My article on March 8th received an overwhelming echo so I thought I would share it with my English-speaking friends. Special thanks to Elyssa!
…and let me know: are you in favor of an English version of this blog?
There is an uneasiness in the air today. It is the 8th of March – International Woman’s Day.
We hear words of struggle for the defense of rights and women’s equality. We revisit feminism’s great victories and those victories that have yet to come. We shed light on “good” feminism, which is a feminism of the state, an ultra moralistic feminism. A feminism that compares women to men, that prioritizes equality, and holds out men as the ideal model.
This is not the feminism we want.
Of course, there exist legitimate and important efforts to ensure respect for the dignity and freedom of women; however, these movement say nothing about women, about their power and the sign that women can be in our society. This is the real issue at hand.
Thanks to contraception, the emblem of the prevailing form of feminism, women are able to suppress their cycle, their moods, and their pain. Liberated from the vexations of their female body, they can be just like their male counterparts at work. Contraception has resulted in an increase in the number of women in the workforce. And so we have morphed into pale reflections of the men we seek to mimic. How is it possible for women to compete with men? You will agree with me that a copy is and always will be inferior to the original.
What about if the strength of women resided elsewhere? And if their power was different? Maybe then we could escape this power game in which they will always loose.
There must be another way. We must find another way. And we will find it by looking at and listening to women: what are they telling us? What are they pointing toward? What are the domains in which they exercise their power? And what power are we talking about?
I am looking for an answer to these questions.
In my quest, I had the opportunity to meet three extraordinary women who are feminist icons in my eyes. These women are neither intellectuals trapped in the realm of ideology, nor activists who exist only for the struggle. These are women who so rightly bear the title of “mid-wife” (note: literally translates to “wise-woman” in French). These are the women who accompanied me in Paris, Brussels and New York as I gave birth to my children.
Their wisdom comes from listening to women. On each of my monthly visits while pregnant they would ask me: “How are you? How do you feel?” They would take the time to listen attentively to my fears, my worries, and my joys. At the moment of each childbirth they would say the same words: “Have confidence. You know better than anyone how to give birth to this child. Listen: move, shout, sing however you’d like. You are capable”. During these deliveries, these look full of emotion, respect and amazement were upon me: “You are amazing! You are magnificent!” These women transformed me and literally “empowered” me to use the overused word.
Trust women, invite them to listen to themselves and let them express their power: this is feminism!
I do not know yet what my feminism will be — I will share it soon. But I do know from where I draw my inspiration—these women. They know. They know the answers to my questions.