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 Post commentator Mette Poynton did her lolly with excitement, in capitals: “All I could think was YES YES YES! I applaud her for being one of the few who dares to be honest about loving to be a wife and a mother, being honest about not feeling the need to be a feminist.”
The headline was “Feminism is Over” and Poynton, who happily enjoys an equitable division of domestic duties in her double-income hardworking home in middle class America, declared that she could be “a traditional sort of woman AND a businesswoman”? (while failing to take note that you can be a feminist and a loving wife and mother, but that’s another story.)
“The feminist’s fight,” she wrote, “Is over.”
I wonder if they read the Huffington Post in Kandahar? Can you get Vogue on the newsstands there?
On the weekend a friend of mine said her two daughters – approaching the age of 20 – would not identify as feminists because they know implicitly that in this day and age they can do whatever they want in life.
Strangely, they had also heard of Malala Yousafzai (pictured right), the 14 year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for protesting for girls’ rights to education, and they could not connect the two items in their heads.
This made me think of of the old line: “I’m not a feminist, but…”
Whatever happened to solidarity? Has the rising cult of the individual obliterated our ability to think beyond our own experience?
The thinking – lazy at best – goes like this: “I’ve never been discriminated against, therefore I have no need to call myself a feminist.”
I have to say what so many feminists have been saying to privileged white men for decades: You just don’t get it.
Feminism is not only for you, you dear, lucky girls, although you may one day find you would like to be paid the same amount of money as the man beside you doing the same work.
Feminism is not only for you, although you may one day wish your boss didn’t overlook you for promotion because you are 30 and might go off and have a baby any minute.
Feminism is for the pre-pubescent girls in Yemen being married to fifty year-old men.
Feminism is for the seven and eight year-old girls in Thailand being sold into sexual slavery.
Feminism is for the women of Saudi Arabia who aren’t allowed to drive cars without a male chaperone.
Feminism is for the women in Tahrir Square fighting for their freedoms which, now under the Muslim Brotherhood, may be reduced even further.
Feminism is for the girl whose parents threw acid over her and watched her take three days to die because she dared to look at a boy, bringing shame on her family.
Feminism is for the 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.
Feminism is for the girls being held down while they have their clitoris and labia cut off.
Feminism is for Malala Yousafzai.
As I was writing this, an email dropped into my inbox from Equality Now, a US women’s rights group that acts tirelessly in the fight to end violence and discrimination against women around the globe.
The subject heading was: “An 11 year-old bride? Act now to end child marriage.” The group is working with partners in Yemen and Saudi Arabia to raise the legal age of marriage for girls. All I had to do was click on a form letter to add my name to the fight.
It has never been easier to be an active feminist. The internet is tailor-made for low energy-output activism. You don’t have to get off your bum, take to the streets, strike a match and burn your bra. You don’t have to get a piece of paper, rummage around for a pen and wonder what the address of the Saudi government is.
All you have to do is think outside your own comfortable existence, move the mouse, and click. It’s easy work for a job far, far from done.
Feminism is not over, although it is a movement fervently wishing for its own demise.
But while millions of women the world over are being abused, tortured, suppressed, sold, and married off at the age of 11 we still need it, desperately.
Not. Dead. Yet.