Monthly Archives: January 2015

What is a feminist?

“No, she is not a feminist because…” is a sentence I hear more and more today as feminism is entering the mainstream with artists like Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. The columnists working for the Guardian (God knows I love and admire that paper), well many columnists seem to like dismissing her, her and her or her because she “pretends” to be feminist “when in fact she is not and here why I can prove she is a fraud who has not understood a thing.”

They are not the only ones who do that – far from it. I am just very disappointed when they do because I expect some much from the Guardian, and using irrelevant arguments to dismiss people’s commitment is what I expect for the people who think patriarchy is the way forward.

Here are a few of the countless reasons I hear (not just in the Guardian) as to why such or such woman is not a feminist after all when in fact, she is.

She is not a feminist because she is a housewife.
She is not a feminist because she is married.
She is not a feminist because she gave up her job to follow her man.
She is not a feminist because she gave up her job to raise her kids.
She is not a feminist because she does things for her man.
She is not a feminist because she likes pleasing men.
She is not a feminist because she is a stripper.
She is not a feminist because she works in porn.
She is not a feminist because she enjoys watching porn.
She is not a feminist because she wears bikinis on the beach.
She is not a feminist because she shows some skin in her video clip.
She is not a feminist because she wears skirts.
She is not a feminist because she wears high heels.
She is not a feminist because she wears make-up.
She is not a feminist because she likes to be pretty.
She is not a feminist because she reads women’s magazines.
She is not a feminist because she is Catholic.
She is not a feminist because she is Jewish.
She is not a feminist because she is Muslim.
She is not a feminist because she is religious.
She is not a feminist because she is black.
She is not a feminist because she is African.
She is not a feminist because she wears the veil.
She is not a feminist because he is a man…

When you listen to people and the reasons why so and so are not feminists, you end up with the following definition of a feminist:

“A white, European, childless woman who is not married, resents all men and will do anything to keep them at bay, therefore has short hair and never wears make-up, any kind of clothes, never shows any physical attributes and never has any attitudes men would consider attractive; hates and conjures sex in all its form; is an atheist because it is essential to have no master; and is never making any compromise on any aspect of her life to the point of associability.”

Clear; isn’t it? Well that’s what the aforementioned statements about feminists translate to and of course they do. They are the views our societies have been making, having and happily spreading of feminism since the Suffragettes in late 19th century. We have this view of women who don’t want to be women because men have defined femininity as an inferior, humiliating state. So we like to see feminists as wanna-be men who have not been able to invent a different way of being, rather are trying to conform to the objectivist idea of the modern male to finally take over his dominance. Even if it means turning into the stereotype he created of himself: heartless, careless, ruthless, strict, aggressive, driven by gain, free of all masters, never hesitating to walk on bodies on his way to economic fulfilment.

Sure you will meet women like this. I have and it’s actually quite interesting, because it’s meeting people who are extreme, who are on the fringes and whose violence in words and being is forcing you to reflect upon your own views. We need these people to define the boundaries and see where the argument stops being sensible and becomes ridiculous, but they are not more nor less feminist than the others.

The definition of a feminist is very simple as given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – not Beyoncé, you daft gits! – in her lecture at TEDxEuston.

“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

That is it! Nothing more. That’s what a feminist is. A feminist can be anyone, of any shape, any religion, any colour, any nationality, any age, any gender, any marital status, any job, any fashion sense, any sexuality who believes that men and women should be equal socially, politically and economically.

As I said, for some, it means becoming the man but as the spectrum is widening and we are listening to less extreme views of feminism, it’s mainly about believing in choice because equality is mostly about being able to make a choice, it is to be free of all hindrances whether they are economic or social. The big difference today is that men have the choice to be, think, do, believe, become, achieve anything they want whereas women are still under a lot of pressure from everywhere (society, family, friend, education…) to be a certain way. A way that is not the one they choose to choose but a chosen way that is somehow dictated by someone or something else.

You can refer to Adichie’s lecture on Youtube where she addresses these pressures and requirements very well.

The truth is, you can be happily married with children and a housewife and be a feminist. Because feminism is not about forbidding women to be housewives, it’s about making sure that it’s a choice they make because they wanted to do it, not because they were told again and again and again that a woman belongs at home or a woman was born and can only find solace in caring for her children.

You can be a Muslim and wear the veil and be a feminist, like hundreds of thousands maybe millions of women are around the world. Feminism is not about forcing women to dress like a Western man. It’s a battle we fought in Europe but it’s not always a battle people want to fight, it’s about ensuring that women who follow Islam, and therefore wear the veil, have chosen to do it themselves, not because they were told it was the only way. It’s the same for all religions. Feminism is about ensuring that religion was not forced upon you in any way peaceful or harmful rather it’s a deliberate, educated choice you made.

You can be feminist and want to be pretty, sexy, attractive and wear whatever you want, you can want to attract men because feminism is not about rejecting men or fashion. It’s about making sure that the women are doing what they do for themselves, the way men are. I know many feminists who will put on a skirt, high heels, spend 15 to 30 minutes doing their hair and eye-liner in the morning not even thinking about men for a second but about themselves. Unlike what men and the society in general seem to be believing, women’s life do not revolve solely around men. Women will use make-up and try clothes until what they see in the mirror puts a smile on their face and inflates their heart with confidence, not until they think of themselves as “fuckable”. My mother’s like this and she is not doing it for the men, who, by the way, are absolutely clueless about women’s fashion.

Saying that women dress sexy only for men is to agree with the presupposition that men, attracting men, finding a man is at the centre of their life. Feminism is about making sure they wear what they wear because they want to, not because they feel like they have to. It’s making sure that if they dress sexy for men it’s because they want to, not because they were told that, as a woman, the most important thing in her life, before any other kind of accomplishment, is to find a man of her own, marry him and spawn him a dynasty.

You can love a man, be ready to give up everything for a man and actually do it and still be feminist because feminism is not about teaching women to become utterly selfish and stubborn in relationships. Again, feminism is not about trying to turn women into the outdated stereotype of the man in a relationship. It’s about ensuring that women and men can be passionate, dedicated and committed without being ridiculed and called submissive. It’s about teaching men and women that there are no predistinctive, gender-based attitudes towards love, that there are not just two ways to love: one masculine way, one feminine way, one dominant, one submissive. It’s about showing people that all kinds of love are valid, dignified and respectable. It’s about teaching men and women that compromise, agreements and sacrifices are a noble and necessary part of the relationship and that both should be ready and okay to do some of it with a full conscience. Not just the woman because she was told that it was her job as a supporting wife and girlfriend, which is still mostly the case.

You can be feminist and like sex, love sex, do sex, enjoy sex and want more sex because feminism is about accepting that women are sexual beings, not just baby factories for whom sex is solely a matter of human survival. It’s making sure that the way you express your sexuality doesn’t reduce you to being either a frigid nun or a shameful slut which is, for instance, is what for many Beyoncé has unfortunately become after her last album. Two, maybe three songs, were more or less openly dealing with sex (with her husband) out of the whole album so suddenly, she is a low-life slag who lost all dignity. Really? All dignity?

There is the idea that a woman who likes sex is therefore addicted to men, thus submissive to them (because the “woman” role is only passive obviously) and can therefore never be a feminist. You can be a porn actress and be a feminist, you can be a stripper and be a feminist, you can be a prostitute and be a feminist, you can have orgies and gangbangs and be a feminist. Not a “fake feminist” but a real one because feminism is about what you believe in your head, not what you do with your body. Otherwise you may as well dismiss the Suffragettes on the basis that they conformed to the dress code of their time.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in another interview that “you can shake your booty as long as you make sure that it’s your choice, that you do it for yourself first”. Like Missy Elliott puts it “Ain’t no shame and do our thing, just make sure you’re ahead of the game”. It’s about women having full control of their life, not feeling forced to conform to someone else’s idea of sexual value.

Feminism must not be reduced to the usual shallowness of our male-dominated society where everything is dismissed at the first blink of an eye. Feminism and being a feminist is not about what you look like or in which box your various social, political and economic status put you in. It’s about what you believe. If you believe that women should be men’s equals, not copycats or clones (once again, feminism is not about turning women into men), but equals in the way they should have the complete freedom and peace of mind to choose what they want to be, become, think, do, believe and achieve, then Miss, Mrs, Mister and everything in between of which ever religion, nationality and colour, you are a feminist.

You don’t even have to agree with all the above. You might think that a housewife can never be a feminist but if you believe that women should be able to wear and look like whatever they want without any pressure from anyone else, whether it’s wearing or not wearing the veil, make-up, or trousers, then you are a feminist. You are not less of a feminist than somebody else, just different. You will fight for that aspect of feminism whereas others will focus on something else and you will bring a different view to the debate which is always necessary for feminism to move forward and be more inclusive.

“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” If only people were given some time to think about it, most of us would be open feminists.

“Quand on sait pas, on va pas” – When we don’t know, we don’t go.

*Self-Righteous Warning on this piece: I am being very holier-than-thou below*

It has been a week and, whereas the news of the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo went around the world quickly, the ins and outs of who, why, where, when, how are starting to sip slowly outside of Western Europe. Especially in the US where, expect for some very informed people on the East coast and some well-done liberal figures, people just don’t seem to get it.

I am not here to have a go at Americans. It’s just that I know a lot of them, and saw a lot of them who decided to talk about it and their reaction towards what happened ranges from baffling to angering, especially from at least 11 Youtubers (all American for some reason) who I had always considered as being clever, informed, sensible, sensitive and on top of things.

Now, I understand people might not know (or care) about the full extent of the assassinations and attack. I understand that people don’t give a crap and have no opinion. I am the same about many things. what I don’t understand is the people who know little but insist on talking about. Why the need to advertise that lack of knowledge and lead others to complete disinformation and twisted truth on the matter? I don’t really understand what’s happening in Nigeria, no matter how much I read about it, so I don’t go and broadcast uneducated opinions about it. Maybe it’s just me…

I follow about 80 Youtubers of various nationalities and backgrounds and some of them addressed the issue of Charlie Hedbo quite well, some were actually funny and witty about it. However I have also been hearing a couple of Youtubers with huge following talking about Je suis Charlie, all with the usual “for those who don’t know…” followed by something that is nowhere near the truth and usually around the description of Charlie Hebdo.

Such as:
“Charlie Hebdo was the head of a Catholic magazine who was killed for opposing Islam”
“Charlie Hebdo are an extremely islamophobic and racist magazine”.
“Charlie Hebdo are a far-right paper who want to get rid of Muslims”
“Charlie Hebdo have a history of purposefully offending Islam”
“Charlie Hebdo  are a bit like the KKK”
“Charlie Hebdo is more extreme than the Tea Party”

And counting. What the fuck?! There is obviously a lack of information (or lack of wanting to get the information, in some cases) and yet, it doesn’t stop them from adopting a very clear positioning throughout the rest of the video.

Yes, I am French so it is easier for me because in France, we have been talking about nothing else for a week. It is not difficult for me to know what happened. Even when you try to just close the newspapers and turn off all media, you will know what, where, when, who, how and what capacity. I understand it is not the case for everyone and, yes, except for some “very serious” media – as some like to call them – not all are running a fully comprehensive coverage of what happened.

Actually, I am not here to decipher on how they got such distorted information. The fact that most of them rely firstly on Twitter to get the everyday news can be a hint. But for God’s sake, if you read the first three lines on Wikipedia about Charlie Hebdo, all the above quotes would not have occurred. For me, that spells “I could not even have bothered to check. I am just going to soliloquise for the sake of it”.

What I am here to mention is their reaction in the face of the backlash they had, mainly from their European following and be able to answer to them because there is nothing I hate more than 100-something character long, hit & run tweets.

Here’s the most common tweets for them:

“No need to be so rude.” I used to get that quite a lot from the students who made a huge mistake, cheated or knew they did something very wrong that has angered others. They turned themselves into the victim of some kind of violence so the focus changes and they get an apology. Less focus on how you said it, not what you said. It reminds me of dog-punching children who got shouted at and who cry after saying “Mummy is so meeaaannnn…” looking for sympathy.

“Okay, I just made a mistake, it’s fine.” Well, no. I do admire you for saying that you made a mistake but the “it’s fine”? That’s a no no! You have hundreds of thousands, millions for some of them, of followers. A lot of them will be teenagers with an even shorter understanding that you have, as an adult. People are using YouTube as a form of media and are trusting you to tell them something correct so saying that Charlie Hebdo is a far-right islamophobic and racist magazine, which is the complete opposite of the truth, is not just a mistake. It’s disinformation and twisted lies. You cannot go denouncing the lies spread by homophobes and racists then do the same and expect nothing in return. Whether you like or not, being a Youtuber with a following gives you a responsibility and if you decide to go on this path of informing and commenting current news – especially the assassination of journalists – you have to look at the facts and be accurate. If you don’t, your uneducated vision of events will do nothing but spread further misunderstanding. People will be increasingly under the impression that the deaths were somehow deserved.

“I say whatever I want, it’s free speech that’s what the whole thing is all about. It’s satire” The “whole thing”?! You obviously don’t understand the “whole thing”. Satire is not just about saying anything offensive that pops into your head willy nilly. Satire is a hell of a work to do because it has to have double-meanings that are conscious; it needs to send out messages that are obvious but also hidden. It needs to get people to think and laugh, sometimes. Seriously, saying that Charlie Hebdo is racist and to say “It was satire, you don’t understand” when people call you on your shit is just writhing, desperately trying to land on your feet when you’re in free fall. As for the freedom of speech, it comes with a responsibility to at least not willingly and unapologetically spread lies. And if you do, people will indeed smack you down. That’s democracy for you. Like we all did with Steve Emmerson from Fox News and his “Birmingham is now Muslim-only city”. Like him, you bow, grovel and apologise for being a clot and a liar. That’s what adulthood and humility is all about. Calling into your freedom to talk bollocks is doing nothing but discredit you even more.

“Alright, I am not making videos anymore…”. The passive-aggressive attempt to make it about yourself. I am wrong, I feel bad about it and need some comfort. Cue the “Not all white people are racists” in the debate about Black Lives Matter. Let’s make it about me!

“You people, always blowing things out of proportions.” There it is, the worst and yet most commonly heard phrase coming from the US at the moment.

We, Europeans, are blowing this “out of proportions.”, as if we were being ridiculous and childish, making a fuss for nothing and trying to draw attention on us unfairly. “Barely 10 people died”, “no kid was killed so it’s fine”, “it’s not like they killed thousands of people” are sentences I heard from many, many American people I know, including friends.

A very close friend of mine told that “this whole Je suis Charlie thing is the worst PR stunt she had ever seen”. PR? For what? Tourism in Europe? Come to visit us, we are nice and liberal. Aw, “for people to buy Charlie Hebdo”… I blocked her email and will be for a while…

First, this “whole thing” happened a week ago. France is still in a national state of shock and wondering so yes, when you go on such territory, be prepare to be dealing with people who take it to heart. It doesn’t make us any less understanding of satire or lovers of Charlie Hebdo. Spreading lies about the nature of Charlie Hebdo, especially to compare them to KKK, is like saying that Kennedy was a “too right-wing anyway” a week after he was assassinated, or that all the girls assassinated by Elliott Rodger in Isla Vista were all “slags and whores to being with”. It gets people to think that somehow, it’s not such a loss. That’s not going to go down well either.

Now, regarding the matter of the killing itself, maybe it’s because that kind of thing doesn’t happen every other three months in Europe. We are not used to our papers filled with news of people all guns blazing barging in somewhere and shooting everything that moves for important or trivial matters. So we are in shock, yes. Maybe it’s out of proportions for the US but please, a bit of empathy to understand that we don’t see this all the time. Patronising us into shutting up is not the answer.

Also these people were not just killed randomly too, they were assassinated, they were targeted for being something, for saying something through the publication of a couple of drawings. It puts everyone else in danger, not just of a bomb, but of being targeted for speaking out, for saying something, for writing something. I never buy into global psychosis, it’s irrational but knowing that people can be targeted for publically expressing an opinion makes me wonder every time I thought of writing something on this blog for the past week. “Can anyone get my email address and more?”

There is something in these attacks that do not make us victims of fate but targets for what we say. In that case, where does it stop? Will it ever stop? In a world where being offended somehow makes you right, will it ever stop or become the norm?

When the bombings in London and Madrid happened, the first thing we thought was that it was retaliation for the illegal war in Iraq where hundreds of thousands of people were dying. When France had to live through that wave of terrorist attacks back in the 1980s and 1990s, we knew that it was yet again a matter of geopolitics where we were paying the price for our positions in the Middle-East and especially Iran. It was tit for tat, an eye for an eye.

Today, we just don’t understand why such violence for so little. It’s drawings. Just fucking drawings! People were killed because they published drawings from someone else. We are now in the middle of soul-searching trying to understand the implication of that, which is mainly the attack on free speech. We are not talking about censorship here but death. People dying because they somehow said something that offended others who then decided they deserved to die. To not live anymore, to live orphans and widows behind.

We are “blowing this out of proportion” because the act itself is beyond anything we had before. Sorry we are not accustomed to people regularly deciding on the right to live or die of strangers, it is hard to stomach. We are now rallying to find out the ins and outs of all this so we can prevent this without impeding on the freedom of press or civil liberties, rather through education and understanding. So when we open YouTube to find someone giving out irrelevant and uneducated information with definitive judgements to thousands, if not millions of other people, who are all to ready to listen and believe it, we get angry. Yes.

If only it had been done in a satiric way, many artists are doing it right now and it’s fine because it’s well-thought out, worked on and cleverly put (for most of them) but there was nothing of such in what these very Youtubers broadcast to their following.

I am actually not offended or angry by these Youtubers, such terribly disappointed.

Democracy will be our revenge because this is the terrorists’ greatest and darkest fear.

When it comes to terrorism, we are always told that we should not play into their “game” but what does it mean?

I have two main understandings to this statement.

The first one is to avoid what in French we call “La Loi du Talion: Œil pour œil, dent pour dent.” This can roughly be translated as the law of retaliation: eye for eye, tooth for tooth.  This is the hardest part for everyone when it comes to dealing with loss and shock, the inner fight against what seems to be the only fair course of acting: retaliation.

La Loi du Talion is the first voice that arises from the sore throat of the ones looking at the blood of the victims. The vox populi forever demands revenge, the criminals have to pay. For murder, we have to find a cherished one of these killers and have them murdered by the grieved the way their beloved were killed.

And this what we must avoid at all costs.

I am not going to say that it’s because it won’t bring their loved ones back – nothing ever will, even civilised justice – or that it will not help with closure and coping with their loss – it might. The reason why I think the retaliation can never work is because bleeding your enemy’s children will only prove them right (1).

The battle for retaliation is always righteous and we will all end up having a good, a noble, a fair reason to harm each other.  This is what we see between Israel and Palestine or between the US/UK and the Islamists: every side has become the victim and the executioner at once. Every side can prove the other has harmed them unfairly, unlawfully and therefore claim to be in the right when it comes to destroy their foe.

Once the idea of retaliation has sneaked in, it is almost impossible to call to reason anymore.

La Loi du Talion rests on emotions, it’s a kneejerk reaction. You push me, I push you. Case closed. Let’s move on. We discourage it in school playgrounds and there is a reason for this: this has always been the main source of hatred in today’s world with lethal consequences.

In Europe, this, coupled with nationalism, was the main reasons for countless, increasingly bloody wars, this idea that we always had a score to settle with a neighbour: a treaty that was unfair, a dispute left unresolved, an insult left undealt with, a region they took away from us at some point and we had to get back. The case of Alsace-Lorraine poisoned the relations between the French and the Germans since Louis XIV who conquered it in 1639, in 1870 where the Germans took it back then France took it back in 1918, an episode Hitler took for a terrible humiliation on the part of Germany. Alsace-Lorraine was therefore not “occupied” but “integrated” to the 3rd Reich during the war because it was still seen as a lawful part of Germany. That’s more than 300 years of revenge wars, millions of death to see who would have the last world.

The terrorists are in this logic. They believe they have a score to settle but they need a fight to quench their thirst for death. Thus they are pushing us into our darkest place. They are targeting the meek, the innocent, the ones who represent the most our democracy so we all become the stone-cold, intolerant, empty, calculating, bloodthirsty killing machines they have become a long time ago. They want us to retaliate, to strike harder, deeper. Drop an atomic bomb on Mosul (like some people are suggesting) and you will serve nothing but their purpose. They don’t care for other Muslims, they have been mass-killing them for centuries for disagreeing with their extreme beliefs. But then we will become the executioner again and they will claim yet more reasons to bleed us to the bones. How long will it last? How many innocent will have to die on both sides?

We have to be the ones who know better because they never will. We can’t lecture the world on civilisation and be nothing but barbarians.

We should resist the urge: punch a tree, scream, cry, rally and be with peers who will understand and share our anger so we can let it out but we should never retaliate. We should put our faith into the democratic system we have built, not matter how slow it looks when dealing with our need to avenge. It is slow in appearance because it wants to be fair and meticulous in punishing the right people. Yes, we could decide to punish all Muslims, it would be quicker but we would be no different than the Nazis towards the Jews.

If it’s a war of faith the terrorists want, I am putting my faith in the peaceful democracy we have been trying to build and improve since the voice of the first French philosophe broke out in the opaque midst of tyrannical absolutism.

That’s my second reading of this say: we have to trust our democracy. Not just “trust” but defend, even though they are not perfect because they are the expression of us, the people.

What the terrorists want is to destroy our state, what we built, what we died for, what we fought for for centuries. They loathe it, this state. These “God-less” democracies where everyone can say; think, be, act, wear, eat whatever they want, even women, gays and now, increasingly, children.

If you consider these terrorists, their view of what and how the world should be is based on some twisted interpretation of the prophet’s message back in the 7th century, right at the birth of Islam. That’s almost 1400 years ago in a world where men like them got to rule, oppress, control and kill freely. That’s the world they want and that’s a world we have to never give them.

We have to never play into their games like London and Washington did, for instance. Two countries where the fight against terrorism has, nowadays, given birth to the belief that every citizen is a potential terrorist, where surveillance is everywhere, righteously justified by its creators, praised and widened by the frightened ageing establishment of their parliament.  For Washington, London or Canberra, we, the people, all have become a risk for the security of the state. But if the people is the enemy is the state, who is the state serving? Demo-cracy: “the power of the people”. The state must serve the people, not the state itself.

Totalitarism is where the state is serving the state. This idea that every citizen is a threat to the state and must therefore be tracked, watched, can be searched and arrested at all times is the one that rule dictatorships such as North Korea, Cuba, Nazi Germany and USSR – where the dictator is the state. These regimes served an ideology, whereas the terrorist serve a belief.

The idea of state vs individuals is indeed also deeply rooted the theocracy the terrorists want to impose to the world: a state that is the voice of God, a regime where criticising the state is to criticise God, a regime supposedly ruled by the book holding the message of God for the sake of everyone but truly ruled by the men who will have found the means to kill their opponent in the name of faith.

The terrorists want our democracies to become paranoid and unfair because, as the scandals of mass surveillance and the abuse of the Patriot Act have shown, they know it will lead the people to lose faith in the state and forsake it for more extreme views.

We have to protect our liberties, all of them; we have to carry improving not going back to darker more obscurantist times, we have to remind our leaders that when attempting to restrict movements, conversations, expressions, opinions to squash terrorism, they can also undermine our ability to be free, which is exactly what our enemy wants.

Democracy, the power of the people, the freedom of the people, will be our revenge because this is the terrorists’ greatest and darkest fear. We must stand in front of terrorism and tell our leaders that altering our freedom to be, think, speak, act and believe in any way will turn us into our very enemy and hand them the victory.

1 – See History will teach us nothing by Sting:

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith, of reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire

We saw worse on our path to protect the French Republic. You do not scare us.

Countless times did we fight to our death to ensure we could live, think, be and act freely.

So today, we will walk on, as we always have, as one, with fear, yes, but determination.

We will remember the brave and the innocent, whose life you wasted.

They will give us the strength to overcome.

Peacefully and lionhearted, we shall strike the last blow. 

Homophobia debunked: “A child must not believe he comes from two men or two women”.

This is an argument I heard from Elisabeth Guigou, a former left-wing French Ministre de la Justice who was deeply in favour of marriage for everyone, including gay couples. However, regarding the right to adopt, she was against it – as are still the leaders of the governing Left in France today.

So that was her argument to justify her position. “A child must not believe he comes from two men or two women. He must always be able to understand and know that a child is born when a man and a woman are involved”. There is behind this, the matter of human survival. With 8 billions of us and counting exponentially, I think we’re safe but I do understand this.

However, it is flawed when used to prevent gay couples from adopting.

I am not going to argue or counter-argue the people who, in 2015, despite all scientific evidence, are still saying that a child can only be “normal” if he is raised by a father and a mother. This has been and is being argued out and frankly the people who still believe in it are now choosing to do so and nothing I or anyone else says will make them change their mind.

I am also not going to argue, once again, the false argument of gender roles. “A child needs a strict yet playful, strong and handsome father as well as loving, caring, softly-spoken, cuddly mother”. We were already moving away from that in the 1960s.

I say “he” for a child because in French, “child” is masculine so we use “he”. I am very confused with English because the British used “she” as a general term for all baby animals but “they” as a general term for people…

So Madame Guigou says that gay couples should not adopt because there is a risk that the children will grow up thinking that they are the product of two men or two women.

Let me put it to you this way: the only way this can happen is if the couple makes the decision to lock away their adopted child in a dark basement, with no contact with the outside world, no media of any kind from books to radio or TV, with no education, no friends, no family. Basically nothing but the contact of his two same-sex parents who will have to carefully programme their adopted child to distrust everything he sees, hears, reads and is told expect for them.

Frankly, anyone doing that must never be allowed to be anywhere but in a psychiatric hospital, certainly not adopt a child. And proportionally, we had more instance of this kind of mistreatment coming from straight parents than gay parents…

The truth is: a child will not grow up believing he comes from two men or two women. Why? Because he will interact with his family to begin with. Even before speaking proper words, he will see things and his brain will start putting A + B together. He will see that his fathers themselves have a father and a mother each. He will have uncles and aunts who are not gay and therefore will be dating or married to someone of a different gender and he will see his cousins coming from different gendered parents. He will basically be the only one, or maybe with his siblings, to have same-sex parents. So like every child, he will ask questions and he will learn that his situation is different. Not worse, just different.

And let’s say, his parents lie and tell him he’s coming from two men. This child will go to school, see his classmates interact with different gendered parents, he will go to birthday parties, he will see how the others are living and he will put the two together: there is something different in his family. Maybe he will ask the teacher or someone else and they will tell him about his situation.

Let’s say, again, that everyone, from the teachers to all the other parents, was briefed by the parents to hold their tongues and lie to the child. Let’s say they are all bastards who think it’s for his own good. That child will watch TV, see different gendered couples and their children, he will read books with the prince and the princess who get married and have a lot of children. He will see films and see that everywhere the man and the woman fall in love and have babies. He will see that everywhere he looks, it’s always a man and a woman having children. So he will put the two together. Then look at his parents and realise his situation is unusual.

Let’s say he doesn’t, he will have biology lessons when he is told bluntly that a man and a woman are needed to make a baby.

Let’s say he doesn’t listen and would rather text the girl he has a crush on, well he will have sex with her and find out for himself!

I am being silly now but that’s the point. This kind of sophism sounds very noble and perfectly acceptable but when you take just a few minutes to think about the practicalities of everyday, they are just plain irrelevant. The problem is that gay couples are still prevented from adopting, children are still wasting their childhood in the orphanages of France and many other countries because people still believe that. They still believe that these children will be forever twisted, somehow psychologically deficient and socially disabled because of their parents’ sexuality.

These couples could be making a child happy and a child could be growing in a safe and secure, loving and caring environment but no, the ones in power cannot see further than their fear of the unknown. What are Madame Guigou and all the others still scared of? That the child learning the truth about his conception will turn him upside down, throw him into a world of disbelief and make him murderous or socially inept?

In France the debate has forced people who were raised by gay couples in the 1980s/1990s to come out and show how very “normal” they all are. You see men and women brought up by gays and lesbians, but who are straight, married with kids and who say the only difference between their family and the ones of their friends and spouse is that the parents are the same gender. End of! But still, it’s not enough. Frankly, any excuse would do when it comes to prevent gay couples from having the same rights as others.

Now…Yes! It is true to say that the family and our parents are our first force of socialisation. Our parents are the first pillars of our social understanding, however, we also live in a society that influences our behaviour and thinking. If you consider the first 18 years of our life, in France, we can spend up to 15 of them going to school, interacting with different people, learning about facts and different points of view. We are not all screwed up because something we thought was the norm in our family turned out not to be.

The society has a huge influence of us, especially in this day and age of modern, mass and social medias. If the society were irrelevant to changing the behaviour, understanding and beliefs our family gave us, the reactionary forces would not be fighting and spending so much to prevent forward, conflicting and open thinking from getting a share of the voice. People who went on marches to oppose gay marriage in France are afraid of one thing: that their children will agree with different beliefs and eventually teach them to their own children. Therefore bringing an end to the vision they have of the world.

This idea that a child raised by two men or two women will forever believe it is possible for two men to procreate is to deny completely the human society, its influence and its teachings. Worst! It is to deny the capacity of gay couples to provide a fair, comprehensive, proper education to their children, all based on one aspect: their sexuality – a sexuality that “cannot benefit the human race” by bringing another life.