A feminist? Or not?

To listen to this post in French, click below


I can’t resist sharing this bit of pleasure with you. My blog was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal on June 26th. As I am not a subscriber, I would never have known if it were not for Steve Garfield who was kind enough to mention it to me and to send me a copy of the article.


Just finished reading Ronni’s great post: Elder Feminist Bloggers and the interesting comments it elicited.
Elder, certainly, blogger, probably, feminist? I probably called myself that when younger, but not any longer, I think. Being almost 62, I belong to the generation of women which Ronni calls a transitional generation.
Yes, what people expected from women when I was young was to see them marry, have children and care for them.
BUT, my father, probably a feminist before the term had been coined always told me that a woman had to be able to fend for herself. That she shouldn’t depend on her husband, and he certainly encouraged me as much as he could to get a job and be independent. He was probably quite aware that his mother, who had no job, had been all alone to take care of her children when her husband left her.

Then I was in my last year of highschool in an all-girl highschool, I remember our Maths teacher asking us what we were going to do when we graduated and only a handful of us talked about getting a job. It turned out that most of them did get a job, but it was not what they had in mind at the time. Their heads were full of romance, getting married, having children and living happily ever after.
I couldn’t even imagine myself married or having children. When I thought of my future, I thought of myself as some kind of Simone de Beauvoir, or Alexandra David-Neel, women who were role models to me. I would probably have loved to see myself as Marie Curie, had I not been hopeless at sciences.
But married, certainly not! And children intimidated me and I thought of babies as awful crawling little pieces. There were even times when I thought I was slightly unbalanced in that respect 😉 Maybe I was.
Anyway, I did get a job, became a teacher –the last thing I ever wanted to do, but as soon as I started teaching, I loved it.
Just the same, I did get married, loved it and loved having a baby, when my daughter was born.

My generation was lucky enough to surf in the period just between the Pill and AIDS, so our life was pretty easy in that respect. And like a lot of women in my time, I marched, petitioned for women’s right to contraception, abortion, career etc. We paved the way for our daughters to have an easier life, but so did a lot of men, including my husband. I always wanted to be WITH men, not against them, as long as they were for women’s equality of rights.
We are far, in this country, from having achieved equality of treatment. Edith Cresson, our only woman Prime Minister ever, was quite ill-treated by the press and her fellow politicians, when she was appointed. Even the Wikipedia article I pointed to, looked pretty mysogynistic to me. In the 21st century, French society still suffers from deeply-rooted mysogyny.
Enough rambling. I definitely hate mysoginy and mysoginistic people, be they men or women, but will not call myself an elder feminist blogger. Just an elder woman blogger.

Like every other post on this blog, all the code used was taught to me by Meg at MandarinDesign who sadly passed away and who I already miss a lot.


8 thoughts on “A feminist? Or not?

  1. thank you, claude, for a very rich post. i fell into your history with all
    its early memories and evocative photos…wonderful journey. have to return
    to learn about alexandra david-neel, a new name for me.

  2. Do you know what the Wall Street Journal said, i.e., the context in which your blog was mentioned? Because only online subscribers (my former company was one, but I don’t have the password anymore) can view archived editions. Just curious.

  3. (post-edit)

    That’s wonderful! I only ever read the WSJ online at work to harvest economic data, but now I see they’ve branched out 🙂 It’s great that Steve scanned this for you.

  4. Claude ..Thanks for the post with the link to the WSJ and the article about you and your blog.
    It is facinating to know “Blogging in Paris” is recognized as one of the most interesting
    blogs around.

    You combine lovely prose and great photos and descriptions that make me want to be in Paris once again.

  5. Felicitations! What a wonderful article about you and your blog.
    You should be very proud of that.
    And your father…he sounded like an extremely wise man.
    Bravo to him as well.

  6. Hello Dear Claude.
    What a well-deserved kudo. I’m so happy more people will have the chance to discover this wonderful site.
    Your reflections on feminism were very thoughtful and made me laugh when it came to the description of your father as a feminist. I guess my father was too. At least he believed the women in our family could and should make the living! I never imagined I wouldn’t have to take care of myself and so of course married a man just like dear old dad. But that’s another story—and one that probably doesn’t need to be told!

    Still so sad about Michelle. What a loss of talent and heart.

  7. Congrats. on the WSJ recognition for you and your blog, Claude. Those of us who come here already knew how great it is! Haven’t had a chance to read what was said, but I surely will. Just think, not too long ago, I believe I recall you thinking you might “fold your blog tent,” or at least that you had run out of material. I continue to be glad you are still blogging.

    I’m not always clear on the ages included in the “transitional” age group, but think of myself as a member, at age 70 now. I, too, had rather untraditional views on marriage and having children, beginning when I was a mere child myself.

    I was unequivocable that I would never marry, but that if by some fluke I did, I would certainly never bring any children into this world. I was firm in my stance until my mid-twenties when I gradually evolved over a several year period into thinking “maybe” on marriage, then at age 27 took the step.

    I also concluded that if I was to marry, having children was an “occupational hazard,” that I was willing to risk and could accept happening. When I unexpectedly found myself about to enter into the role of mother, I threw myself wholeheartedly into the experience; loving every minute (well, most, if you can overlook the diapers.) I even repeated that experience, again unexpected, but with no less enthusiasm.

    As I have shared on TGB, I have always supported the major goals of feminism, have identified myself as a feminist. I learned very early that to receive serious consideration for acceptance of feminist goals, in an effort to influence others, I always have to clarify the definition of what I believe true feminism is and what it is not.

    For example, I can never condemn men as a generalized group, nor women who choose to be wives and mothers primarily and yet large elements of the feminist group seem to have done that, and may still.
    I don’t condemn feminists as a generalized group either, as I’m sure there are a number who think as I do, but I don’t seem to hear much from them as their cohorts seem to be shouting them down.

    The abrasive radical voices of too many feminists have fouled the water, so that the majority of men and women reject their views in total. I would suggest that when they finally realize they are accomplishing little or nothing toward their goals, they might want to reassess their philosophy and techniques. They also might want to examine how they can become more inclusive, and dispense with thinking exclusveness is a moral badge of honor. Divisiveness will get them nowhere.

    Regrettably, many extremist feminists have prostituted the word, with over-emphasis on lesser matters which serve only as divisive means to dilute the broader more important goals, thus sapping energy, needlessly and wastefully, from the potential of what could be accomplished for all individuals, men and women.

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