Feminist mobilizations against the labor reform in France

Morgane Merteuil


While France has just known one of its biggest social movement for years, feminists voices have been hard to heard. Certainly, the fact that a law that will harm workers will harm women workers even more, has been highlighted. Different feminist spaces have also emerged in order to think about the relation of women towards the labour market: a feminist commission in Nuit Debout, an independent general assembly “women and labour”, and a women-only general assembly with students. Alongside that, specific struggles engaged by working women have also received an occasional support.
However, we have not seen a large feminist front that would bring a deep thought of the “women and labour” issue, beyond the simple observation of the discriminations women (and gender minorities) experience inside the labour market.
Surely this failure is to be attributed to the social movement and its representative organisations that have never taken seriously the gender issues, neither made of it a fundamental question but rather an accessory one, subordinated to class issues as they understand it as something different. But the feminist movement also have responsibilities in this situation, given the limits of the theoretical frameworks their analysis are based on. Indeed, divided between a more radical feminist approach that considers patriarchy as the dominant system victimizing women, and a more intersectional one that includes the different systems contributing to this victimization, feminist spaces involved in the labor reform movement did not succeed in proposing a satisfying theorization of the situation of women inside capitalism.
Based on an active participation in this movement, especially in the feminist spaces mentioned above, this paper will then examine why the actual theoretical framework used by the feminist movement in France have failed in allowing a relevant women mobilisation inside the labor reform movement. Beyond these critics, the issue here will also consist in proposing a marxist feminist framework that would allow these mobilisations to be more successful in including both the women question as a fundamental one in the workers movement and the class issues in the feminist movement.

feminism - labor - social movements - gender - class struggle