My thesis for a Master of Arts in French from Bowling Green State University in 2003:

ABSTRACT

This thesis examines French feminism, using the recent parity debate and the literature it produced as a lens, in an attempt to reveal the dominant discourses of French feminism and the particular place of women in the French Republic.  In contrast to the standard portrayal of French feminism outside of France as radically obsessed by difference, the dominant discourses of French feminism are characterized by a diversity of arguments on the nature of women.  These conceptions of women range from difference as natural and essential to difference as the result of social or historical construction.  Because there is no agreement among feminists on the nature of women, there is also no consensus on what constitutes equality and parity and whether or not each is desirable.  Positions on these issues are shaped by the Republican concept of equality.  This lack of accord hinders collective action, but it did not prevent feminists from achieving the adoption of laws on parity.  This examination also reveals that the current marginalization of women in the political sphere in France and the response of feminists are the result of a long history of exclusion of women in France and the reactions of feminists to that exclusion.  Feminists are also guided in their response by Republican ideas of representation.  However, although they agree that the Republican ideal fails to recognize that sex currently has a negative interpretation for political participation, they do not agree on how to change that interpretation or what the political interpretation of sex should be.

La Moitie Feminine

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