Garance Bonotto, Marilou Poncin, Alis Pelleschi and Chelsea Culprit are young creators who are reinvesting the archetypal figures of femininity. With humour and tenderness, they point out the contradictions in our collective representations and social behaviours. By showing the other side of the coin and diverting the stigma, they have transformed the alienating assignment to a certain type of femininity into a powerful weapon in women’s struggle for freedom, especially sexual freedom.
“La Marche pour l’égalité et contre le racisme” [March for Equality and Against Racism], referring to several marches that took place from October to December 1983, was the first national anti-racist demonstration in France, which took place in response to police violence. It was quickly dubbed the “March of the Beurs” by the media. The founding of the association SOS Racisme the following year by supporters of the Parti Socialiste was a direct result of this. The word “beur” entered the French dictionary in 1985.
Orientalism is a literary and artistic movement born in the nineteenth century, represented in particular by Eugène Delacroix who, after a voyage to Morocco, painted pictures inspired by the oriental world, accentuating the exoticism and eroticism of North African women. The theme of the harem is one of the most represented, with for example Women of Algiers in their apartment (1833). The oriental woman appears there at the disposal of male pleasure.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Vol. I , trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany Chevallier (New York: Vintage Books, 2009), 349 (epub).
The feminist concept of the “male gaze” means that women are represented in visual culture from a heterosexual male perspective. In other words, they are visually objectified for the pleasure of the male eye. The term was first used and theorised by British film critic Laura Mulvey in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” published in the review Screen, Vol. 16, in Autumn 1975.
The concept of “gender performativity” is defined by Judith Butler in her seminal work Gender Trouble, first published by Routledge in 1990.
These reflections have been an integral part of feminist thinking since the 1970s, when the “second feminist wave” was considered to be emerging, characterised by a struggle for a certain sexual liberation and the demand for a new place for women in the family and social spheres. In the late 1970s, the “Sex Wars” in the United States pitted the advocates of radical anti-pornography feminism against the supporters of so-called “pro-sex” feminism, considering sexual freedom and diversity as one of the goals of women’s struggle. At the turn of the 1990s, the “third wave of feminism” arrived, led in particular by ethnic, sexual or cultural minorities. This third wave, although profoundly diverse, is fundamentally intersectional, i.e., it is concerned with the interactions between different systems of oppression, including gender, race and class. To this day, tensions within feminist movements persist.
Performance on 15 May 2019, on the occasion of Garance Bonotto’s residency at the theatre Les Déchargeurs.
Marilou Poncin, interviewed by Apolline Bazin, “L’érotisme de la génération internet selon Marilou Poncin,” [The eroticism of the Internet generation according to Marilou Poncin] in Manifesto XXI, June 2019. https://manifesto-21.com/lerotisme-de-la-generation-internet-selon-marilou-poncin/
Marilou Poncin, in an e-mail exchange with the author, September 2019.
Nelly Arcan, Hysteric (2004), Trans. David Homel and Jacob Homel (Vancouver: Envil Press Publisher inc., 2014), 37 (epub).
Type “beurette” in the Google search bar. The first pages of results will almost exclusively consist of links to pornographic sites. This French term is the feminine of “beur,” itself the backward-slang of “Arab” (“a-ra-beu” becomes “beu-ra-a,” contracted to “beur”). Initially a political and media term, it was popularised in the 1980s in a context…