The Revolutionary Sisters

Vienna Circle looks at Vienna-based clubs and organisations of interest to the ex-pat community.

Vienna Circle sisters

Jenny Simanowitz (r.) ­and a fellow sister make the ‘revolution’ fun | Photo: Roman Picha

Where’s the war? And what should I wear? Younger women like me, who missed the feminist and sexual revolutions – and just as happily accepted the peace – have often wondered how to meld spirit with womanhood. But, many fellow sisters have and still do; recent cases of violence against women in Austria and India remind us of just how fragile the peace is.

It’s a cold January evening as we nuzzle into comfy red velvet seating at Café Frauenhuber, one of Vienna’s oldest coffee houses, where tightly-corseted gals from another era once sat. Gently sipping our tea, we listen: “The personal is the political,” declares Jenny Simanowitz, reminding us that we are reviving the motto of all movements for change.

Simanowitz is the founder of The Revolutionary Sisters, working to empower women to claim their lives. It is a dynamic association with some 90 members ranging from 24 to 89 years of age, professional women, diplomats, artists, entrepreneurs, students. And while these gals are not fighting for sexual freedom or basic civil rights anymore, they are gathering their voices to raise awareness that social injustice and sexual politics against women still play a role in society.


Fostering equality

“Self-confidence is part of the problem,” Simanowitz says, as women are often afraid to ask for things and assume they are not qualified for promotion in the workplace. At the meetings, the group gathers in support of their members to bolster self-confidence, to remind each other that new challenges need to be followed by equal pay.

In fact, as the Sisters have discovered, economics – equal pay for equal work – is often at the heart of most problems, and the key is transparency. How can a woman negotiate her salary if she doesn’t know how much the other managers at her level are being paid? In Sweden, contributes one Sister, pay is transparent, open to anyone to see who is being paid how much, making it much easier for others to negotiate their worth.

To draw attention to this issue, The Revolutionary Sisters are planning a demonstration in Spring at the Hofburg, at which they will wear sheer see-through gowns and march to the Women’s Ministry on Herrengasse. Gone are the feminist days of ritual bra burning – which apparently never happened anyway. Much more eye-catching is the sight of several dozen women protesting the lack of transparency with transparency of another kind. Along with commitment, the Sisters have a sense of humour.

This month, the Revolutionary Sisters are giving voice to powerless women around the world by sponsoring One Billion Rising, an international effort launched by U.S. playwright Eve Ensler to raise awareness about the plight of women and the violence against them. All those interested are welcome to celebrate 14 February, Valentine’s Day, at The HUB, 7., Lindengasse 56, beginning at 19:00. The Sisters urge you to bring musical instruments, your singing voice, laughter and good will. Men are also welcome!


The Revolutionary Sisters 
Jenny Simanowitz, Founder
7., Neubaugasse 33/2/3
0664 4750055


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