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Where Having It All Doesn’t Mean Having Equality (Assigned Article for SOc. Sci. 2 MTH)

Posted by Brian C. Ventura on September 20, 2011


Published: October 11, 2010

PARIS — Could there be anything more French than this workout?

Weeks after giving birth, French women are offered a state-paid, extended course of vaginal gymnastics, complete with personal trainer, electric stimulation devices and computer games that reward particularly nimble squeezing. The aim, said Agnes de Marsac, a physiotherapist who runs such sessions: “Making love again soon and making more babies.”

Perineal therapy is as ubiquitous in France as free nursery schools, generous family allowances, tax deductions for each child, discounts for large families on high-speed trains, and the expectation that after a paid, four-month maternity leave mothers are back in shape — and back at work.

Courtesy of the state, French women seem to have it all: multiple children, a job and, often, a figure to die for.

What they don’t have is equality: France ranks 46th in the World Economic Forum’s 2010 gender equality report, trailing the United States, most of Europe, but also Kazakhstan and Jamaica. Eighty-two percent of French women aged 25-49 work, many of them full-time, but 82 percent of parliamentary seats are occupied by men. French women earn 26 percent less than men but spend twice as much time on domestic tasks. They have the most babies in Europe, but are also the biggest consumers of anti-depressants.

A recent 22-country survey by the Pew Research Center summed it up: three in four French people believe men have a better life than women, by far the highest share in any country polled.

“French women are exhausted,” said Valérie Toranian, editor-in-chief of Elle magazine in France. “We have the right to do what men do — as long as we also take care of the children, cook a delicious dinner and look immaculate. We have to be superwoman.”

The birthplace of Simone de Beauvoir and Brigitte Bardot may look Scandinavian in employment statistics, but it remains Latin in attitude. French women appear to worry about being feminine, not feminist, and French men often display a form of gallantry predating the 1789 revolution. Indeed, the liberation of French women can seem almost accidental — a byproduct of a paternalist state that takes children under its republican wings from toddler age and an obsession with natality rooted in three devastating wars.

“At the origin, family policy wasn’t about women, it was about Germany,” said Geneviève Fraisse, author of several books on gender history. “French mothers have conditions women elsewhere can only dream of. But stereotypes remain very much intact.”

Or, as the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy put it: “France is an old Gallic macho country.”

France crystallizes the paradox facing many women across the developed world in the early 21st century: They have more say over their sexuality (in France birth control and abortion are legal and subsidized), they have overtaken men in education and are catching up in the labor market, but few make it to the top of business or politics.

Only one of France’s top companies is run by a woman: Anne Lauvergeon is chief executive of the nuclear power giant Areva and mother of two young children.

Having those children is relatively easy in France, one reason Paris seems to teem with stylish career women with several offspring.

At 31, Fleur Cohen has four children and works full-time as a doctor at a Left Bank hospital. As she drops her youngest at nursery in stilettos and pencil skirt you would never guess that she gave birth only three months ago.

Child No. 4 wasn’t “planned,” Ms. Cohen said, but it doesn’t change all that much: Instead of three children, she now takes four on the Metro in the morning and drops them at the public school and subsidized hospital nursery. She joked that children are probably the best way to reduce your tax bill. Irrespective of income, parents get a monthly allowance of €123, or about $170, for two children, €282 for three children and an additional €158 for every child after that. Add to that tax deductions and other benefits, and the Cohens pretty much stopped paying tax after baby No. 3.

Across town, Ms. de Marsac snapped on a plastic glove, inserted two fingers between Clara Pflug’s legs and told her to think of the wings of a butterfly as she contracted her birth canal muscles. The French state offers mothers 10 one-on-one, half-hour sessions of perineal therapy to prevent post-pregnancy incontinence and organ descent — and to improve sex. Ten sessions of free abdominal exercises follow; Ms. de Marsac promises Ms. Pflug a “washboard tummy.”

French women have on average two babies, compared with 1.5 in the European Union overall.

Asked by foreign delegations about “le miracle français,” Nadine Morano, the feisty family minister and mother of three, says bluntly: “We spend the most money and we offer good childcare, it’s as simple as that. Our country understood a long time ago that to reconstruct a nation you need children.”

The 1870 defeat by a much more fertile Prussia led to first efforts to encourage childbirth. Then came the losses of World War I. Since 1920, when the gold Medal of the French Family — to honor mothers of eight or more — was created, expenditure on pro-breeding policies has blossomed. Last year, €97 billion, or 5.1 percent of gross domestic product — twice the E.U. average — went on family, childcare and maternity benefits.

Emblematic in this regard are the “écoles maternelles,” free all-day nursery schools set up a century after the French revolution in part, said Michelle Perrot, a historian, to stamp out the lingering influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

La Flèche houses the oldest école maternelle in France. At 8:30 a.m., parents drop off toddlers as young as two. Classes end at 4:30 p.m. but a free municipal service offers optional childcare until 6:30 p.m. Children are guaranteed a place in “maternelle” from the age of three and 99 percent of them attend.

Katy de Bresson, a single mother of two, called the enrollment of her son Arthur a “mini-revolution.” Free of all childcare costs, she could return to work full-time. “I am a lot happier and a lot more self-confident since then.”

Working mothers being the norm, Isabelle Nicolas, a nurse whose youngest son, Titouan, is in Arthur’s class and who quit work after his birth, feels pressure to return. “I spend a lot of time justifying myself,” she said. “In France you are expected to do it all.”

But ask any mother here whether school had changed the life of her husband and the answer is “non.”

“The school is called ‘maternelle’ for a reason,” said principal Anne Leguen. “In France, children are still considered to be the responsibility of mothers.”

Forty percent of French mothers undergo a career change within a year of giving birth, compared with 6 percent of men. Both parents have the right to take time off or reduce their hours until the child turns three — but 97 percent of those who do are women.

Women spend on average five hours and one minute per day on childcare and domestic tasks, while men spend two hours and seven minutes, according to the national statistics office Insee.

In Paris, Ms. Cohen’s husband is a doctor, too. But she bathes all four children, cooks and does the Saturday shopping — largely, she insists, by choice. “If I didn’t prepare food for my children, I would feel less like a mother,” she said.

At work, meanwhile, she plays down motherhood. She sneaks down to the hospital nursery to nurse her baby son, and tries to stay longer than her male colleagues in the evenings. Otherwise, “everyone will just assume that I’m leaving because of my children and that I am not committed to the job.”

A majority of medical graduates in France are female. Yet all 11 department heads in her hospital are men.

“French men have always been slow to give up power,” said Jean-François Copé, parliamentary leader of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party, who is defending a bill to oblige companies to fill 40 percent of boardroom seats with women.

The French Republic made “equality” a founding principle, but women were allowed to vote for the first time only in 1945. Since a 1998 law obliged political parties to have an equal number of men and women candidates on their party lists, parties have tended to pay fines rather than comply.

Women leaders come under close scrutiny in what is after all the home of couture. Ms. Morano recalls being mocked on television for wearing the same jacket several times. Ms. Lauvergeon likened her outfit to “armor.”

Four pieces of equal pay legislation have passed since 1972. But in 2009, even childless women in their forties still earned 17 percent less than men.

“A patriarchal corporate culture,” is the main barrier facing women in French companies, according to Brigitte Grésy, author of a 2009 report on gender equality in the workplace.

France is Latin not just in its culture of seduction, but also in its late work hours, Ms. Grésy said. And the disproportional weight of a small number of male-dominated engineering schools in grooming the elites has done its part in excluding women from power. Xavier Michel, president of École Polytechnique, points out that the number of female students has risen tenfold from seven to 70 since he graduated in 1972 — but that leaves it at just 14 percent.

Simone Veil was 18 when French women first voted and 28 when she was allowed to open her own bank account. At 38, as health minister, she pushed through the legalization of abortion. “A lot has changed, but a lot hasn’t,” she says today. More comfort to her than many of the laws in recent years is the fact that more fathers push strollers through her neighborhood.

Ms. Fraisse, the philosopher, says more than two centuries after France got rid of the king as the father of the nation, it needs to get rid of the father as the king of the family. “We had one revolution,” she said, “now we need another one — in the family.”


This is a repost from The New York Times

The original article can be accessed here

You can also download a printable pdf copy here. Where Having It All Doesn’t Mean Having Equality


30 Responses to “Where Having It All Doesn’t Mean Having Equality (Assigned Article for SOc. Sci. 2 MTH)”

  1. Augil Marie Robles BA Psychology said

    Men and women are born with equal rights. Before being part of society, they share the same amount of freedom thus keeping them in a state of equality. According to Rousseau’s point, it is the society that puts man in a state of being in chain, it is the society that creates the “laws” which limit women to only a specific sphere in the society, limiting the full practice of the freedom granted to them simply because they are born human.
    Women in France are given special benefits which are not offered by other countries to their female citizens, most of which made to assist child rearing. In fact, specific examples are free nursery schools, tax deductions for each child a family had, and even state-paid vaginal exercises. If we look at it, these are forms of bribing women. The benefits mentioned above make women feel that since the state has provided these, it is their obligation to respond and accomplish what they are expected to do, and that is to maintain the household, and raise their children to become good citizens of France.
    We can relate this to Rousseau’s idea that the societal laws corrupt the natural liberty of man. In the first place, it is the society that created a “stereotype” wherein women are the ones who stay at home; the submissive wives to their husbands and even the definition of a woman itself. If women were not to be attached to the rules of the society, then they may still have natural liberty and remained free from the chains, giving them freedom to choose whatever career they may like to take, be able to decide whether to have children or not (free from the disguised bribes of the government), and acquire equality with men.

  2. Rama Lo Palanog Romero BA Psychology said

    In France, women are free to have multiple children, jobs and a figure to die for yet they are chained of having the same opportunities experienced by men specifically in political and economical aspects. Rules in the society influence their freedom. In some limits, they are expected to do chores at home especially taking care of their children even after work and worse they still drop their children in school before going to work and even at work they sneak down to the nursery to tend their baby son. They simply embrace this notion because they think it is natural but for Rousseau it is not. Try to imagine how much burden they carry but their wages are still less in percentage than the men receive. It is so unjust! Yes, in this case men are the strongest but they are never strong enough to be always the master unless they transform their strength into right and obedience into duty like what Rousseau said. It means that there should be equality between men and women and it is the function of the state/government and society to perform this task since society corrupts the freedom of men because according to Rousseau all men are made by nature to be equals, therefore no one has a natural right to govern others, and therefore the only justified authority is the authority that is generated out of agreements or covenants and this is through the social contract that the government is charged of enforcing the general will which aims for the common good of all or simply equality.

  3. Anna Gabriell Balan said

    The way I understand the article and Rousseau’s principle, French women can be an appropriate depiction for his statement. French women were born free through their rights of having children, a stable job, and a reputation in the society, but despite having enjoyed these rights and privileges, these women are in chained by the obligations to follow the laws of the society wherein in some ways they are treated unequally. In the French society, it was obvious that men were given more importance than women and I see this as discrimination. Though not stooping down at the capabilities of French women, the society gives an indirect implication that men are much more above women. An implication that is gender-biased.

    Since under the government, French mothers are supposed to participate in the state’s aim in reconstructing the nation through encouraging mothers to have more babies. No doubt that the state considers this as one of their most relevant concern. Though given the opportunities to have the full benefits of giving birth, they are still instilled with the “most” responsibilities as mothers. Despite the father sharing responsibility with the mother in household chores, the mother work more hours compared with the father. Share may it seem, but I see this as an unfair share.

    I believe that the foundation of a family can never be measured in the hours by how a couple takes shifts in doing the chores or taking care of the children. There is no such thing as counting in the family, but a family should be bounded with love wherein there is equality and respect between each other. Moreover, I believe that the society should give women a chance to take over. No one knows what great contributions women can give in the construction of a better society.

  4. Marifel Dagangan said

    French women are free to the extent that they are given special treatments that women from all over the world would want to have after they give birth yet they are in chains because a lot is expected from them since after going through therapies that their government provided, they are expected to take care of their children, tend to their domestic chores, be a wife to their husbands, excel in their chosen careers, and look good while doing these tasks all at the same time.

    Even though the government aides them with free nursery services and such, mothers are still given a heavy task at hand and they are expected to do their tasks with a breeze. The government provides the chains in a sense that the mothers are compelled to take the courses offered and in return fulfil their duties. There is no freedom here given that French women, provided with these luxuries after child-birth, are still unhappy and over-worked – not to mention the state of inequality they are facing. In my opinion, French women are treated as domesticated pigs that are taken care of and given special care after they give birth for one purpose only, to make babies again.

  5. Carl Angelo Celebria said

    The question: “To what extent are French women free and to what extent are they in chains?” begs for a definition of terms. If freedom means the capacity to exercise a choice, then French women do enjoy freedom. The writer, however, implies that it is not a choice but rather an elaborate scheme by the government to lead the women towards taking one path rather than another.

    The writer has already made the conclusion that French women are “not free” and proceeds to reinforce this belief with statistics. One may ask, what is the basis of the ranking? What are the parameters or values that were used to rank these countries, given the fact that different societies have different values? To what extent can freedom be equated with inequality?

    One can also add to the discussion the theory of relativity. One woman’s leash can be another’s skipping rope. The article cites two opposing views.
    One view says: “French women are exhausted,” said Valérie Toranian, editor-in-chief of Elle magazine in France. “We have the right to do what men do — as long as we also take care of the children, cook a delicious dinner and look immaculate. We have to be superwoman.”
    The other states: Katy de Bresson, a single mother of two, called the enrollment of her son Arthur a “mini-revolution.” Free of all childcare costs, she could return to work full-time. “I am a lot happier and a lot more self-confident since then.”
    The movement for equal rights for women continues. But it has come a long way in many parts of the modern world. Perhaps, at some point in the future, the will come when all men will really be equal.

  6. Joyce Maline Tumakay said

    “ The man is born free but everywhere”, in Rousseau’s context, this means that the moment we are born, we are free but only for a short span of time. But as we learn our language that is where we start to become aware of what is good and bad as society dictates it. People tend to do things which they think is good for them because of what society dictates them.

    The man is born free- In France women are given freedom, in such a way that the government spend a lot for the physical appearance of the women, how to have a an easy pregnancy, better figure, and still become a gorgeous mother, with the use of perineal therapy, they can have anything and nothing. Anything to become beautiful and nothing to make them truly have what they really want.

    But everywhere in chains- Even if these women were given freedom to become beautiful it is no wonder why these women take lot of anti-depressants, they are deprived of what they really want to do, many of these women are well-educated but stays at home to take good care of the children, or if they have jobs they have to balance family live and job without giving them enough freedom to fulfill the goals that they have set. Even if these women have the same profession as that of their spouse they still do most of the household chores.

    Where having it all doesn’t mean having equality means that, in Rousseau’s context, women are free to do whatever they want according to what the states dictates but not to the point that they could do most of the things that men do. Also, these women do what the society plays the role the government imposed on them thinking that it would be good for them without knowing what is good for them.

  7. Samuel D. Abagatnan said

    Women are free to do anything according to how they will live a good life. They are free to work, have a family and have a good career but they are still limited to do something that will improve and enhance their human progress. Even though they are given many benefits that make them happy and satisfied, still they are bind by a chain, especially mothers, to do something that they must do according to the society. They work hard in full time, not only doing work in their company but also doing their duties for their family as well as taking care of their children. In that I see that women in France are obliged to carry a heavy responsibility being a mother. In a family there is a mother and father but in France I think, the one who has major responsibility is the mother and this is unfair for a lady. After every day of hard work they are stressed. Another point I see is that these women in France have less opportunities than men. They even earn less but spend more than these men and this is improper but what else can they do because this is their role in their society. They are also free to prepare for a profession they want but the time they acquired their profession and majority of them have graduated but men are still on the top when getting a high position on their jobs. In France women are free to gain benefits but the society want that they will do this one only even if they want to do more. Women are bind in chains that made them do these tasks for the everyday life of their family.

  8. Ma. Victoria N. Nortiga said

    Rousseau accentuated that man in a society develop varied and unhealthful habits and his exhaustion is the result of pains, anxieties, and torments of civilized living. With this, I could say that the government of France as a mere factor of civilization could be cogitated as a suppressor of liberty and moral values, thus, uprooted individuals away from their simplest way of life.
    French women needed to become superwomen to satisfy the promptings of society. Aside from their roles as mother to their children and wife to their husbands, they needed still to look immaculate every after giving birth and to prove that they could do things similar or much better to what men could. As in a Rousseauan’s perspective, it was in a rational society where individuals tended to be luxurious, jealous, and competitive- very far from humans’ original state.
    Women as humans had freedom to pursue self interests in the society, however, governmental ideas and methodologies influenced their way of making choices. Their freedom to choose among the state-paid offerings of the government was inclined to the enchainment that they ‘’have’’ to choose. Because these offerings were already there, they tended to accept them as something natural. Their involvement in courses of vaginal gymnastics for example was due to the fact that it was already there and people accepted it as something essential in living a more convenient life though it’s not in fact. Moreover, nursery schools and the idea of making babies in association with societal benefits as of not paying taxes corrupted their “being” humans.
    They didn’t see these offerings as problems but rather gifts of society. By being attached to these offerings and standards- freedom is becoming a freedom no longer.

  9. Raiza Artemis D. Nayve said

    As what I have understood about Rousseau’s philosophy that ‘man is born free but everywhere in chains’, he refers specifically to man and not women and as what I have further read Rousseau always had this low regard to women and this article is comparable to his philosophy as how women in France are being treated. Yes, women as they were born are naturally free. But, as they enter society particularly French society for this case it also goes without saying that they allowed themselves to be subject to the rules and the norms imposed by the French government. As what I have read, the women being interviewed in the article say that they don’t have any problem with doing the things that they do for the sake of their family because if they don’t they would feel less like of what they are, particularly as a mother and wife. This is because, as earlier stated, they accepted it. Maybe because as they were growing up and being able to observe their society and having these rules being implied to them at maybe such an early age, as they grow older the more they find it normal and right. This is the enchainment that the French government does to their women and freedom is then provided to them by abiding to these laws. Although these laws and treatment to women in France, in the eyes of the feminists, are very discriminating still we cannot judge such because what our views are, are also product of how we were brought up by our own society.

  10. Mary Racelyn T. Barcelona said

    The article depicted the lives of French women especially when they already have a family of their own. It also showed their role in society compared to that of men’s.
    Although they were given equal rights, they were not given equal privileges. The statistics shown in the article showed how men were given more opportunities than women. Women were also obliged to go to work, to do the homemaking and to take care of the children. This is true even a few weeks after giving birth.
    This can correspond to Rousseau’s philosophy that men are born free but everywhere he is in chains in such a way that women, although they were given the freedom to choose their job and build their own family and the no-expense benefit to maintain their physical figure, they were enchained in the standards society has set for them. That standard is for them to be a superwoman, as what the article mentioned. They have this hard task of juggling job, family and the preservation of their appearance.
    The way I see it, the society actually looks at men as superior than women. They offer the latter benefits like therapies and trainings just to compensate the lack of equality and to give the impression that there is equality when there’s none. Society made them look as if they were given much liberty yet they were actually held by the chains it has for them. The government and the society enchain the French women in demands and obligations dressed in the model of beauty and artificial freedom.

  11. Diane Sophiya G. Casuno said

    I think French women were given considerable liberty, e.g., choosing their jobs, as long as they provide the state with more children. In fact, the French Government itself provides the necessary procedures for child-rearing. The government gives benefits to encourage women to have more children. Aside from giving birth, the women must also do household chores, take care of their children, cook good meals, and even have a dazzling figure. The women themselves voluntarily do these household tasks as if these are just natural. Certain norms were set in the society where women should be the home figure. According to Rousseau, these norms in the society are the very chains that render women stripped of their natural liberty. They are free to give birth to as many children as they want but not as free in terms of position in government or business. Another chain that restricts the French women from gaining recognition in the fields of business and government is the patriarchal traditions in society. French women gained their freedom somehow because of their long-standing traditions. Wars also contributed to diminished populations so pro-birth policies were implemented. And France used to be ruled by a king so it was accustomed to male rulers. So aside from making babies, women in high-ranking positions (which were very uncommon) were often viewed with contempt.

  12. Mary Antonette P. Baello said

    Well, according to Rousseau, the problem of inequality arises with the formation of the society. In this article, it would seem that the French Society today is still affected by their previous tradition in which the king rules the nation therefore giving men more power compared to women. So in this case, French women suffer from what Rousseau called as the natural inequality wherein they distinguish an individual’s capacity based on their bodily strength and qualities of their mind and soul. The French women may be free to do whatever they want but how the standard of the society treats them limits their individual well-being. They can actually take part in the society and choose whatever careers they would like but most of the high ranking positions were usually offered or given to men. Women are in fact much welcomed in the household where they could do domestic tasks and they are also encouraged to have these therapeutic sessions to make them even more productive. Now even if these French women’s freedom were enchained, I think that the government makes it up to them by offering free nursery schools, generous family allowances, tax deductions for each child and certain discounts to encourage them to bear a lot of children since their country believes that in order for them to reconstruct a nation, they needed children.

  13. Aljon Rey P. Catedrilla Section 8 MTh said

    At the very moment you are born, you are free. The moment you live in the society you are bound by the conventions and laws of the society.
    French women are free in choosing the things that they need as a woman, a wife and as a mother. They are free for they are free to choose the things that they desire by which they consider good for them. They are free to explore the capacity of their body to reproduce, for they can have as many offspring they want to have.
    They are in chain because the society decides what’s good for them. The courtesy of the state given to all the French women is an example of how the society decides for them. It is a way for them to have their work back immediately after they have recovered from giving birth and after they have regained their figure, which is for the common good of the French society. Common good because, first it is at the advantage of the French women to recover their health and to work efficiently, then the society shows how important they are in their respective industry and lastly, if they work efficiently and effectively, it will result into a better and improving employees of every company they work with that will later on result to a better country. The society benefits on the French women while they were in chain. It’s just like serving yourself while serving your society
    The role of the state/ government and society creating this chain or providing their freedom is to decide for the French women on what is good and bad for the society. The society can benefit to the contribution of the French women. The French society is serving these women some state-paid services because they want to enhance their capability to work efficient and to make sure that these women can contribute to the common good of their country. France is a male-dominated country but then it’s because of the society that the women’s right is preserved even if their major problem is equality between these two genders.

  14. Ashley Pineda said

    Based on what I have read, I can say that French women are free in terms of career and motherhood. They have the right to do what men can do and aside from this is the consequence that comes with being a mother which is the great responsibility of raising a child. A mother should serve her family with pleasant food, take care of her children and at the same time, maintaining her good physique. French women are allowed to have the same job as men but then, women cannot be in the same position. Men are always superior to women and I think that only shows inequality.
    The government of France provides free therapy sessions and instruments that will help women in reproduction since they believe that in order to reconstruct a society, children are needed. After giving birth, women are expected to report back at work and regain her desirable shape. With this, French women are free to have many children but are chained with the laws given by the government.
    The French society considers women as merely a robot that can be told what to do and act. In my opinion, there should be no gender discrimination because both men and women have the right, capacity and enough understanding to become who they want to be.

  15. Elecca Placer BA Psychology said

    Based in Rousseau’s “man is born free but is everywhere he is in chains”’, for me, French women have a free will in the society but to a certain extent, they are forced to follow a Doxa which is not a written law but like a rule, they follow it because in the perspective of the government, it is likely to develop a more effective society and to meet the demands of it, which is to produce more children to create a nation. As what I have read in the context, French women are free to the extent that they can also practiced the same rights as of those men have. But these have restrictions, just for example, equality is encouraged in France but it was only in 1945 women had the chance to vote. Wives, like their husbands, are also have the freedom to do whatever they wishes to do as long as they will also perform their obligations in their home. They can also attain high achievements, sometimes, higher than the male’s and gain reputation, but the sad fact is that in the highest position in a government or a company perhaps, is occupied by the dominating individuals-the males. Clearly, these women are in chain which limits them to to exercise their rights to live equally in a society. Chains that forced them to abide laws and regulations.

    The state and the society play a big role in creating this chain. They are the ones who make and implement laws which limit or ban people in doing specific actions.

    French women are born free but are everywhere in chains for the different Doxas governing their society. Yes, they have the freedom and the rights but this is not enough to make them as equal as their French men.

  16. Joanna Patricia Angeli Lu said

    “Man is born free, but everywhere in chains”, these are the words coming from Rousseau, and, at my understanding, he clearly states only to the men in general. Rousseau was not the kind of man who had a liking to women, nor is he a man who despises them. He just states that women both “need and desire” men.
    French women are free to the point in choosing their own husband, going to school and getting a degree, and have the job they want. These privileges are often not given to women, especially women living in Asia. Unfortunately, French women are also in chains because of the limited rights given to them. Yes, they have the same rights as the men but they are expected to do more. For example, they are given the right to go to school and have a job but their salary is lower compared to men. Other than that, after they work, they fetch their children from school, cook meals and bathe the children while men just work.
    The French government has the mind-set like Rousseau. Both of them believe that the women’s role in the society is to be a worker, wife and mother. Their government gives them benefit if they have children, but these benefits do not justify the duties they are expected to do. French women are “exhausted” but they are also satisfied. They chose to be in the situation they are in now because they feel that if they do not do their obligations, they feel less like themselves. During the interview, the mothers always insisted that they do these things by choice. This kind of thinking was influenced by the government. They have placed in their minds that this is what they are and they cannot change it anymore.

  17. Quennie Minalete B. Distura BA-Psychology I said

    In my own point of view, French women have the freedom to learn and educate themselves. In fact they have overtaken men in education especially in medicine. They also have the freedom to be a wife to their husbands and a mother to their children. It also appears to me that French women are very fortunate, taking into account that they are being offered subsidized perineal therapy, family allowances, tax deductions, free nursery schools for their children and many other things which women from other countries can only dream of. Unfortunately, they have been deprived of equality that is, for me, more important than free vaginal gymnastics and those benefits mentioned above. Gender inequality is very evident in workplaces and politics since it is those men who occupy the highest positions and not women. Even if French women have the freedom in education and in choosing their own career, still, the chances of acquiring a high position is quite impossible simply because they are women. Also, French women earn 26 percent less than men. These things became part of their lives for quite some time and I think that even if they have already adapted to this kind of society, they’re still not happy. One proof is that French women are the biggest consumers of anti-depressants. With these facts, I can consider French women being in chain. As for the role of the state, I think that the French government per se believed that by creating this particular chain it will lead to the betterment of their society. I would also like to associate this belief to Rousseau’s concept of general will wherein it aims at the greater good and it must come from all and apply to all.

  18. Czarina Espejo said

    Getting “apparent privileges” such as free nursery schools, family allowances, tax deductions, discounts on high-speed trains, and a paid, four-month maternity leave, a woman will surely be just persuaded to have more babies.
    As a Filipino, it is already ideal for me to have only one child in the future but if I were a French woman and be given such “privileges”, I would surely be persuaded to bear more children.
    If this situation of French women be compared to Rousseau’s “man is born free but is everywhere in chain”, French women gets the freedom of having a lot of babies unlike those who were under the one-child policy of China. French women have the right to bear children whenever they like to and not to mention the “apparent privileges” that goes with it.
    I’d like to use the term “apparent privileges” because I see the benefits given to women as only the tool of the state to cover up the state’s genuine desire that they get more of the new generation. Their mode of imposition is not through force but through deception. In the end, French women’s sole purpose in their society seem to be just baby-makers.
    From the time women cling unto these “apparent privileges”, they get to be in chain. In the end, they still needed to be a full-time mother and housekeeper despite the fact that they must also give their best in their job — a job wherein they aren’t the boss because of the accepted norm in their society that men are the ones who make it to the top of business or politics.
    They become in chain for they have given the society the babies they needed however, they will still suffer in the end from the responsibility over these children, for their husbands only focuses on their companies.
    Norms in their society, which are very patriarchal, and the state, which complies with these norms, provides French women their position in the society–including their being free and being in chain.

  19. John Vincent Vargas said

    John Vincent Vargas 2011-55270
    First ,let us define what Rousseau means of man is born free but is everywhere in chain. When man is born and still a baby for example, his freedom is to what extent his body can do .He can cry, crawl, sleep and others. That is man is born free. When we say but is everywhere in chain, the baby is free but has no choice but to follow what his parents want him to do. Example, he has nothing to do when his parents let him wear a Batman shirt, or what kind of toys to play with, or kind of milk to drink. To summarize, man is free but need to follow what the laws made by the sovereign.
    French women generally have the right as what the French men has, as long as they do household chores and take care of their children. They can have any number of children .But they are chained by the inequality, which hinder them to their full potential.
    The state create freedom for the French women by giving them the same training as men in school, giving freedom for abortion and birth control. And they are chained by state by imposing laws that they nothing to choose but to obey it. Example is the perennial therapy , the French women have no options but to follow or do it for the good because the state gives subsidies like allowance ,tax deductions and others. But the main problem is that male think that they are supreme than women. These make women more chained than free*, women have less opportunity than men in terms of politics and business even though they have the capability. The general will which for the greater good is compose of the will of males only.

    *this is based on my own opinion.

  20. Errol V. Jino-o said

    Women in France were free to do whatever they like, for as long as they do not disregard their obligations. Government offered them lots of beneficiaries and privileges, in order for them to enjoy their life. They almost have everything they wanted to be, for the state provides them every necessity they wanted such as the jobs they like and even in the exemption of tax to be paid to the government for as long as they have children. They do not even have problems with their children because there are lots of free all-day nursery schools in their towns when they will go to work. They are so lucky by these treatments of the society to them. Even though, those women are free, they are also in chain. Inequality is the one that makes French women in chain. Their privileges, compared to men are lesser, for men were always promoted in terms of positions and occupations in work and were always the one on top in terms of specializations and abilities. In terms of salary, men always got a higher payment compared that of women for their government did not resolve this problem. Women have more responsibilities compared to men for they were tasked to take good care of their children, to cook food for them and also to do the market job. With these all, French women were free but also in chain.

  21. Czarina Espejo said

    Getting “apparent privileges” such as free nursery schools, family allowances, tax deductions, discounts on high-speed trains, and a paid, four-month maternity leave, a woman will surely be just persuaded to have more babies.
    As a Filipino, it is already ideal for me to have only one child in the future but if I were a French woman and be given such “privileges”, I would surely be persuaded to bear more children.
    If this situation of French women be compared to Rousseau’s “man is born free but is everywhere in chain”, French women gets the freedom of having a lot of babies unlike those who were under the one-child policy of China. French women have the right to bear children whenever they like to and not to mention the “apparent privileges” that goes with it.
    I’d like to use the term “apparent privileges” because I see the benefits given to women as only the tool of the state to cover up the state’s genuine desire that they get more of the new generation. Their mode of imposition is not through force but through deception. In the end, French women’s sole purpose in their society seem to be just baby-makers.
    From the time women cling unto these “apparent privileges”, they get to be in chain. In the end, they still needed to be a full-time mother and housekeeper despite the fact that they must also give their best in their job — a job wherein they aren’t the boss because of the accepted norm in their society that men are the ones who make it to the top of business or politics.
    They become in chain for they have given the society the babies they needed however, they will still suffer in the end from the responsibility over these children, for their husbands only focuses on their companies.
    Norms in their society, which are very patriarchal, and the state, which complies with these norms, provides French women their position in the society–including their being free and being in chain.

  22. Jessa Mariae Redome BA Psychology 1 said

    Though the French women are greatly provided by their needs in the aspect of motherhood and childcare, they are chained by the society they are in, for they are in a society where all the tasks of a mother and household chores are entrusted to them. I think that they are not free at all. They are enslaved by a patriarchal society, wherein men got the authority and power in everything. It is stated in the text that they have lower salary than men though they are the ones who consumes anti-depressants the most. They were at the brink of exhaustion from all the work they’ve been because of being a woman, like what Ms. Toranian said in the text, they have to be superwoman. The French government looked the women as a reproductive material to have more children, for they believe that they need children for reconstructing their nation. The women are at a disadvantage in my perspective; they are under a sovereign where they are acknowledged because of their reproductive function. And since it has been like that, they strive to meet up the expectations of the society to call them “good mother” and continue on being like that. Since they are holding less power than men, and those were the thing s that they do for France and their family, then I can say that they are not free at all based on Rousseau’s idea.

  23. Charlotte Antoinnette Salvaleon said

    The moment you are born, you are free. It is evident in the article that in the society of France, men and women are not equal. French women are the most “exhausted” ones. Women in France – unlike in other places – have much more work; they have jobs and families to look after. Although, I could say that they are very fortunate because they have it all. They experience a lot of pampering after giving birth. They’re even given money by the government and pay fewer taxes just because they have babies. The fact is that they have it all but that does not mean equality as what the title states.
    French women have a lot of freedom. They have a choice whether or not to take care of their children or hire helpers, but the fact is that they are mothers. Naturally, as mothers you would act accordingly since you have procreated in your own free will. They live in luxury but that kind of lifestyle has a price. They are free to do whatever they want but then they are chained to abide by the demands of the society. Society expects their women to do extraordinary things like simultaneously having a job, giving birth and looking good after strenuous activities.
    The government has given them freedom wherein they set rules that enables the women to enjoy the privileges but it is up to the women whether or not to participate. The society is the one who set standards and the women are influenced by these standards without them knowing. Just like in our discussion, there is always a prominent figure that the baby follows. In the case of the French women, their prominent model is the society which influences the way they react and decide.

  24. Ariane Escorpiso said

    Although French women gets all those maternal benefits, child care services, tax exemptions, and allowances that would made any woman in the world envy, still there is one thing missing- equality between them and men in French society. They are free in a sense of having those extravagant settlements but at the same time in chain because of the deprivation of those opportunities they don’t enjoy as much compare to men. Unfortunately, unlike here in the Philippines, in France, they don’t get to experience having almost equal number of female to male politicians. Few women only top the business world, and they take pleasure only recently to the right of voting, working and even opening a bank account.

    Freedom of women in the French society is the allotment of huge importance in promoting feminine attitude by subsidizing perineal therapies and nursery schools. Through these, they can get back in shape and have good sex, and get back to their jobs as soonest possible. However, the society take for granted their right to have a say in the politics and commerce. Women do both domestic tasks and working even harder in their jobs but receiving salary far less than of men. Thus, the chain we mean created by the society are the restrictions and inequitable rights between men and women.

  25. Doreen Joy Sorolla said

    It is bittersweet to become a contemporary woman in France. Even though they are lucky enough that their government saves them from financial exhaustion, they are still battered from the exhaustion of carrying out the responsibilities and pressure unconsciously placed on their shoulders by the people. They are said to be just as free as men in terms of education and having jobs but they are chained by the society with expectations and established impressions as well as their own “feel” of being a good mother and housewife, that limit their ability to accomplish more.
    It seems like the French idea of women is still bound in the traditional role of women– to cook meals, take care of children, manage the house, do laundry,etc, but modern women are more than that. This was proven in the Philippine setting where we had females in high-ranking positions in the government.
    Because of the thought that women still have kids to take care of, working moms are somehow silently forcing themselves work on par with their male colleagues. Just giving themselves more pressure and responsibilities to carry. This is just sad. Men should also take part in the housekeeping and taking care of the kids. After all, they also comprise half of those little wailing machines, and more importantly, their home.

  26. Aika Mae G. Borbon said

    The article explains something about French women- that in the modern and urbanized country of France, there is still an inequality between men and women in their society- which is opposite to what I really thought.
    French women are actually free to a certain extent that they are not prohibited to do what they can do for their selves and for their family. They are allowed to have children as many as they want, to get any job even after they give birth to their children, to do their task as a mother whenever and wherever their work would allow them, to be good spouses to their husbands, and to look good. They are even supported by the government especially when it comes to family care. However, in their society, French women don’t receive the same treatment with the men. The French society has and follows this doxa wherein males are considered superior than females. In this matter, they are considered to be in chains to a certain extent that this discrimination would limit their freedom. In the article, women earn less even though they work longer and spend more money for domestic purposes than men. There are only few women who get high positions in their perspective companies and in the government.
    Even though France is a liberated country, its people are still locked in the thought that can’t be seen by everyone and which is normal to other countries.

  27. Kea Florentino said

    French woman are free in a sense that they are have the choice to have as much children as they want and the freedom to set a goal for themselves, like what profession they may chose but the society limits them from attaining this goal by excluding them from opportunities that although they may have the capacity to do well but are not given just because of the mere fact that they are woman. Example, a woman may work in her field but only to that extent, they are not given the privilege to attain a higher rank since most of it is given to men even though some woman have the capacity to do what men does and in some cases can even do better than men but are never given the chance to prove themselves.
    The government “frees” French women by giving them a state-paid after giving birth, monthly allowance for every child and given the choice by legalizing abortion and birth control.
    The problem in French society and other societies is that they feel like this is normal, that men will always come 1st and woman in 2nd. For me the government and society is to blame for this, they have instilled in people that it is and always will be like this. How can the government infuse equality on people if the people in the government themselves are gender bias. Just like in the article given, it is said that there should be equal number of men and women candidate on their party list but what did they do? They chose to pay the fines rather than to comply. Through this, woman’s freedom is becoming limited because judgements are considered true and it solidifies as chains that wrap us to our limitations.

  28. Andrea Faye A. Ingeniero said

    Jean Jacques Rousseau’s point about his concept “born free but everywhere in chain” is that when you were born, you were free as what the concept implies. You don’t know what is good and what is right. Your mind is not yet corrupted by the things around you. You are still young and untouched. But as you grow up, you learn those rules that you must abide which is instilled to us by the government.
    In the case of the French women, they are free in the sense that they are given all the privileges and benefits. They can do lots of things but there are also some prohibitions. They also legalize abortion and birth control in women and are subsidized by the government. They are free to decide whether they’ll abort their babies or not. They also have the liberty to choose on how many child they are going to take care of.
    Despite of these freedoms, they are still in chain in the sense that they have to work full time while most of their men are occupying the parliamentary seats. They have to work twice as much as men do but their salary is still not enough. French women are also in chain because children are still considered to be the responsibility of mothers. In short, they have the right to do what men do as long as they also take care of their children.
    Government has a big role in creating these chains and providing freedom because the government is the one who sets the rules that limits the freedom of the people. And these rules dictate the people of what is the right thing to do in a physical way.

  29. Maria Theresa P. Gane, Section 8 (10:00am-11:30am) said

    French women in their society are free. They can do whatever they want just like men. They can have the job that they want and the privileges after having a new born child, but between women and the things that they want to have lays a great barrier. They can’t have the fulfillment that they want from these things.
    Between women and their job, there is a fact that even if they work hard or give their all to the point of leaving their child on daycare centers just to work, they can’t be on top of the society. There is still a great percentage of men being members of the board, the executives, the department heads and be on the parliamentary seats. Men, being the “more superior beings” in the society set the chains to limit the reward for their hard work. It is questionable since both men and women worked hard, yet those seen in the higher positions are still men. Both parents have the right to reduce their hours until the child turns three. It is unfair since it shows that most women are doing this. They have jobs but the mother does everything for their child, yet both of them were given rights to take care of their child.
    The society gives the French women a choice whether to have babies just so their taxes would be lessened or not to have. But in a way, the society is forcing them in the idea that having babies would help them in their financial needs. Women are free to make their own choices, yet this choice is their only way to live the luxurious life they want to live. Overall, the society is setting their standards to women forcing them to be “free”, if you call it.

  30. Ena Dominique Villarete said

    “Stereotypes remain very much intact” – this is the phrase that made me realize that French women are already chained from the day they’re born. They may be born free in the literal sense, but I think that even as infants there’s already an invisible chain that binds them. The moment they begin to understand how things go within their family, even their perspective would be chained to the idea that when they grow up they are supposed to do what their mothers are doing. Once they involve themselves more in the society, that chain tightens for they would see that this situation doesn’t only happen in their family but also to the general public.

    The state provides them with the freedom to do what men do, but ironically this is the very thing that puts them in chains. It’s not freedom to its very core. It’s like giving a pair of wings to a stone and expecting it to fly. French women are treated like machines. They’re forced to be back in shape after giving birth, expected to provide the family with basic human needs and take on the greater portion on parenthood.

    This setting is similar to our society only that the state doesn’t provide subsidy for vaginal gymnastics. We say the Filipino family is patriarchal but it’s actually the mother who gets everything done. A line in the movie Anak says that if a man provides his family with their needs and sends his children to school, people will dub him as a great father but if a woman gives all these to her children even with all her heart and soul, still it isn’t enough for her to be called a good mother. This is indeed true not only to our society but also to the French.

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