Return to Contents


French politics and parity
In France there has been more legal progress for women in the last thirty years than in the preceding two centuries. Today women in France have equality as far as the law is concerned. The facts, however, are another matter. The debate about women working outside the home was first raised during the industrial revolution. Women worked in factories and mines, and it was accepted because their salaries were lower than men’s. Later on, the early socialists were dead set against women working outside the home. The first unionists were against it, saying, “They’re going to steal our jobs.” And interestingly, politicians today are saying the same thing: “They’re going to steal our jobs.”After the parity law [which required political parties to have 50 percent women candidates or pay a financial penalty] was passed, the percent of women on city councils rose to about 45 percent. . . . In the National Assembly, however, nothing has changed. I thought the threat of
financial penalty would be sufficient. There are women ready to run now, and the general population likes women candidates. But I was naive. The parties prefer to lose money rather than give a chance to women candidates.

—Yvette Roudy, President of the Council of Europe's Commission on Equality for Women and Men and former French Minister of Women's Rights, speaking at the Women's Studies Colloquium on October 30, 2002

The O Brother pastiche

In the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen are doing some very inventive shenanigans, a clever kind of pastiche of cultural impressions with pre-existing stereotypes of Southern people. Fred Jameson writes that pastiche, like parody, is “the imitation of a peculiar or unique idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a twisted mask, speech of a dead language. But pastiche is a neutral practice of such imagery, without any of parody’s ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse. . . . Pastiche is thus blank parody, a statue with blind eyeballs.” O Brother, Where Art Thou? lacks any effort to really explain why these stereotypes are being used. The movie provides no commentary or socially responsible interpretation of Southern cultural history. When viewed from a moral perspective, O Brother holds little aesthetic value.

—Ted Olson, professor of English and director of the Appalachian, Scottish, and Irish Studies program at East Tennessee State University, speaking on November 7, 2002, sponsored by the American Studies Program