mardi 26 mai 2009

Feminist themes in french fiction : the example of “Trois hommes et un couffin” by Coline Serreau (1982)

On the contrary to what men usually think, feminism is not against them. In fact, the freedom of women leads to a new way of thinking about them, and not necessarily a bad way. The purpose of feminist movements is not to emasculate men, but to help them to find a new place in society ; feminists ask for men the right to wish to have a child, to love him, to be stressed for him...

It is exactly the theme of “Trois hommes et un couffin”. If this film is not feminist, it talks about quite an unexplored theme in cinema : the feeling of fatherhood. It is one of the first movies to show men confronted to some problems, which everybody considers as “mothers’ problems” : how to change nappies, what to do when the baby cries... It breaks with the cliches “Men don’t have to worry about these sorts of problems, they just bring the money, they don’t have to be tender...” This movie shows sensitive men (what a horrible thing!) and allows men to love their children.

Coline Serreau did some very feminist movies (documentaries and fictions) like “Mais qu’est-ce qu’elles veulent?” (1973) or “Chaos” (2001). In “Trois hommes et un couffin”, she is not militant anymore, but chooses discreet themes instead of provocation.

mardi 12 mai 2009


I write this article to answer Stacey’s question : why was 1975 the Year of the Woman ? First of all, it was not just a French initiative, it was an international decision. The UN decreed 1975 Year of the Woman, answering the national feminist movements. This year was dedicated to intensive actions for women’s rights all over the world. The main theme was : “equality between man and woman, development and peace”. UN decided also that the 8th March will be the international Woman's Day.
You can imagine how these feminist groups liked this... First, they fought a lot against the idea of The Woman, and now the international community decided to celebrate Her? Obviously, there were (and are) only men in the UN... It was a patriarchal initiative, as if men have said : “Poor women, we have to help them!”. For these women, who fought by themselves for their rights, rejecting the idea of women’s weakness against men’s strength, this was an unbearable idea.
The feminists answer the UN with one of their favorite ways : parody. The MLF published in its own newspaper a quiz for women ; they answer the questions and know if they are the “ideal woman” (for men of course). You can read this very funny article here
The group “Les insoumuses”, led by Delphine Seyrig and Carole Roussopoulos, made a movie called “Maso et Miso vont en bateau”, to answer Bernard Pivot’s emission at the end of the 1975 year, called “L’année de la femme, ouf! c’est fini.” He invited Françoise Giroud, State Secretary of the feminine condition, and it was a surrealist show. Pivot interviewed some political or “important” men, each more chauvinist than the others (Jacques Martin, Pierre Bellemare, Marcel Julian...). Françoise Giroud, who was asked to react to what she heard in these interviews, had amazingly stupid answers like : “There are women who liked chauvinist men” or “Women behave like persecuted persons.” “Les Insoumuses” made this parodic movie to make fun of her, who is supposed to represent them, (she is “Maso”) and of the men (they are “Miso”). You can watch a too short extract of this amazing movie, and you understand the tone of it :

samedi 2 mai 2009

"Réponse de femmes" by Agnès Varda

In 1975, it was the Year of the Woman. Antenne 2 asked seven female filmmakers the question : “How does it feel to be a woman?”. They had to answer with a seven-minute movie. Agnès Varda chose to answer with the cine-leaflet “Réponses de femmes”. It is a possible answer concerning women’s bodies and the feminine condition. In this short movie, women, from female children to old women, chat about sex, desire, advertising and children (to have some or not) : “our object-body, our taboo-body, our body with or without children, our sex, etc...”. How can we experience our body? How can we experience our sex? On a white set, women, dressed or naked, try to answer the question “What is a woman?”. One answers: “To be a woman is to be born in a female body”. Nothing more, no idea of feminine essence, or predisposition to motherhood, ideas against which the feminist movement was struggling. A pregnant and naked woman, dancing and laughing loud, made a lot of viewers react : Antenne 2 got a lot of written reproaches.

This cine-leaflet was aired on Antenne 2 the 23rd of June 1975. It was also nominated to Cesars 76, category documentary short-movie.