Claudine Monteil, an intact feminist commitment

Claudine Monteil, an intact feminist commitment

Feminists demonstrate in favor of the right to contraception and abortion, in Paris, May 24, 1977.


“I am a woman of letters, historian, former diplomat and feminist”, thus begins each of the five episodes that make up this “A naked voice” that Caroline Broué devotes to Claudine Monteil. And it is marvelous to note that the feminist commitment of the woman who was close to Simone de Beauvoir has remained not only intact, but particularly energetic.

But let’s resume since it is the essence of this program to retrace the journey of those who mark our time. Episode 1, Claudine Monteil was born in 1949 to a chemist mother, Josiane Serre, who was director of the Ecole Normale Supérieure for young girls, and a mathematician father, Jean-Pierre Serre, who was a professor at the College de France. And to remember that the latter offered him, on his 15th birthday, a copy of the Second SexBeauvoir’s book that her mother read when she was pregnant.

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In episode 2, Claudine Monteil recounts how, involved in the Maoist movement, she met Sartre and, in the following episode, how, accompanied by Marceline Loridanshe dares to push the door of a meeting of the Women’s Liberation Movement (MLF) and this, despite the prohibition of the Maoists to join this band of“hysterical”. Except that “I go there anyway and I feel in my placeshe says. I was 20 and everyone was there: Anne Zelensky, Monique Wittig, Delphine Seyrig, Gisèle Halimi”.

Intergenerational struggle

From Simone de Beauvoir Claudine Monteil first remembers: “She spoke at top speed and you had to think as fast as she did. » Moved, she will have these words: “She was a writer, an activist until her last breath. She is a heroine, an icon. »

In episode 4, she remembers her MLF years and it is very stimulating. She tells behind the scenes of the signature of the “Manifesto of the 343 ****s”which appears in The new observer on April 5, 1971, calling for the legalization of abortion. She remembers that they had to fight day after day, and spend whole nights debating and organizing themselves, with few means and without social networks, to be heard.

She also reminds us – and this is the subject of episode 5 – that nothing is ever certain. Indeed, after a women’s party which had taken place at the Cartoucherie de Vincennes (Val-de-Marne) and, faced with the success of this event, expressing her enthusiasm to Simone de Beauvoir, Claudine Monteil remembers what the author of Second Sex then said to him and who has remained so famous: “Never forget that all it takes is a political, economic or religious crisis for women’s rights to be called into question. These rights are never acquired. You will have to remain vigilant throughout your life. »

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Unfortunately, adds Claudine Monteil, “life has proven to me that she was right: just look at what is happening in Iran, Afghanistan, Poland and even in the United States since the revocation of the Roe judgment versus Wade, who granted American women the right to abortion nationwide, leaving American states free to ban abortion..

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Worried, of course, she nevertheless refuses to be pessimistic. Says she will keep fighting. Emphasizes the importance of intergenerational struggle. Welcome the #metoo wave and invite you to take advantage of social networks, a new tool to make known, disseminate and advance the cause of women.

“In a bare voice », Program by Caroline Broué produced by Séverine Cassar. On the France Culture website and all the usual listening platforms

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