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Christiane Taubira & Feminism

Christiane Taubira is a French politician from the overseas department of French Guiana. She was minister of Justice from 2012 to 2016 and was instrumental in the law authorizing same sex marriage in France. She’s very literate, in love with literature in general and poetry in particular. Toni Morrison is one of her favorite writers because they share the heavy history of slavery and of the oppression of women.

She was invited by the director of the theatre festival in Avignon. He asked her to pick literature excerpts to make a performance during the festival. She accepted and she gave an interview to Télérama at the end of June to talk about the festival, her immense love for literature, her opinion that a politician should always be literate and rely on books to learn new things and keep in touch with the society. She’s a vibrant feminist and I wanted to share her answer to this question about the texts she selected for the show.

Journaliste: Sur quels thèmes portent les textes que vous avez choisis?

Sur les femmes, notamment: leur regard sur la planète, leurs conquêtes, ou les formes de discriminations qu’elles subissent. L’inégalité hommes-femmes est à mes yeux la matrice de toutes les discriminations. Une fois celle-ci éliminée, les autres –fondées sur des préjugés ou des faits culturels– s’écrouleront. Tant que nous n’aurons pas installé psychologiquement et intellectuellement cette nécessaire égalité au sein de nos sociétés, tant que les lois et les faits toléreront le sexisme, nous donnerons prise aux autres inégalités…

My translation:

Journalist: What do the texts you picked talk about?

About women, among other things. About their vision of our planet, their conquests, or the kind of discrimination they suffer from. Inequality between men and women is the mother of all inequalities. Once this one is eradicated, the others– based on prejudice or on cultural facts– will crumble. As long as we have not psychologically and intellectually settled this necessary equality in our societies, as long as laws and facts will tolerate sexism, there will be room for all the other inequalities…

Thought-provoking, isn’t it?

  1. July 29, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Now I am thinking, why don’t we have a woman expressing similar thoughts here in Australia? Is it because there isn’t such a woman, or because such a woman wouldn’t admit to being keen on literature, or because the media has never invited such a woman to have her say, or because such a woman has never demanded the opportunity?

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    • July 29, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      Christian Taubira belonged to the previous government but it’s not unusual to have literate politicians.

      The new one is rather literary: President Macron reads a lot, the Prime Minister has written crime fiction books (I’ll read one someday, out of curiosity) and the Minister of Culture used to be the head of a very good publishing house. (Actes Sud) I don’t think it plays such a big role in the way they do politics but at least, they have a better vocabulary than a toddler and stay away from vulgarity.

      Christiane Taubira has an interesting life story. She comes from French Guiana, from a working class family, she’s black and she’s a woman. She was not programmed to be part of the “establishment” and yet she became Minister of Justice. You can’t imagine what she had to endure during the discussions about the law on same sex marriage. It was shameful, really.

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 30, 2017 at 6:21 am

        We do have male politicians here in Australia who’ve been unashamedly literary, but no women….

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        • July 31, 2017 at 6:31 pm

          That’s strange. Do they see it as a weakness in male’s world?

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  2. July 29, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    It does make you think. although Without seeing the whole of her speech i dont know why she believes gender inequality is the most important to tackle. Couldnt it also be argued if we eradicate inequality based on skin colour all others would follow?

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    • July 29, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      The rest of the article is about other topics.

      I understand that for her, treating women properly and with equality will ensure an indispensable first step. Once this is settled, the society has a solid background of equality between sexes and will be less likely to accept other injustices. For me, her idea is that actual equality between men and women will change the ADN of a society and prepare it to go further against all inequalities.

      Women are the most numerous population suffering from discrimination. It’s a fight that is valid everywhere and creates a positive culture of respect for others. This is why I think she sees things this way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. August 1, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    While I don’t think it at all follows that abolishing one inequality would necessarily lead to the abolition of others, I do think the point that women are the most numerous population suffering from discrimination is a good one. I also think there’s a long tradition in many movements of asking women to wait until we’ve first all solved some other pressing issue – today we have to fight the establishment, but once we’ve done that we’ll look at the treatment of women! Somehow there always seems to be some other struggle taking preference, the men pontificating on change while the women are expected to manage their lives for them.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying that while I don’t entirely agree with her, actually I do agree with her. Anyway, intelligent and thought provoking stuff. I rather wish British politicians had an ounce of culture. I’d take one of them watching a box set TV series at this point – it would be asking too much for an interest in literature.

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    • August 1, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      I agree with your point about women being asked to wait until more important problems are solved.

      I think that what she means is more like a “Maslow pyramid” thing : a society that’s not even able to treat their women the same way as they treat their men has no chance to achieve any other kind of equality.

      Don’t British politicians go to fancy schools like Oxford? I imagined they did and I assumed it meant a certain level of culture.

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      • September 1, 2017 at 4:50 pm

        A rather late response, but while British politicians do mostly go to places like Oxford, sadly they mostly manage to do so without acquiring any culture of any kind. I think it’s something about the kind of people who succeed in politics; they tend not to have much else to them.

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        • September 2, 2017 at 8:30 am

          I’m really late at answering this time around too. Usually August is a rather quiet month in the office for me but this year, I’m already drowning. It doesn’t bode well for my upcoming blogging months.

          I didn’t think you could even enter Oxford without a strong cultural background. Is it more about who you know than what you know?

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