If you haven’t heard, former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy told Vogue recently that she didn’t believe feminism was necessary anymore. Quote time:
“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 every day.”
Okay. Here’s the thing. I am eternally grateful to the suffragettes who marched and protested for the women’s vote. The questions they asked about the organization of their lives laid the groundwork for contemporary feminism. That being said, those early feminists were white, upper-class women whose main goal was suffrage (the right to vote). If you judge the completeness of the goals of feminism by those terms, they succeeded and all their work is finished.
But there’s more.
When all the white women were being hauled off to jail demanding the right to vote, Black women were in their homes, raising their children. They were too busy to consider resigning their underpaid jobs in protest of historic injustices. But over time, inspired by both their white sisters and the budding Civil Rights Movement, Black women began demanding their liberation, too.
But here’s the thing. It hasn’t been achieved yet. Sure, women have the right to go to college and get a job, but they’re expected to become professional superwomen who manage their domestic and their private lives (hello, remember this craziness?) Even in the professional sphere, women still make $0.70 to their male peers’ $1.00. Their careers are the ones derailed when they have children, and if they choose not to have children, they’re considered frigid or incomplete. Women are blamed for their rapes (“What were you wearing? Why were you walking around alone in the first place?”) and punished when those rapes result in pregnancies.
All these women’s issues (don’t get me started on that terminology — women are more than half of the population!) don’t even scratch the surface of the aims of contemporary feminism though. Feminists today are concerned with more than just women — it’s the subjugation of all people that they aim to eradicate.
Bruni-Sarkozy said in her interview that she supported gay rights. That’s an awfully feminist thing for her to say. LGBTQ equality is one of the main pillars of third wave feminism because it demands equal treatment of minorities – and that goes for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, working-class, middle-class, prisoners, rape victims, and transgender people. Just to name a few.
Finally, she said she loves family life, that she loves staying home and doing the same thing every day. And that is wonderful. The original suffragettes fought for the ability to work outside the home, but what they were really fighting for was the choice. Feminism is about empowerment. It’s about questioning the powers that be and dismantling systems of oppression that no one ever questions. It’s about loving all humans equally.
So yeah, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, I disagree with you. I love your music, but I think you’re really off on this one.