carla-bruni-afp-telegraph

I’M NOT A FEMINIST, BUT…

As much as it pains me to open a story about Feminism quoting Carla Bruni, what the former supermodel and French first lady said overnight goes to the heart of what so many women feel about the F word.

“We don’t need to be feminist in my generation.” Bruni told Paris Vogue. “There are pioneers who opened the breach.

“I’m not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, I’m a bourgeois. I love family life, I love doing the same thing everyday.”

 

Said former French First Lady, Carla Bruni: “We don’t need to be feminist in my generation.” Photo via Reuters.
 

Across the Atlantic Ocean Huffington ...

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78 Comments

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Jane Caro

    Any woman or man who says they are not a feminist needs to answer the simple question; “Oh, so what is your reason for not believing women & girls should have the same human rights as men & boys?”
    Because that is all feminism is and has ever been about.
    Feminism, at essence, is the fight by women to have their work, achievements, talents, ambitions, perspectives and concerns taken as seriously as those of men and boys.
    Feminism places women at the centre of their own lives rather than at the periphery of someone else’s.
    Tell me why anyone would want to either argue with or disassociate themselves from that?

    • Reply November 28, 2012

      sonja

      Feminism isn’t the only movement that pushes for equality, so not being a feminist does not at all mean you’re against equal rights. I refuse to call myself a feminist, but I am an open Egalitarian.

      • Reply December 10, 2012

        Katrina

        But why refuse to call yourself a feminist?

    • Reply December 7, 2012

      Tracey Learmont

      You’re bloody brilliant Lucy.
      About time someone put this in perspective and gave those proudly enjoying a bourgeois lifestyle (including myself!) a rhetorical kick up the bum.
      Love your work.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Dee

    Good on you Lucy. I completely agree.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Diana

    Well said Lucy and Jane.
    I think many women have been too scared to challenge their status quo to realise how differently they are treated. I watched my nephew at an fencing comp the other day and heard his mother and another mother telling the guy they were buying the necessary protective equipment from to put some on the credit card and paying some by cash so that it won’t look so bad to the husbands. These are smart, intelligent women who don’t credit themselves with the ability to make the call about such things and be treated fairly for it..They both told their sons and daughters present not to tell….I despaired

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Doc

    Bloke, ‘feminist’ & agree. Nice work Lucy.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    julie p

    Thank you Jill and Jane for such clear explanations of feminism. Do young women have any idea of how long the fight for women’s suffrage was? equal pay? the right to have equal say in your child’s medical care and education? to take a personal loan without a father or husbands consent?I could go on and on and on. Now that Carla Bruni’s generation have these hard won rights, can they not have the compassion to look around them and see what still needs fighting for.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    nellae

    Wonderful article well done. The Hoopla is my favourite morning read.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    mary

    NOT. DEAD. NEVER!!!!!
    Thanks for a wonderful article.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    JanH

    If anyone needs a reason to be a feminist please read Half the Sky, How to Change the World by Nicholas D Kristof & Sheryl Wudunn. The authors show that women are the solution to tackling poverty, disease and conflict; educating them, supporting them and getting them out from under the systematic abuse/violence/oppression they are subjected in every country of the world including ours. You don’t have to call yourself a feminist, you just have to recognise the facts: one in three Australian women over the age of 15 has experienced and will report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives. Is this acceptable?

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Jenn

    THANK YOU! I am a SAHM & a Feminist. I am so sick of being told I can’t be both or that I am wasting my talent & education because I am choosing to stay at home. Yes it is a choice for me. One that I am lucky enough to be able to make.

    We spend so much time bitching about semantics and excluding women from the lable we forget that so many women and girls still do not have the right to the things we take for granted.I don’t care that some choose not to call themsevleve feminists – either through ignorance or because they just don’t want too! All I care about is that there are people in this world who get that we still have work to do!

    While women are calling out other women & questioning their right to claim the tag of Feminist or while women are lecturing others about how they should be doin this or that girls are still being married off at the age of 11, they are still having their genitals cut off & acid thrown in their face.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Carla Stacey

    You will like this:

    http://www.upworthy.com/finally-a-video-for-women-who-dont-consider-themselves-feminists?c=upw1

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Emma Noble

    Well said, Lucy! Thanks for writing this. And those women who claim not to be feminists: what choices have you made about the way you live your lives? Because feminism gave you the right and the ability to make those choices.

    I saw this on Upworthy today and thought it expressed the same point really well, too. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    http://www.upworthy.com/finally-a-video-for-women-who-dont-consider-themselves-feminists?g=2&c=upw1

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Emma Noble

    (ahem) just realised i found the upworthy vid courtesy of The Hoopla *blushes*. thank you!

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    jonah stiffhausen

    May I say something?

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Lucy Clark

    If it is reasonable and non-defamatory, and contains no hate speech then please, be our guest. Otherwise, prepare to be deleted.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    gemmie

    Being raised christian (now apostate) I am surrounded by complementarians who believe women should come under the authority of men. This drives me nuts! These women work as professionals, have had brilliant education, access to income own assets etc etc then turn around and say women should defer to men for decision making. Arrgghhh I find this so hypocritical

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Lisa Lintern

    From where I see things feminism has only just begun. There is a very long journey ahead. Bravo for such a wonderful piece.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    mudhousejane

    My daughter has grown up with the assumption that she has the same power to choose as men. I’ve worked hard to foster this sense but of course it has been eroded daily by what she sees within Australian and global society.

    She has a prevailing strong sense of justice for those who are disadvantaged and downtrodden, and for that I am grateful. Whilst she may be constantly disappointed by the reality of gender “equality”, she still has the passion and generosity to focus on fairness regardless of gender.

    The interview with Carla Bruni made me a little sad. Actually it made me a bit cross. Feminism is about the power to choose and the right to be actively included in debate and decision making, without fear of retribution – violent, or less obvious. To trivialise feminism to a choice between flower arranging and being out and about is so depressing: does Bruni not get that her choice to enjoy being “bourgeois” is one she has made: not a condition imposed on her.

    I love being at home, too: I am a crap homemaker but still…I also love lots of other things : I am I grateful that, despite being often discriminated against in terms of gender and age, I still know that there are choices I can make – and those choices are there because of the dreaded “feminism” of which some feel so apologetic.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Gemma D

    Beautiful work Lucy. Wonderfully written.
    I completely agree, and yet… I have noticed myself cringing at being labelled “feminist” by others. But I think it is the word, not the sentiment that is my problem. When I hear the word feminist I get an image in my head of a man-hating, aggressive woman who shaves her head but not her armpits. I don’t know where this image comes from, but it is there. I also think of the ads for female products (usually tampons) that make men look like neanderthals, and I think “Is this what feminism is about?” Surely we don’t have to put men down to build ourselves up? I think the label has become loaded and at times derogatory.

    So when I get called “feminist” I usually correct people and say “No, I am an equalist”, because I believe passionately in equality. Right now, there are inequalities related to gender, race, age, Socioeconomic status.
    I feel a desperate pull to fight for equality in ALL these areas.
    I don’t think we have to hate men to do it.

    So, I am a feminist. Definitely, 100% and with all my heart.
    But, please don’t use that word.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Alice Shaw

    I am a feminist. I was raised by a feminist and I am raising feminists. We believe that women are equal, deserve equal pay, equal access to employment opportunities and to not be discriminated against because of our gender.

    I understand that some people think the word feminist conjures up “man hating” women. I have on many occassions been accused of “hating men” simply because I desire a world where I am free to walk around in whatever attire I choose without being raped or attacked because of it, I desire a world where domestic violence isn’t written off as a “private” matter, I desire a world where my daughters are paid equally and are not told they can’t take a joke when they protest about gendered humour which seeks to put them down simply because they are women.

    The word feminist has been made a “dirty” word by those who seek to put us down, who seek to tell us that if we are feminists then we must be man hating, bra burning, non-family oriented, nasty, loud mouthed, hairy pits bitches who should do as we are told. For that very reason we should reclaim the word instead of shying away from it.

    Because I am a feminist does not mean I don’t want to be a loving partner. Because I am a feminist does not mean i don’t want to be a loving and involved mother. It is because I am a feminist that I can do these things, I can work, I can speak up, I can fight for what I believe in, I can support women, I can support men, I can keep on working towards a world where equality is a reality.

    I’ll say it loud and proud… I am a feminist.

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      SuziQ

      BRAVO, Alice. I couldn’t agree more. The word has been stolen from women, by those who don’t wish to have equality among humans, in any way. In the words of Bono…..” we’re stealin’ it back!’

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Natalie

    Thanks Lucy. Couldn’t agree more.

    Having worked in Saudi, women can’t drive at all on public streets, with or with out their chaperone.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Lucy Clark

    Hi Gemma, you’re right, the word Feminist has become loaded. That’s why it’s really important to remind those that think it is a derogatory term of the basics – that Feminism is simply about women not being discriminated against on the basis of gender. It is not about hating men, or putting them down, it’s about standing beside them in true equality. Reclaim the title!

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Tracy

    I am glad to see this great response in the wake of what Carla Bruni said. She is a niave and priveliged woman who has little concept of the situation for many women, and consequently many children, around the world.

    I am a RADICAL feminist and I have no problem declaring it out loud. I am raising feminist daughters and pro feminist sons. Many women suffer violence at the hands of some men and yet women rarely accuse men of hating women – but as soon as women merely question the status quo they are so very quickly labelled as man haters. Feminism is good for all people. Great achievements have been made but there is still so much to do . I would love to see a real surge in the movement in Australia as is happening in different places around the world.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Rhoda

    Understand the point you’re making Gemma but would like to point out that the picture you see wasn’t painted by feminists. It was painted by those leading the backlash.

    We can always do what painters do when the picture isn’t working for them and wipe over, start again. Paint our own picture this time. If ordinary women stand up to be counted and point to all the work yet to be done then we can really get this show on the road.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Ella

    Carla Bruni is a rich woman who has always had the freedom to do as pleased, yet appears to be totally unaware that not all people in the world have the same opportunities, she just dosent seem to know better.

    Feminism is not just for women, it’s for equallity for all human beings.

    There are times, especially at child bearing and raising stages when women need to lean on their partner, but we are talking about 10 – 15 years. So why should a man be totally financially responsible for his familly, when a woman is perfectly capable of contributing and at times when necessary supporting her partner?

    If men realised that feminism was for all and not just women, then perhaps they would becomen feminists too.

    As a mother of sons, I have always told them that gender equality is as much for them as it is for women.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    jillU

    Totally agree. I did think oh who the heck would even ask Carla Bruni for her opinion, but things then became clearer on reading it was Vogue. Love the pictures of shiny things in that mag (although I don’t buy it myself) but really, their intellect or ability to promote intellect is not renowned. Equality is still an issue in this world (FYI Carla) and certainly including women.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Maybe Bruni is a passive feminist? It takes all sorts to change our worlds.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Closer to home,readers of the Hoopla will have read some very nasty input from some women-hating people. This is a dense reminder for the rest of us about why feminism remains important. And yes, feminism is a movement, and as a movement it changes direction, but its foundations are clear. For me,it is about being a woman-identified woman.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Sue Bell

    feminists were never all man hating, shaven headed, overall wearing people, they were men and women who believed in equal rights for all and the right to follow your own road.As a feminist I chose to be a stay at home mother. I worked to put myself and my husband through uni, and I shifted states twice for his career. Then when we had the babies, as I had lost two, we shifted state again so we could have the babies in safety. I chose to remain in the home, he chose to go out in the work force. Any work I did as a comedian/singer/voluneer was around the children. Once when I was a bit down he asked me what I had done all day, I was worried that he might think I was not contributing enough to the marriage by not working. When I told him of the word games we had played, of the music the children had listen to, of the stories I had read to the and not doing much housework, he said “so you spent all day educating our children” totally validating my decision to stay at home with the children. Not only am I a feminist I bought up my children (male and female) to be feminists. I now teach at a University of the third age (U3A) my students are in their seventies and they are all feminists, they despair for the future and the way feminism has been demonised and they all were exultant at Julia’s speech on sexism and misogyny. My children are successful in their careers and studies and are happy little vegemites.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    I wore overalls in the seventies~ and can I say it was a bugger doing so , sitting down on a toilet.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Kathryn Fox

    Feminists are humanists who care about women being discriminated against, subjugated and abused.

    If we all had the attitude ‘I’ve never experienced it so it isn’t an issue,’ we would still have sex slaves, women earning less than men, girls shot in the head for believing they should be educated, child brides, most likely to die at the hands of our partner, etc. Good thing some people can think about more than themselves and realise not everyone has the same choices.

    I don’t need to have had a heart attack to know how serious and life-threatening one is. It isn’t difficult to imagine women in horrific situations, none of which is their choice.

    For some reason, the more privilege, the less empathy. Thanks to all the women who are using their humanism/feminism for others. We have such a long way to go.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Nan

    Yay! As a gen X feminist I’ve had to repeat over and over that feminism is not a dirty word! I want to teach my daughter the importance of what it means to be a feminist. As it stands the message is diluted with the mistaken belief that ‘equality is here! Now just shut up already!’ hopefully I wont have to try too hard!

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Annie Also

    Feminism also means that as a woman you support the choices of other women to raise their own children and fight for the right to be the primary care giver without having to pass the responsibility over to some young lass who has never had a child.
    Nothing has changed if ‘feminism’ is only for ‘paid working women’…I am saddened by the comments by women who are divisive in saying ‘a wife and mother cannot be a feminist’. I was that and I AM a feminist since the 1970′s. I have fought just as hard for equality in all parts of life for all women…now it is time the ‘paid working feminists’ support the hard workers who are not ‘paid’ to do a good days work.,the feminists in the home ( and school, and charity working, volunteering, carers)

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    me

    “We don’t need to be feminist in my generation.There are pioneers who opened the breach.”…

    apparently Bruni has blinkers on and doesn’t believe that there is any need to fight for the rights of those less fortunate then herself – those women who are still not treated equally; perhaps in lower income sections of her society, perhaps in neighbouring countries. She should check male versus female pay rates; male vs female superannuation/savings; domestic violence and sexual abuse statistics – and mental health and homelessness stats too.

    “I’m not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, I’m a bourgeois. I love family life, I love doing the same thing everyday.”

    Talk about blinkered and ignorant of ‘white middle/upper class privilege’. She doesn’t seem to realise just how much she takes for granted.

    i.e. “I’m not a hairy legged, bra-less, angry, man hating, placard waving lesbian. On the contrary, I put time into keeping myself look good (having been lucky enough to have been born with the looks society generally accepts as ‘beautiful’) and keeping my man happy/proud, staying at home in the traditional carer role that society sanctions.”???

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Well “me”~ I am hairy legged,no bra, and I can no longer be bothered woman who has stuck up for other peoples’rights most of my life. I agree with Kathryn that feminists are humanists.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    The Huntress

    I am a staunch feminist and always will be. My mother wasn’t a feminist, strangely enough, as she was discriminated against career-wise all her life and just accepted it. I won’t.

    I will not accept that my husband will always earn 4 times than me, despite us having similar qualifications. I did not accept that being abused was the norm, despite believing so for a very long time. I will not accept my fathers stance that “I asked for it” and therefore it was ok for my ex to abuse myself and my son. I will raise my son to be a feminist and to seek justice and equality for EVERYONE, regardless of their gender (or race, culture, sexuality etc.).

    Until men and women have equal opportunities I will not stop being a feminist. I’m not angry, I wear a bra (indeed I wear high heels, makeup and dresses ’cause I love being a feminine woman) and I do campaign for causes where men are let down. But I will never accept that feminism is a dirty word and I WILL continue to campaign and educate for equality for women for as long as my life will allow me.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    me

    My post wasn’t very clear, sorry. I meant that Carla and many women seem to equate ‘feminist’ with “hairy legged, bra-less, angry, man hating, placard waving lesbians”…not that there’s anything wrong with any of those choices but many women don’t see themselves or identify that way – though they would probably agree they believe in equality between the sexes.

    Anyway, with regards to Carla – its all very well for her to say that having married a powerful, wealthy man and having the power of her good looks to propel her to where she wants to go. I don’t think feminism has ever been a huge movement in France anyway.

    I liked a comment I saw from a male on another blog about this issue – “Who cares what she thinks? PHWOAR.”

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Sorry for any misunderstanding “me”. Some of us say “yoo hoo” from the extremes in order to make ourselves heard. That is what it was like back in the 70′s. Now here we all are in 2012.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Joanne

    you dont have to be a bra burning, hairy armpitted, ball breaker to be a feminist.
    You just have to be an aware,, educated, free thinking, woman who still likes to be a woman, a wife, and a mother. If you have children you have an obligation to those children to raise them in an environment where they see woman around them being strong and using their voice to speak up about injustices towards woman, that way it becomes a norm within the family environment and those values are past down through the generations,,,,, eventually rights for woman will no longer be an issue,,,,,,,,, but that will be a long way off,,, all we can do is our own little bit within our own family and friends network.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Maybe Bruni is passed it for feminist inspiration but I for one was inspired by several french feminists who explored the notion of “other”. Great mind bending alerting intellectual material. So if you are a “passive” feminist who produces philosophies that change our ways of thinking~good.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    leigh

    you don’t have to travel to Kandahar to find the inequities in our society. Geena Davis institute on gender in media released a great new psa which talks to the inequities in what our children are seeing in the mass media world something that colours all of our perceptions on an ongoing basis (see link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BumIt2pIRuw&feature=youtu.be)

    I think women in their twenties have rejected a stereotype of feminism and have therefore bought into a nieve perception that there is equality. The statistics however, don’t suggest the same.

    I wrote a blog post a few years back suggesting that maybe we need to rebrand feminism. We definitely need to do something bc it’s too easy to end up going backwards.

    http://leighhimel.blogspot.ca/2007/10/feminism-needs-new-name-were-thinking.html

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Bobbie B

    A very important article. It is assumed feminism has had its day as western middle class women make some historic achievements.
    It might be a good idea to start rejecting some 1970′s stereotypes IE: no bra was ever burned at the start of the second movement.
    There are women everywhere who could do with support and respect from other women.
    Its not over yet, women.

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Marilyn

    Thank you Lucy. Well written and encapsulates so much about what is wrong in our world. I pass to you my heartfelt gratitude that you and others like you are maintaining the rage we older feminists have carried for so long. A few years ago I was despairing the lack of activism in particularly younger generations women, those “Gen Y” types who have had it all thrust upon them by their well to do “boomer” parents (those whom reaped the fortuitous rewards of the eighties. I am totally heartened by your article, And as a 60 year old community services worker I have certainly heard many colleagues say exactly those words….I’m not a feminist but……always apologising …..always on the defensive……why, do women have to always apologise for being women?…..by saying those words they are propping up the inequalities inherent at every level of community, business, and government. I always remember the words of Mahatma Ghandi who said “Be the change you want to see in the world” By living your principles, it is the best way to stand up to discrimination and inequity. As a mother of 4 young boys, I took them along to Reclaim the Night Marches”……IWD events and functions…….then made me proud when one of them gave a presentation at school on the suffragette movement…..and came to me for resources to use……and now I can be proud of them as young men whom will make great partners because they can look after themselves. Then I have made my contribution. By sending 4 young men into the world with feminist ideas and principles. I have done my job as a feminist and am proud of that. Keep up the great fight….as you say , not dead yet….Never! Pass the Baton to your children……

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Melissa

    Grat article Lucy and yes, bravo to all the great comments above.Does feminism need rebranding or would verify the villification of the term and the concept.
    Funny, I can’t recall anyone from a minority ethnic group, for instance openly saying, ” I’m not oposed to racism” . Yet where women’s equality of at stake, there’s this logic- defying rush to declare ” oh no, not me, I’m not a feminist”.
    Go figure!

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    annabellouise

    Lucy, your article made me cry. Great article.

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Donna Close

    Hit the nail on the head Lucy. Well done!!!

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Jacqueline

    I am a feminist. Feminist. FEMINIST. And thank you, Lucy, for this article.

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Gerry Roubim

    Wonderful article Luce. So proud of you. Love Gerald

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    caryll

    Hear Hear Lucy
    Well said

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    rachel

    just adding my name loudly and clearly. I AM A FEMINIST. Of all the ISM’s I am that first and foremost because without it I have no power to effect anything else I am passionate about.

  • Reply November 29, 2012

    Bevy

    Great stuff!! Pity about the women rugby players in Iraq having their pastime stopped .Along with all the other atrocities those people (Men)impose on their women ,that just adds to the hooror.

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Tony W

    @ Donna Close – “Hit the nail on the head Lucy. Well done!!!”

    How do you figure that Donna? Bruni asserts that Feminism is obsolete in France, and as rebuttal, Lucy takes us on a Human Rights tour of Pakistan, Yemen, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Thus leaving Bruni’s assertion to stand completely unchallenged in respect of not only France, but the entire Western World. Remind me not to hold the nail when Lucy is swinging the hammer!

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the only argument that can be mounted in defence of Feminism in the Western World is a plea for solidarity with the plight of women in underdeveloped Muslim countries. It reminds me of the argument used by the nuns when we struggled to eat our school lunch and sought to dispose of a portion – “Think of all the starving children in the world.”

    If that argument could be seen through by primary school children, how far do we think it will get with adults? It’s all very well to wave the flag of solidarity and reaffirm our vows of feminism here on Hoopla, but if we’re going to ram feminism down the throats of adults like the nuns rammed sandwiches down the throats of schoolchildren, let’s not be too surprised if we fail to win the hearts and minds of a new generation of young women. And if we do it long enough and loudly enough and forcefully enough, let’s not be too surprised if they gag and vomit feminism back up in our faces. Or has that happened already…?

    What’s needed here IMO is not a piece that sidesteps Bruni’s allegation, but one that tackles it head on. One that seeks to convey to young women that there is much work yet to be done, not criticize them as lazy selfish and ungrateful to previous generations for not doing it. Hence while I agree to some extent with Lucy’s rhetoric – “Has the rising cult of the individual obliterated our ability to think beyond our own experience?”, it’s entirely counterproductive to attack the very women we’re seeking to recruit, so forgive me if I don’t see this as Lucy’s finest work.

    However, notwithstanding Lucy’s Middle East meanderings, her piece does pose what seems to me the most important question ever posed on Hoopla, namely why is a new generation of western women rejecting feminism? It would be good to see more discussion of that question and what can be done to redress the situation. Personally I agree with comments by leigh and Rhoda that “we need to rebrand feminism” and “Paint our own picture this time.” However…far be it from me as a man to redefine feminism (!) so I shall await other comments!

    • Reply November 30, 2012

      Janet G

      Hi Tony,

      How can Bruni, from her privileged position, speak for all the women of France?

      Also, the nuns never stuffed sandwiches down my throat. They did, however, make sure that my education was substantial yet compassionate and creative.

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Rhoda

    There’s a feminist group in France who call themselves ‘Dare to be feminist’ – Osez le Féminisme. Sounds like a great slogan to me.

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    KathyW

    I have to agree with TonyW, it would be more productive to address Bruni’s views, rather than point out the appalling state of things for women (and indeed many men, however women cop the worst) in less developed areas of the world.

    The real challenge is to challenge that stupid stereotype of a feminist as ‘hating men’, coined of course by men feeling threatened by women daring to assert their equality. Of course most women don’t want to be cast as man haters, cos they don’t hate men!! Hence they avoid being ‘labelled’ as a feminist.

    I am a lesbian. And guess what, I don’t hate men either!! I don’t want to sleep with them, but that sure doesn’t mean I hate them. Well, some individual men perhaps :) and I must add, some individual women!!! Actually, I don’t ‘hate’ anyone.

    And as a lesbian I am also used to being stereotyped, and it bugs the hell out of me, but all I can do is call people out on it. Sure, I have hairy armpits occasionally, and my legs face the blade even less frequently, but that’s got nothing to do with how I feel about men – more that I am continually time-challenged and running late for work! :)

    Again as a lesbian I am often told I should be ‘grateful’ for the advances that have been made, after all its no longer illegal to be gay. Why can’t I just count that little blessing, and give up on this ‘boring’ and ‘selfish’ cry for full equality?! This is exactly what western women are told all the time -”things have changed, you’re better off, just be thankful for that and SHUT UP!!”

    I don’t accept that, either as a feminist or a lesbian. And yes I do what I can to fight for the rights of those even less fortunate. But there’s so little I can practically do there, whereas in my own actual life, I can have an impact. I can change people’s minds, or at least challenge them to think.

    Being a lesbian isn’t a ‘lifestyle’, it’s a life. And being a feminist isn’t a lifestyle, or a theory, or a political thing – it’s also a life.

    Women have a very long way to go, and we can be proud of the progress, but we should never allow that progress to be halted, and even reversed. And that’s what way too many people, not all of them men, would like to see…

    Still, if it is the only way we can get the younger generation of women to re-embrace feminism, maybe a focus on other parts of the world is at least part of the solution??

  • [...] I’m Not a Feminist, But… [...]

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Lucy Clark

    Wow Tony, that’s some kind of prism you’re looking at my story through. You seemed to gain so much more from it than what I actually wrote. I would just like to correct some factual errors you make.

    For example: you say Carla Bruni was just talking about feminism being obsolete in France, but actually she was talking about feminism in her generation, full stop. No mention of France anywhere.

    You say Bruni’s assertion is left standing completely unchallenged in respect of not only France, but the entire Western World and yet I write about Western World issues like equal pay for equal work, workplace discrimination, and abortion law in the USA.

    I did not at any point criticise any young women about being “lazy and selfish and ungrateful” and at no point did I use these words. I didn’t “attack” anyone, and feminism doesn’t “recruit”.

    I don’t mind if you don’t like my story but I can’t let factual errors go by unremarked, sorry.

    I’m sorry that as a child you had to think about the starving children in Africa while you ate your jam sandwiches. My story set out to remind people that women are still suffering great injustices and violence on the basis of their gender all around the world, in every country and therefore, that Feminism was not dead. On this basis it was a plea for solidarity and I’m pleased to see that most people got it.

    I am also pleased to report that Equality Now in New York has contacted me and told me they had a rush of membership and support as a result of this article. This will directly help women and girls most in need – so it just goes to show that we can effect change from behind our computers in the Western World.
    Thanks everyone.

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Tony W

    “they had a rush of membership and support as a result of this article.”

    Excellent Lucy! I’m glad they weren’t looking at it through my prism!

    My prism BTW is not entirely of my own construction, it’s informed to a large extent by my niece, who expresses a determination not to follow in my sister’s feminist footsteps – a matter of considerable disappointment to us both, and plenty of arguments between the two of them!

    Hence my frustration that your piece called for solidarity, an argument which has failed to impress my niece, and focussed on circumstances outside Australia which are irrelevant to her daily life.

    In my own defence re factual errors:

    “No mention of France anywhere.”

    True, but when someone says “my generation”, I don’t believe they’re referring to people of similar age in every part of the world. And in saying “There are pioneers who opened the breach”, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t referring to underdeveloped Muslim countries. She then went on to describe her own lifestyle, so all in all I think it’s a fair assumption she had in mind the circumstances in France.

    “…yet I write about Western World issues like equal pay for equal work, workplace discrimination, and abortion law in the USA.”

    True again, but the first two issues were prefaced by “you may one day find” and “you may one day wish”, and the third was entirely speculative: “12 year-old rape victim in Midwest America who MIGHT die from a self-administered abortion gone wrong IF she can’t have access to safe, legal abortion.” And of course, IF she doesn’t choose instead to have the baby and adopt it out.

    I find that conditional language to be in stark contrast to the forceful declarative statements about conditions in Muslim countries, the discussion of which occupied by far the greater part of the article. On the basis of that forceful emphasis I feel entitled to write “largely unchallenged” in the Western World, so I hereby retract “completely unchallenged”!

    “I did not at any point criticise any young women about being “lazy and selfish and ungrateful” and at no point did I use these words.”

    To quote the article: “the rising cult of the individual…The thinking – lazy at best – goes like this….you dear, lucky girls…think outside your own comfortable existence”

    The word “lazy” did in fact appear, and I would argue that the words “selfish” and “ungrateful” were pretty well implied.

    “I didn’t “attack” anyone”
    Yes, “attack” a bit strong, I retract. I stand by “criticize” though.

    “feminism doesn’t “recruit”.
    I’m not up with feminist lingo but I stand by the word “recruit” in describing our purpose here. A couple of definitions I found: “to increase or maintain the number of (feminists)…to restore or increase the health, vigor, or intensity of (feminism)….to enlist new members”. As you say yourself, the result was “a rush of membership”.

    Anyway enough semantics from me, I’m glad everyone else found your piece persuasive Lucy. Now if you can only persuade my niece!

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Tony W

    “the nuns never stuffed sandwiches down my throat.”

    Haha, you’re lucky Janet, the nuns we had made us swallow every mouthful. Not only sandwiches, but also milk, which used to get delivered in small bottles, and everyone had to drink their bottle of milk at morning playtime. Sometimes they’d sit outside in the sun for hours before the milk monitor brought them in, and the milk curdled. Ever tried to drink warm curdled milk? And swallow every lump? The nuns didn’t care, they made us drink it anyway, we weren’t allowed outside until we’d handed in our empty bottle. Some kids could handle it, but others like me would take ages to get it all down, then we’d rush outside and throw up in the playground. I can still remember the white patches of vomit on the asphalt. All because we had to think of the starving children in the world!

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Rhoda

    My husband being Catholic would absolutely vouch for Tony’s description of nuns and school. He was rapped over the knuckles and more – beaten – as in assault with a deadly weapon – a cane. My mother though got through Catholic school unscathed. A matter of personality I expect and not only the personality of the victim.

    So back to our subject. I have been wondering whether the younger generation who have survived child care, divorce and all the rest want a bar of it for their kids. Think of all that back and forth in cars. Maybe that’s our answer.
    I read somewhere that GenY was looking for flexible working hours and family leave and some companies are offering it.

  • Reply December 1, 2012

    Tony W

    “A matter of personality I expect and not only the personality of the victim.”

    Very much so Rhoda, some of them were “real” nuns, ie. kind and gentle, and we were fond of them. Others were quite brutish, forever taking to us with the cane. It was a good initiation into the ways of the Marist brothers in secondary school. Most of them were thugs and bullies, but there were a few who rarely used the cane, and we liked and respected them. They were also much better teachers.

    Things were very bad at catholic boys schools in those days, however they were very different times back then, attitudes were much more authoritarian, eg. “children should be seen and not heard”, and “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Parents mostly went along with that, which meant that nuns and brothers were able to get away with murder. Fortunately all that thinking started to change after Dr. Spock and others in the ’70s.

    re younger generation of women – I’m certain you’re right about family disruption effecting attitudes. My niece has said as much to my sister – “I want to do it differently”. It’s quite hurtful because my sister did a tremendous job of raising her as a single mother. I often think it’s unfair that feminism gets blamed for family breakups, when in fact it was the introduction of no fault divorce circa 1975 that opened the floodgates. That had nothing to do with feminism, it was simply to free up the courts!

    It also has to be said that feminism tends to glorify the pursuit of career, eg. women in boardrooms etc., at the expense of women who choose family over career. It’s hard to avoid but it does tend to alienate them a bit.

    Obviously young women also want to distance themselves from the “man hater” perception around feminism. No young girl wants to start a relationship on that footing. Some of that tag was a backlash from men, but some of it was deserved, for example we were always hearing the old line “All men are bastards” in the ’80s. We even heard it from our wives and girlfriends when they were angry about something, but we’d just shrug it off with a laugh.

    I also believe there’s a lot of truth in what Lucy say’s about the cult of the individual. Young people have bought into the notion they can make it on their own if they’re good enough, ie. “The Power of One” and all that bullshit. Consequently they’re rejecting collective action, or solidarity as Lucy puts it. You can see it in plummeting union membership in recent times, as well as rejection of feminism. In fact, unionism these days is probably even more on the nose than feminism!

    I think in both cases there needs to be a more positive message, about the achievements of the past and the benefits for the future. We do need rousing calls for solidarity, like Lucy’s piece, but we also need to sell feminism and unionism on their merits.

  • Reply December 1, 2012

    Sue Bell

    I’m a Dr. Spock child, his writing was done in the 50′s, his political activism was in the 70′s.
    Have to admit we had a bully at primary school, she would threaten to beat you up if you did not give her that small bottle of curdling free milk, that you were desperate to get rid of. Having successfully bullied you for your milk she would then leave you alone for the rest of the day.
    Spock helped liberate parents from the relentless new science of bringing up baby by the clock and let them be free to enjoy their children, at the same time he taught both parents and children that they could question authority but must always be prepared to take responsibility for your actions, even if it was gaol for disobeying an unfair unacceptable law such as the conscription by lottery of the 60s and 70s. Spock was a feminist in his attitude to civil disobedience. His books are still well worth reading.

  • Reply December 1, 2012

    Tony W

    “she would threaten to beat you up if you did not give her that small bottle of curdling free milk”

    Haha, I wish someone had bullied me like that! There were always kids scrounging for extra milk but the nuns supervised us so we couldn’t slip it to them. Usually there were a couple of extra bottles in the crate so they’d get those. Very occasionally the crate would be short, because someone had pinched a few outside, so I always made sure I was at the back of the queue just in case! All that warm curdled milk and throwing up put me off milk for life, I still hate the stuff to this day.

    I shall read up on Spock, don’t know much about him, I just recall him being talked about for his “controversial” (!) views on child rearing. Very Interesting about children questioning authority, there was absolutely no possibility of that with the Marist brothers, they ruled with the cane and no one dared speak back to them. However I did challenge them with passive aggression, I’d hold out my hand for more after they’d given me six of the best on each hand, just to show them they hadn’t broken me. It drove them crazy!

  • Reply December 1, 2012

    sue Bell

    The Spock way was a great way to be brought up, we all talked around the table and children were expected to think about things and to air their own opinions. By the age of 8 I had given up saying the oath of allegiance at school assembly, stopped singing God Save The Queen and realised I did not believe in any gods. I knew that I could be in trouble but it was more important for me to follow my belief than to pretend to be like everyone else. Very liberating of thought but very difficult to go against adults in the 50s. It was fertile ground for fighting the establishment, the government, in the 60s and 70s. Spock’s writings in the 70s were considered controversial and led to his gaoling by the paranoid American government that’s why he is considered to be unsuitable to teach about bringing up children, but his teaching enabled children and parents to set their own moral compass and to be prepared to stand by their convictions no matter what the consequences . He really is worth reading Spock. Spock I am sure was in his heart, a feminist, he believed in equality and doing what you can do best not what others want you to be. There were no male and female moulds with Spock.

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    SMOKE AND MIRRORS

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  • Reply December 17, 2012

    Aussie Chick

    Lucky to be raised by a feminist father & mother, and proud to be a feminist who is:
    married;
    pregnant;
    employed; and
    have the option of paid (& even longer unpaid) maternity leave:
    – thanks to past & current feminists.

    I’m a feminist and I love (some) men! And (some) women! And pottering around the house! And cooking! And camping! And pretty dresses! And chopping wood!

    The only thing feminism is incompatible with is sexism.

  • Reply December 22, 2012

    Finnola

    Go to the bank … on your own. . Open your own account in your name. Put in your own money. Buy own House. Take out your own money. Yep… that damm feminist stuff again.

  • Reply December 23, 2012

    Racism Anyone?

    Lucy Clark goes after the usual target:

    “I have to say what so many feminists have been saying to privileged white men for decades: You just don’t get it.”

    No, apparently, we don’t. Why the plight of girls and women forcibly wed in Yemen, prostituted in Thailand and mutilated in Africa and the Middle East is the fault of “privileged white men” is beyond me.

  • Reply December 24, 2012

    Finnola

    What about Suffragettes? The International Womens Suffrage Alliance and other groups that pushed, died and succeeded?
    It is true ‘we’ don’t ‘need’ that movement any more. Their job is done.

    So it can be said we may not need ‘Feminism’ in itscurrent form or understanding – now that the issue of equaity is truly embedded into the social cutlure.

    Women now need the next stage –

    We need a new movement that protects ALL the past movements that have slowly edged women into a fair way of life. One that also takes up the next gauntlets and doesn’t drop the old ones.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    HeatherG

    Bruni would do well to pay more attention. Perhaps she could start reading blogs written by women in her country, such as this one (in English):

    http://totumfacere.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/rape-culture-in-france.html

    Clearly, feminism is still needed in her generation, in France.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    Rhoda

    I never identified a Muslim woman in my younger days and now I hardly ever go to a shopping mall without seeing one. I assume these women I see are migrants or their parents were. Do you not think the circumstances of their families and friends in the country of their birth is revelant to the conversation? That surprises me. The world is a small place these days. We are not living in the 50s and we have many ties to Muslim countries.

    In Carla Bruni’s France there is a large Muslim population. She reportedly prayed at an Islamic shrine on an official trip to India with her husband even though it was made clear she was not welcome as the girlfriend of Nicolas Sarkozy on a previous trip he made to India. I’m surprised she didn’t notice.

    We will get nowhere if we confine feminism to a country’s borders. It’s not just about us. It’s about all women.

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  • Reply March 14, 2013

    I FEEL BAD ABOUT VEAL

    [...] I’m Not a Feminist, But… [...]

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