ^ "Pilotinnen & Technikkultur | Cillie (Cäcilia) Rentmeister: Publikationen". Cillie-rentmeister.de. 2010-08-09. Archived from the original on 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  24. ^ "zur Person – CV | Cillie (Cäcilia) Rentmeister: Publikationen". Cillie-rentmeister.de. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  25. ^ "Lehrpreis 2010 an Prof. Dr. Cäcilia Rentmeister". Idw-online.de. 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  26. ^ Cäcilia Rentmeister: Berufsverbot für die Musen - Warum sind so viele Allegorien weiblich?, in: “Ästhetik und Kommunikation”, Nr. 25/1976, S. 93. English Summary: The Muses, Banned From Their Occupations: Why Are There So Many Allegories Female, in: Kvinnovetenskaplig Tidskrift, Nr.4. 1981, Lund, Sweden, p.87; as PDF
  27. ^ a b Das Rätsel der Sphinx – Matriarchatsthesen und die Archäologie des nicht-ödipalen Dreiecks, in: Brigitte Wartmann (Hrsg.): Männlich – Weiblich. Berlin 1980
  28. ^ Margrit Kennedy: Zur Wiederentdeckung weiblicher Prinzipien in der Architektur“, in: bauwelt 1979, H. 31-32, p.1283; full text of this bauwelt edition
  29. ^ "Paola Coppola Pignatelli: Spazio e Immaginario: maschile e femminile in architettura, Roma 1982, pp. 203-206". W3.uniroma1.it. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  30. ^ Christa Wolf: Voraussetzungen einer Erzählung: Kassandra. Darmstadt/Neuwied 1983, p.80, p.159
  31. ^ Sabine Herzog: Das Matriarchat als geschlechtssymmetrische Herrschaftsform (Matriarchy as Gendersymmetric Rule), Münster 2001, p.17.
  32. ^ "...I use it here in the literal and meaningful translation of mother-beginning - not the mother's rule.", c.f. Cäcilia Rentmeister: Das Rätsel der Sphinx – Matriarchatsthesen und die Archäologie des nicht-ödipalen Dreiecks (The Riddle of the Sphinx – Theses on Matriarchies and the Archaeology of the Non-Oedipal Triangle), in: Brigitte Wartmann (Ed.): Männlich – Weiblich. Berlin 1980, p.155
  33. ^ Cillie Rentmeister: Frauenwelten – Männerwelten, Opladen 1985, p.32; For more recent references to Rentmeister's definitions see Becker/Kortendieck/Budrich 2004
  34. ^ Cillie Rentmeister: Frauenwelten – Männerwelten (Women's Worlds – Men's Worlds), Opladen 1985, p.31; see also Rentmeister in Wartmann 1980, op.cit., p.155
  35. ^ Cillie Rentmeister: Frauenwelten: fern, vergangen, fremd? Die Matriarchatsdebatte in der Neuen Frauenbewegung, in: Ina-Maria Greverus [de] (Ed.): Kulturkontakt – Kulturkonflikt. Zur Erfahrung des Fremden. Beiträge zum 26. Deutschen Volkskundekongreß 1987. Frankfurt/Main 1988
  36. ^ "Entwicklung ist weiblich. Über den Zusammenhang zwischen Gleichberechtigung, Reproduktiven Rechten und Menschlicher Entwicklung (Development is Female. On Correlations between Equality of Sexes, Reproductive Rights and Human Development), in: Rehklau/Lutz (Eds.): Sozialarbeit des Südens, Band 1, S. 91-122, with illustrations, Oldenburg 2007. Full text version". Cillie-rentmeister.de. 1984-02-15. Retrieved 2014-06-05.

External linksEdit