New French Feminisms: An Anthology

By Elaine Marks; Isabelle De Courtivron | Go to book overview
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Catherine Clément

Taking a stand as a woman. Every woman, in due course, arrives at that particular consciousness -- sooner or later according to the complexities of her own biography. Every woman intellectual working more or less within language is currently solicited, stimulated, awakened at every turn; exasperated or exhilarated, she must finally, come what may, begin to think. Everything that had been, to a greater or lesser degree, suppressed by defense mechanisms is now submitted to an unceasing pressure that explodes the walls around us, or, in a more menacing way, expresses itself at times like a summons: "If you're a woman, show it." To refuse to take a stand, individually or collectively, is tantamount to a "collaboration" with oppression: a betrayal of something like a class or a people. It is, however, impossible to take a stand, and for a good reason: how can one detach a part of a mechanism that is constructed precisely so that one need not account for that part? It is logical then to assert: "If for us the void, which culture abhors, is irresistible, we will jump without a moment's hesitation or resistance, at the most arming our pleasure with some kind of braking parachute that will allow us to keep it in reserve. We would rather learn to land than to give up soaring -- We will not allow ourselves to be surrounded or subjected, we are elsewhere" (des femmes, Le quotidien des femmes, no. 2).1

Assuming the real subjective position that corresponds to this discourse is another matter. One would have to cut through all the heavy

"Enclave Esclave" [Enslaved enclave] in L'arc, no. 61 ( 1975). The occasion that prompted the text was the third evening of the Week of Marxist Thought, which was devoted to Woman and Sexuality. The meeting was held in the large hall of the Mutualité. The speakers were Gisèle Moreau, Catherine Clément, Luce Irigaray, Annette Langevin, and Bernard Muldworf. During the discussion that followed the individual speeches, certain women's liberation groups reacted violently to the theoretical positions of Catherine Clément who, in the Marxist tradition, had insisted that class struggle is more fundamental than the struggle between the sexes.

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1
A newspaper published by the éditions des femmes. -- Tr.

-130-

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