Among the more high-profile women who seem frustratingly unwilling to grasp what feminism actually is, the former French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy — who garnered criticism when she told Vogue Paris last year that the country didn't need feminism anymore and that she herself wasn't a feminist — discussed the kerfuffle in yesterday's long profile from The Guardian but basically said the same stuff she said in her old clarification.
"I said I'm not a feminist, meaning I'm not a militant. Because I'm not! I'm not very militant about anything. Either you're militant or you're not. I just said I admire the feminists, but I'm not myself a feminist because many women who came before me gave us rights. I'm allowed not to be, right? I never was politically militant, never socially militant, you know. I'm a bubble person. At home with my guitar, reading a poem. I'm not militant. I know I should be, but I'm not. I'm not someone who would go and fight for something."
Of course, one can be a feminist whether you're playing the guitar or reading a poem or pooping or listening to "99 Luftbaloons" on repeat, but that goes without saying.
What's even more striking is that Sarkozy displays such ambivalence/emotional defeat in the rest of the profile that you can't help but feel sorry for her, even though she's a member of the self-declared bourgeoise. It's the old sterotypical bird-in-a-gilded-cage story, I guess. For someone who could be (or at least could have been while Sarkozy was president) an instrumental force of French women's rights—not that they need much help—she's at ease (or at least pretending to be) with her powerlessness as a former First Lady both then and now.
"There is no way to be funny any more. Fun doesn't really work with this kind of position, so I couldn't play around – and me, I like a lot to play around for fun, you know? I don't take it very seriously. I mean, I take life very seriously, but not myself or the situation."
For instance, here's how she discussed the weight-shaming she experienced in French tabloids after giving birth to her daughter Giulia:
"I just said, 'Oh well.' I was tired, I was fat, I felt fragile and vulnerable – and every woman would be the same. But [the journalist] probably wanted to write something new, and I understand that. I don't fight systems. I never go against the system."
This provides a pretty significant contrast to the British Royal Family's legal battle over the topless shots of Kate Middleton (incidentally, taken by a French tabloid), something that Bruni-Sarkozy is in a unique position to fight against. However, Bruni-Sarkozy — a musician herself, who dated Mick Jagger and then Eric Clapton before wedding the French president — does display a thoughtful candidness about men and art that signifies that she does think about gendered issues.
"They're not used to being muses, men. They're used to being the artist. The minute you put them in the muse position, they go: what? Especially Latins. [...] See? I am a feminist! This is a feminist act, to write a song about your man. Of course it is feminist, because what is more free than that?"
'Carla Bruni: Sarkozy And Me' [The Guardian]
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