France : does a « gender theory » really exist ?

by Juliette Fournil on December 13, 2014 - 5:30am

      During the last few months, a controversy has sparked off about school in France. Indeed, the former secretary of the Rights of Women, Najat Vallaud Belkacem suggested a school programm – called ''ABCD de l'égalité'' – in order to fight sexism and gender stereotypes.

     It is this last word which triggers a debate. Currently, a part of the population (right-wing and catholic) have opposed themselves to this bill. They blame the government for denying the differences between men and women, especially sexual differences. (One can notice that these opponents are the same people who were against gay marriage.)

     This debate about gender is not new because of the ''gender studies'', wave of studies and research from the USA. Nevertheless, the right-wing is trying to imply that these analyzes deny the biological differences. This is not the point, which is to show that they cannot be used to justify all social inequalities between men and women.


 

What are the inventors of a ''gender theory'' thinking...

     In this way, the idea spread to a part of the right and the conservative catholics that school would teach a "gender theory". An article in Valeurs Actuelles summarizes the arguments of these movements. They are convinced that their ''girls will not be able to play with dolls if they choose it, and their boys to decide to play football''. These parents have even withdrawn their children from school for several days in order to protest. They also created some organizations or federations such as the FAPEC (Fédération Autonome des Parents Engagés et Courageux). According to them, the ''ABCD de l'égalité'', would aim at not making any difference between girls and boys.


 

What are the texts and the founders of the ''ABCD” saying …

     The government believes that "passing values of equality and respect between girls and boys, women and men, is an essential task of the school : the foundation of success for all students, both girls and boys''. This program aims at making children aware that women and men should have the same rights, in order to build a more egalitarian society than today.

     '' Football is not for a girl'' ; '' a boy who likes dancing, it's weird'', '' rose is for a girl''. Indeed, Rachel Mulot and Erwan Lecomte explain in Sciences et avenir that one hear often these sentences but it can be considered as a kind of discrimination : ''we know that we will not refuse a girl playing football, but we also know that it will be involved in most of the time a "tomboy" ''. It is thus to remove these kinds of stereotypes that the government initiated this project.

     This programm has been experimented in nursery and primary schools because childs already have prejudices !


 

     Finally, this programm is not intended, as opponents say, teaching children, that there is no biological differences between men and women, but rather to remove all sexist gender stereotypes and behavior as we have seen above. Moreover, Arnaud Lacheret – doctor in political science – asserted that the policy of the government results of scientific researches which enables to make credible the project of ''ABCD de l'égalité''.

    So, one can conclude that the ''gender theory'' is a pure invention. The goal of this project was just to promote equality between men and women in the social life. One must bear in mind that equality is a constitutional principle.


 

     I chose to tackle this issue because I think it is a good exemple to show how important the gender is in our societies (especially mine). And we can see how the stereotypes are still deeply entranched in minds and how it is difficult to change it.


 

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About the author

Hi,
I'm Juliette. I come from France and I will study political science and economy for two semester in Potsdam. I'm very interested in international relations and gender studies, that's why I decided to follow this lecture. I'll probably be part of Amnesty International Potsdam.