Feminism Around The Globe: A Cooperation Between Artists, Experts, and Students from Strasbourg

Written by Eva Guillot & Ennio Mos

Strasbourg is known for its vibrant cultural life, and MA Euroculture students have had the opportunity to contribute to it by organizing a cultural event during their second semester. 

This is the case for Clara, Eliisa, Emma, Ennio and Eva, who put in place an art exhibition at the Librarie Le Tigre on “feminist movements around the globe.” The event seeks to reflect the cultural differences that mark various feminist movements, particularly in contrast to the French feminist movement, which is better known to the people of Strasbourg. To arouse the curiosity of the public and to make them aware of the transnational character of feminist struggles, this exhibition showcases the work of three local artists from Strasbourg: Leontine Soulier, Manon Saumand and Wonderbabette.

About the Artists 

Leontine Soulier is an illustrator and speaks of her history and the world around her. We see life, bodies, nature, and things that revolt or disturb her. With poetry and ever-present metaphor, she tries to finely instil ideas: to say a little, but not too much, to leave the reader free to read these images according to their own feelings, their experience, and their identity. For the exhibition, Leontine presented two illustrations in which she placed naked women’s bodies in curious positions, embedded in beautiful landscapes that remind us of the world abroad; without knowing exactly where this scenery takes place. It is hard to tell if those women are uncomfortable or peaceful: the artist wants to bring attention to the way that women need to constantly adapt to the world around them, wherever they go, keeping in mind their challenging position in a patriarchal society.

Manon Saumande is an artist and Master’s student in Plastic Arts at the University of Strasbourg. Her research subject is largely focused on the tensioning of the female body, as well as its strangeness. Particularly, Manon’s photographic work highlights the female nude through the self-portrait, using an intimate camera: the Polaroid. This kind of art can be considered controversial in some cultures as it challenges the boundaries of prudishness, and it exemplifies the variety of perceptions of and reactions to the female body in different cultural settings. It was the first time Manon participated in an art exhibition with her art, making this event a valuable opportunity for her to experience how it is to present self-made art to an audience, and an honour for the audience to experience her art for the first time.

Babette Rezicinier, aka Wonderbabette, is a multi-talented contemporary artist who conveys her candour and bubbly energy through her productions. She varies her modes of creations and never fails to surprise the public with her tender and witty way of interpreting the world and femininity. One of her installations is currently exhibited at the Librairie Le Tigre. In a tiny suitcase, you can find a screen that displays the injunctions of “good conduct” that used to shape women’s behaviour in relation to men. Whether the absurdity of those rules makes us laugh or leaves us sour, it is a relief to see that they have disappeared today; much credit and thanks to the work of feminist movements over the years.

The Exhibition Launch

On Friday June 3rd, 2022, two speakers were invited to the opening event of this exhibition and shared their expertise on the theme of transnational feminism with the public. The first speaker of the evening was Claudia Lam, a representative of the Council of Europe. With her experience as Deputy to the Director at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, she talked about the approach of the Council of Europe in terms of safeguarding women’s rights and promoting gender equality. By explaining complex concepts, such as the Istanbul Convention in rather general terms, she made her speech accessible for a wide audience to absorb and share. Lam concluded her talk by stressing the importance of intersectionality: the recognition that each individual has unique life experiences, and that the intersections of race and class, for example, with sex and gender must be taken into account when discussing discrimination and feminism. 

The second speaker at the exhibition opening was Yvette Marcela Garcia. This expert is a cultural worker in the associative sector, has a doctorate in sociology without a post, is a lecturer at the University of Strasbourg, and a researcher associated with the Lincs Laboratory. Her research focuses on the sociology of social relations, feminist studies and the sociology of migrations. As a Franco-Chilean child of exile, she is interested in feminism in Latin America, especially in Chile. During the opening evening, Garcia gave an inspiring overview of the evolution of feminist movements in Chile, how they influenced and were influenced by other movements in Latin America. The point was to explore connecting cultures, and it was interesting to see that while feminism all over the world struggles with the same issues,  there are still regional or cultural differences. 

This event has shown to be a mixture of two worlds where art and expertise came together. Even though both disciplines do not per definition have the same target group as audience, their combination has been proven a valuable opportunity to increase the number of interested people. Whether a message is conferred through paint, photos, installations, or speeches, at the end of the day it is about reaching people the best way we can – and a multidisciplinary approach can help us do so. Therefore, we encourage everyone to think about how art, music, theatre, literature, speech, and all other sorts of cultural activities can be combined to strengthen any message worth spreading.  

This exhibition on feminism around the globe was on display from June 3rd until June 17th, 2022 at Librarie Le Tigre.


Pictures credit: Costanza Bossi

The makings of a ‘Voldemort’: How J.K. Rowling lived long enough to become the Villain

By Fairuzah Atchulo Munaaya Mahama

A while ago, the hashtag #RIPJKRowling trended on Twitter. It was so enthralling that the social media had to clarify that the English author was indeed still alive and tweeting away. The hashtag was the Twitterverse’s response to Rowling’s new book: “Troubled blood”, published under her pseudonym Robert  Galbraith. The bone of contention was a serial killer character, who abducted and murdered women while adorned in female clothes, all to the scintillating tune of ‘never trust a man in a dress’. Like all things on the  internet, the hashtag drew both blood and hard lines among two camps, both vociferously defending their stance. 

Supporters of Rowling saw the hashtag as an attack on her freedom to speech and right to expression and opinion. After all, she was not the first author to pen a cross-dressing male serial killer. If so, we should also ‘cancel’ Psycho  and Silence of the Lamb! For them, the hashtag was simply another blowout from  ‘snowflakes’ yet again taking offence to their delicate sensibilities. 

Proponents of the hashtag, however, saw themselves as expressing their ire at a beloved author in what they considered the culmination of her transphobic views. To them, the hashtag symbolized the death of  Rowling’s reputation and  her place and adoration in their lives. The arguments of both parties prompt two critical questions relevant to today’s culture of ‘cancellation’ and political correctness: To tweet or not to tweet? Where does freedom of speech end and consequences begin? 

Continue reading “The makings of a ‘Voldemort’: How J.K. Rowling lived long enough to become the Villain”

The C-Word: Rethinking Feminism

By Maeva Chargros

“Should we sign a contract before each sexual intercourse, now?! This is insane!”

Yes, indeed. It is definitely insane to think that a law recently passed in Sweden, placing consent at the core of any rape or sexual assault accusation, automatically forces all parties involved in a sexual act to draft and sign a legally binding contract prior to any intercourse involving penetration. The problem is that our society is unable to grasp a concept that should be the main driving force in any human interaction – professional, personal, intimate, or public. Before our birth, our life is shaped on the basis of this concept’s fragile survival.

This notion is the infamous C-word, consent, and it is crucial not only in our sexual life, but in more or less every single aspect of our lives. It shows up when you switch on your phone, when you commute to work, when you need medical care, when you walk in a park etc. It shows up when you have tea with friends, when you listen to music, when you visit an exhibition, when you purchased the phone or computer you are using to read this article. This is a factual statement. Here comes the opinion-motivated one: this concept, omnipresent and yet, paradoxically almost absent from our lives, is highly feminist and has a significant feminine character. Yet, men benefit from its existence more than women – this, again, is a factual statement based on statistics readily available by anyone interested in the topic.

Before going any further, I need to add an essential sentence, unfortunately. I hope one day, the sooner the better, this sentence will become obsolete. Please take into account while reading it that this article may contain sensitive information that could act as triggers for victims and survivors of sexual assaults. Continue reading “The C-Word: Rethinking Feminism”

The Czarny Protest: Poland’s Government faces revolt over new strict Abortion Bill

This article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily representative the views of The Euroculturer, the management and editorial staff of The Euroculturer or contributors to The Euroculturer

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Emma Danks-Lambert

The Czarny Protest- Women in Poland don black to protest the loss of their dignity and security in rallies held outside of parliament buildings and in town squares across major cities in Poland.

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Czarny Protest in Krakow

They are wearing black to protest the introduction of new abortion laws which would see victims of rape and incest forced to give birth to the result of their violations, whilst those whose fetus has severe or permanent impairment, those who would be at risk of long-term health complications from carrying their child to term, will have no choice in the matter. Soon Poland may see a law passed that restricts abortion in all but the most clear cut life and death situations.

The abortion law in force now, was passed in 1993 and restricts abortions save for cases of risk to the mother’s life, impairment of the fetus, and children conceived through rape and incest.

Women are being told by the Polish Parliament that their life, their place in Polish society, the fact that they are theoretically equal citizens before the law, matters less than what their womb can produce.

Pro-life activists, backed by the Catholic Church, were the ones who submitted this new law for the consideration of the Parliament, asking for the complete restriction of abortions save for life or death situations and gathered half a million signatures, four hundred thousand more than was necessary for submission.

The Law and Justice Party (PiS) who is currently in power and considering these further restrictions, are a national right-wing conservative party but even the main opposition party Civic Platform- a liberal-conservative party, has refused to consider liberalizing abortion laws.

If the anti-abortion bills become law, women and female children who do undergo abortions for any reason short of life and death situations will risk between three months and five years in prison. Whilst doctors who seek to perform these unauthorized abortions will face increased prison sentences. The Gazeta Wroclawska quotes one protester stating that :”It’s a cruel and inhuman law. It will endanger all of us. We do not want to live in a country where the bed of a pregnant woman is surrounded by armed police officers and a prosecutor, where every abortion ends in investigation, where raped girls are forced to bear the children of their rapists ” (Translated from Polish)

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Czarny Protest in Gdansk

Pro-choice activists have tried to counter with their own initiative by producing a bill called ‘Save the Women’, which would allow abortions for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.Within a very short time the bill had collected215,000 signatures but has since been ignored by the Parliament.

The reasoning behind the Black Protest movement is described by the organizer of the Lublin branch, Catherine Babis, as – “(We) organized the protest, because we are tired of being treated like objects in the ideological controversy. It is easy to talk about sacrifice and holiness of life, if it applies to sacrifice someone else. We do not agree with forcing women to be heroic in the name of someone else’s ideology and someone else’s beliefs. We can see how it ends in countries that have introduced similar laws, countries dealing out sentences for miscarriage, and the doctors looking idly on the death of women who could be saved. We do not want Poland to be turned into a hell for women. We want dignity and security for us and for our families.”

Click here for more by Emma Danks-Lambert.

The Euroculturer Recommends:

“Asian or Eurasian Century? The Emergence of a Media Trend or a Multipolar world” by  Daniele Carminati

“The EU as a Democratic Role Model for the U.S.? Comparing representation in the EU and the U.S.” by Sabine Volk

The Burkini Ban: Unveiling the Prejudice

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Julia Mason

The Conseil d’Etat might have overthrown the burkini ban but the debate rumbles on.

Despite the ruling of the Conseil d’Etat (France’s supreme court for administrative justice) on 26th August that the ban on wearing burkinis in public in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet should be suspended, mayors in cities such as Nice, Cannes and Sisco have vouched to maintain a hard-line against “beachwear that ostentatiously displays religious affiliation” (une tenue de plage manifestant de manière ostentatoire une appartenance religieuse).

In the wake of the ruling, Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve called a meeting about the status of Islam in France. Cazeneuve, who is against the ban, urged that “France is now more than ever in need of a peaceful relationship with Muslims” (la France a plus que jamais besoin d’une relation apaisée avec les musulmans).

The fallout from the burkini ban has been causing waves not only in France but across the Continent. But have external condemnations and accusations of prejudice been too harsh?

A manifestation of French laïcité?

First and foremost, the burkini ban has to be seen in the French context. Whilst similar measures in other Western democracies would bear the hallmark of right-wing extremists, in Oye-Plages near Cannes, it was a Socialist mayor who sought to ban the burkini. France’s very strict rules on laïcité coupled with a very disturbing wave of Islamic-motivated terrorist attacks over the past year might cause us to soften our view on the matter.

France’s 1905 law separating the church and the state has formed the basis of French actions towards religion ever since. The controversial ban on wearing the burqa or the niqab in public places, justified on the grounds that showing one’s face in public is a fundamental part of living together in society, was passed in 2010. So is the current burkini ban just an extension of the ban on the burqa?

There’s at least one reason why it’s certainly not. A confusion of terminology has led to an outfit which scarcely resembles the long, dark, face-shielding, head-to-toe veils which are the object of the 2010 ban being seen in the same way. The misleadingly-named burkini might better be dubbed Al-Amirakini or the Hijabini but Australian designer Aheda Zanetti, who owns the trademarks of the words Burkini and Burqini, clearly had poetics rather than politics on the mind at the point of conception.

Lots of the photos we’re being confronted with in the media show colourful, wetsuit-style outfits with water-proof headscarves which leave the face fully exposed. This surely undermines the argument forwarded by many that the burkini ban is simply an extension of the burqa ban.

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The Burkini, scarcely reminiscent of the Burqa (compare below)

Emancipation for women

Is wanting to dress modestly at the beach really such a bad thing? It seems that it is if you’re Muslim. Why should it be that dressing modestly at the beach should be acceptable if you wish to wear a kaftan, a salwar kameez, or even a body-covering catholic habit, but not if you wish to actually go in the water or wear beachware associated with Islam.

Oppression of women in any form certainly has no place in 21st century Western democracies but at some point, enforced emancipation steps on the toes of freedom. The well-versed counter argument is that creating modest swimwear appropriate for Muslim women gives them more freedom, by allowing them to undertake that activity that the majority takes for granted, namely swimming in public.

Is it not a little patronising of the French, and others who hold the view, to tell women what they can and can’t wear? Whilst such bans in favour of the emancipation of women may just about hold for the burqa and niqab, the more extreme ends of Muslim dress code, applying the same logic to the Burkini seems to be flawed.

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Do the Burqa and the Burkini fall into the same category?

The fact of the matter is, burkinis are not being banned because of a desire to suddenly emancipate Muslim women. No, they’re being banned on the basis that they might lead to terrorism. As the mayor of Nice finely put it, the ban covered “Clothing that overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.” If this isn’t prejudice, then I’ll eat my headscarf.

Click here for more by Julia Mason.

The Euroculturer Recommends:

For more on Europe and Islam, read Sabine Volk’s fascinating piece on European right-wing rhetoric here

To learn about recent terrorist attacks in Europe, read Eric Hartshorne’s brilliantly concise history of terrorism here