10 Fascinating French Feminist Resources

It will soon be le 8 mars (= March 8), which also happens to be La Journée internationale des droits des femmes (= International Women’s Rights Day).
To honor the day and celebrate, I wanted to give you some resources that will help you discover the French point of view on common women’s issues.

This is the second part of my lesson from last year.

Click here to watch the first lesson “6 Awesome Feminist Books in French“: you’ll find some ideas for some shorter, lighter francophone books about feminism.

Today I picked different formats of francophone resources for you: podcasts, blogs, short books, long books…

Some even have an English translation!

Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson
→ Discover new feminist resources in French

Bonjour c’est Géraldine, Bienvenue sur Comme une Française. C’est parti !

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1) La charge mentale

La charge mentale (= the mental load) is a current French feminist issue.
It was brought into the limelight in May 2017 by a blog post / comic strip called Fallait Demander (= You should have asked), by the blogger Emma.

Click here to read “Fallait demander” the original blog post / comic
Click here to read “You should’ve asked” the English version

This was le point de départ (= the starting point) for a huge conversation in France, and the spread of the concept of “la charge mentale.”

This comic strip was later published in Emma’s second anthology “Un autre regard – tome 2” (= Another point of view, part 2).

2) Libérées

Libérées – Le combat féministe se gagne devant le panier de linge sale (= Freed women! The feminist fight is won in front of the dirty laundry basket) is a book by French woman Titou Lecoq.

Click here to find out more about “Libérées”

It’s full of very down-to-earth ideas, practical advice and insights into a couple’s dynamics.

I read it in two days and had a mini meltdown in the middle: it made me realize a lot of things I never thought about! It was a big breakthrough, and my friends keep borrowing it still.

It dives into what’s expected of us, women, and what we put on ourselves: why do we think this way, in our home life?

It’s written in a more colloquial, oral French language, and gives you the French point of view on recent events and social behaviours.

3) Crêpe Georgette

Crêpe Georgette is a very famous feminist blog. I feel like I was the last woman in France to find out about it…

It’s a great reference! The blog is full of deep, document posts about French news. There are in-depth explanations and insightful posts.

Its author is Valérie Rey-Robert, who’s been a feminist for 20 years.
Click here to follow Valérie Rey-Robert on Twitter.

She also wrote a book on rape culture, which I talk about below.

4) Une culture du viol à la française

Une culture du viol à la française (= A French rape culture), written by Valérie Rey-Robert, founder of the Crêpe Georgette blog, is a book subtitled «Du troussage de domestique » à la « liberté d’importuner ». (Keep reading for the full translation.)

The book came out last week and I bought it on Saturday. So I haven’t finished it yet…

But I can already tell it’s fascinating! It’s extremely good and thorough. The text is based on US research and how it relates to French society and history.

It’s a very dense book, with studies and insights – I don’t want to rush it, but I can recommend it. It’s for a very advanced French level, though.

Le truc en + :
This subtitle is complicated to explain, but I like the challenge.

So, “Troussage de domestique” is a disdainful expression for “having sex with a housemaid.” It’s an allusion to an older, common custom of upper-class men having their way with their employees – where of course, the housemaid consent or lack thereof is an afterthought…

This expression downplays the crime, and frames the act as both manly and inconsequential, like a banal trope out of an XIXth century comedy play.

Here, it’s a cultural reference. A famous French newspaper editor used “troussage de domestique” to describe the rape accusation from a hotel employee against French center-left leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011 – when he was still seen as a likely winner for the 2012 presidential election.
The expression is like a relic from the past, still coming up in the XXIth century for the same cases of powerful men taking what they want.

La liberté d’importuner” (= the freedom to bother) is a striking expression that comes from an early-2018 manifesto written by women who were worried that the “Balance ton porc” (= Snitch your pig = #MeToo) movement would prevent men to “bother” (or hit on) women ever again – and also included compassion for men masturbating at women on the metro.

That was a lot to unpack, including the fact that famous (and still the best!) actress Catherine Deneuve signed that manifesto – but she later claimed she hadn’t read it in detail.

The expression is a sign of something “new,” where perceptions have shifted somewhat, in a confluence of social media, earlier feminine icons, new voices, and the struggle still ahead.

5) La poudre

La poudre (= the powder) is a podcast by Lauren Bastide, a French journalist.
She gives interviews of French women.

It’s a fantastic way to hear about great women – in everyday French language, so it’s good practice too!

She interviewed women such as Pénélope Bagieu, author of Les culottées (“Brazen” in English) that I recommended in last year’s lesson : click here to listen to Pénélope Bagieu’s interview

You should also check out her interview with Aïssa Maïga, a French actress.

6) Noire n’est pas mon métier

Speaking of Aïssa Maïga, in 2018 she also published the essay Noire n’est pas mon métier (= “Black” is not my job).

Click here to check out “Noire n’est pas mon métier”

In this work, Maïga united the voices of sixteen black actresses. They share their personal stories about the racism they had to endure in the world of contemporary French cinema, the stereotypes they’re often relegated to, and the problems they still face.

I have to be honest with you: I only heard about this last week! So I haven’t read this essay yet – but I booked it at my local public library to read it soon. I didn’t want to wait another year to tell you about it!

7) Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir is a starting point for feminism in modern society. She was a French intellectual and a huge feminist icon.

She wrote Le Deuxième Sexe (= The Second Sex), one of the first modern feminist manifesto, and a great read. I already talked about Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille Rangée (= Memories of a well-behaved girl) – if you’re into French literature, read them! I have all her “Mémoires” at home, and I love these books.

Another book of hers you can read is the lesser-known “Lettres à Nelson Algren” (= Letters to Nelson Algren) – a dive into her personal life, a way to learn about the strange, smart, imperfect, real person behind the intellectual icon.

8) Dialogues

Dialogues are the real life conversations between Geneviève de Gaulle Anthonioz (general Charles de Gaulle’s niece) and her friend Germaine Tillion.
Both women were arrested as des résistantes (= they were part of “la résistance” in World War II), and sent to the deportation camp in Ravensbrück.

This book really shows what women can do. Geneviève de Gaulle was only 20 when she was arrested, and her courage and determination really are admirable.
It’s a short, powerful read.

9) Écoutez-les

To go back to lighter recommendations:
Écoutez-les (= Listen to them!) is a Twitter account that gives a daily recommendation of a French feminist podcast. It can be useful!

It’s curated by a French doctor whose Twitter I really like as well – she goes by the handle of “Docteure Couine.”

10) Books by women

This last resource is a resource on resources!

It’s a mailing list, curated by a female French librarian. Twice per month, you’ll get recommendation of books by women, in French. (French books, or foreign-language books translated into French.)

I love it!

You can read a sample here, and subscribe at the bottom of the bottom:
Click here to check out “Books by Women”

Et toi ?

→ Which one of these resources are you most curious about?

Let me know your recommendations in the comments below, too!

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And now:
→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Allez, salut 🙂

Join the conversation!

  • J’ai trouvé Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille
    Rangée de Simone de Beauvoir sur
    Amazon France où j’ai feuilleté les premières
    quelques pages pour chercher un petit peu
    ce qu’il y a dedans. Ça m’intéresse beaucoup,
    et je vais l’ajouter à mon kindle.
    Merci Géraldine ~ une leçon super géniale.

  • Merci beaucoup Géraldine
    Votre leçon est très utile et je ne décide pas qui je préfère.
    Bonne journée

  • Une présentation bien valable, je te remercie pour tout ce que tu as partagé, Géraldine. Je lis souvent beaucoup de livres de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, surtout les romans historiques basés sur la réalité, les histoires humaines, etc. en France entre 1939-45….du coup, je viens de commander Dialogues! Merci mille fois pour ton travail et la richesse de ce que tu choisis pour tes émissions. Tu es formidable.

  • Une présentation bien valable, je te remercie pour tout ce que tu as partagé, Géraldine. Je lis souvent beaucoup de livres de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, surtout les romans historiques basés sur la réalité, les histoires humaines, etc. en France entre 1939-45….du coup, je viens de commander Dialogues! Merci mille fois pour ton travail et la richesse de ce que tu choisis pour tes émissions. Tu es formidable.

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