Rose Gilroy: Constructing “French Feminism.”

wall that says "Maison des femmes"

Since I returned from France in June I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the construction of “French feminism” in America. When I first planned this project, I thought it would be a way for me to deepen my knowledge of the French feminist theory I’ve read in American women’s studies classes by going to France and speaking to experts on feminism in France. However, I soon realized that the “French feminism” we are exposed to in the United States is not representative of the feminist movement in France — and understanding how and why American academics constructed “French feminism” became the focus of my project. IMG_9332

So, I’ve spent a lot of time this summer reading about the construction of “French feminism” by American academics, as well as reading the academic papers that many point to as the genesis of French feminist theory in the United States. Unsurprisingly, I’ve begun to reexamine at the “French feminism” I’ve been exposed to in different women’s studies classes, as well as my understanding of the women’s movement in France. In my last post I wrote that I was still trying to figure out what “French feminism” is, and now I’m realizing that it’s not something I will be able to fully understand by the end of this summer — or ever, for that matter.


Right now, I’m trying to make connections between my studies of the construction of “French feminism” and the current feminist movement in France — a movement I would also never call myself an expert on since I’ve only experienced snippets of it first hand. I mentioned in my last post that I attended an event at a feminist bookstore in Paris about the Riot Grrrl movement. This made me wonder, while there is a clear construction of “French feminism” in the U.S., is part of this newfound interest with Riot Grrrl in France (the movement did not exist outside the U.S.) part of the construction of a similar “American feminism” in France? It’s questions like these that I hope will help me connect my project — which has such a heavy focus on now-dated feminist theory — with present-day themes.