The Turning Point of Feminism

Against the Effacement of Women
  • Sylviane Agacinski


In France today women are in the process of taking feminism to a turning point. By demanding, with parité, the de facto sharing of political responsibilities, they are clearly rejecting the nondifferentialist ideology that, despite equal rights, preserves the ever-persistent male monopoly of power. Parité is not a way of letting nature “dictate law” (we know full well that nature itself never “dictates”); rather, it is a way of giving meaning to human existence characterized by sexual difference (sexué). Nature has never founded anything: neither the past hierarchy of the sexes, nor the present demand for their equality All this is political through and through. Nevertheless, the fact that human beings are characterized by their sex (sexué), that they are born boys or girls, that they can become fathers or mothers (but not both at the same time: such is the constraint of the dichotomy of the sexes) is not political—despite what Judith Butler and some others have said.1


Sexual Difference Turning Point French Woman Singular Model Universal Difference 
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  1. 1.
    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1990).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Joan Scott, Only Paradoxes to Offer (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Quoted in Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H. M. Parshley (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), xx.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Françoise Héritier, Masculin/féminin: la pensée de la différence (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1996).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See in particular Blandine Kriegel, Philosophie de la République (Paris: Plon, 1998).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans. Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest Schoepf (New York: Basic Books, 1963), 47–48.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    See Evelyne Pisier’s “PACS et Parité: du même et de l’autre,” Le Monde (October 20, 1998).Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Sylviane Agacinski, Lapolitique des sexes (Paris: Seuil, 1996).Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    This change was set in motion in particular by Antoinette Fouque. See Il y a deux sexes: essais de féminologie, 1989–1995 (Paris: Gallimard, 1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Roger Célestin, Eliane DalMolin, Isabelle de Courtivron 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylviane Agacinski

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