Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Apparently the daughter of the founder of:

Publicis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Publicis Groupe (Euronext: PUB) is a French multinational advertising and communications company. It is one of the big four global advertising holding companies (the others being Omnicom, Interpublic and WPP). Its current president is Maurice Lévy. Publicis Groupe S.A. provides traditional advertising, media services, and specialized agencies and marketing services SAMS) to national and multinational clients. Its traditional advertising services principally involve the creation of advertising for products, services, and brands. It also include strategic planning involving analysis of a product, service, or brand compared to its competitors through market research, sociological and psychological studies, and creative insight.

I thought I'd mention that in passing, in case it might seem relevant.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 09:14:37 PM EST
ThatBritGuy: I thought I'd mention that in passing, in case it might seem relevant.

Yeah, I noted that as well, but decided not to point it out for the time being in the hopes of seeing a discussion focusing on the substance of her remarks.  Having said that, the relevance of personal background is a continuum, and I myself felt that her having three children was relevant enough to point out in the introduction.

In any case, since there is not much discussion going on anyway, no harm in discussing her Publicis connection.  Which might, I would venture to guess, partly explain why she has cropped up in multiple prominent journals recently:  besides this Libération interview, there is this interview -- The Undoing of Mothers -- in L'Express; another interivew -- Women are not chimpanzees -- in BibliObs; the literary supplement to the Nouvel Observateur, yet another interview -- Elisabeth Badinter : "Let us stop having a single notion of the fair sex" -- in Le Monde; and an article -- Elisabeth Badinter at war against the tyranny of mothers -- in Le Point.  She definitely knows how to make a splash.  Might she have used her Publicis connections (not only as daughter of the founder, but 10% stock owner and member of Publicis' conseil de surveillance (not sure if that is "supervisory board" or "board of trustees", but in either case, it implies a fairly hefty position)?  Was her impressive media splash facilitated by the fact that she is married to a high-profile French ... politician (who incidentally got into the media himself recently in a tiff with Rachida Dati)?  All speculation, but indeed possibly very relevant to her desire to sell her new book.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 02:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Morning billet by email from journalist/media critic Daniel Schneidermann last week:

Démarrant quelques jours après le déferlement BHL, il faut se préparer à subir un déferlement Badinter (Elizabeth). La philosophe publiant un livre, France Inter lui ouvre, aujourd'hui jeudi, toute son antenne, de l'interview du matin, au Téléphone sonne du soir. Pour un jour, France Inter devient Radio Badinter, promouvant la pensée badinterienne au statut de pensée officielle. Si l'on comprend bien son interview chez Demorand, Badinter proteste aujourd'hui contre l'injonction implicite, qui serait faite aux mères depuis le début de la crise, de rentrer à la maison, de renoncer à travailler, d'allaiter leurs enfants, de leur préparer des brocolis bio plutôt que de leur servir des petits pots tout préparés, et de revenir aux couches lavables, de préférence aux couc hes jetables (non biodégradables certes, mais dont l'invention, selon Badinter, marqua un progrès décisif de l'émanciupation féminine).A few days after the BHL wave, we have to face a Badinter (Elizabeth) wave. The philosopher is publishing a book, so France Inter offers her its airwaves today, from the morning interview to the evening phone-in show. For a day, France Inter becomes Radio Badinter, promoting Badinterian thought to official status. If we're right about what she said in her interview with Demorand, Badinter is protesting today against the implicit injunction allegedly aimed at mothers since the crisis began, to go back home, give up work, breastfeed their children, cook them organic broccoli rather than serve up ready-made from little jars, and go back to washable nappies rather than throwaways (perhaps not biodegradable, but according to Badinter a decisive progress in feminine emancipation).
Pourquoi pas ? Il faut débattre de tout. On a parfaitement le droit d'opposer l'écologie au féminisme, les droits des femmes à ceux de la nature, et de fouiller, entre les deux, des oppositions ou des contradictions. On a parfaitement le droit de soutenir que l'émancipation féminine passe par le travail. Mais une petite chose est gênante, à chaque retour de Badinter sur la scène publique. Un détail. Trois fois rien. Mais tout de même. Une de ses "casquettes", comme on dit, n'est jamais rappelée par les intervieweurs fascinés (et encore pas par Demorand, en préalable à son interview de ce matin) : outre son estimable activité de philosophe et d'écrivain, Elizabeth Badinter, fille et héritière de Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, fondateur de Publicis, est aujourd'hui la deuxième actionnaire, et la présidente du conseil de surveillance de la multinationale publicitaire.Why not? We should debate about averything. A person has a perfect right to oppose ecology and feminism, women's rights and those of nature, and to work out oppositions and contradictions between the two. And there's a perfect right to argue that feminine emancipation comes about through work. But one little thing is niggling, each time Badinter comes back on to the public stage. A detail. A tiny one, but all the same. One of her "hats", as they say, is never mentioned by her fascinated interviewers (and not by Demorand in his interview intro this morning): beyond her highly considered activity as a philosopher and writer, Elizabeth Badinter, daughter and heiress of Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, founder of Publicis, is today the second biggest shareholder, and chair of the Supervisory Board of the advertising multinational.
Cela ne la prive évidemment pas du droit de penser, et d'écrire. On peut régner sur les pages en quadrichromie des magazines, sur les affiches porno soft des abribus, et faire profession de philosopher sur l'émancipation féminine. On peut, et  la constance de Badinter témoigne de la sincérité de ses convictions. Mais ce double statut a toujours généré, dans la production philosophique badinterienne, un point aveugle : la violence de l'injonction publicitaire faite aux femmes. Crême-toi matin et soir, épile-toi pour ressembler aux actrices porno, sois aussi mince que les squelettes que tu vois défiler dans les pages mode, et consomme, consomme, consomme, achète, fais chauffer le chéquier, pour être enfin parfaitement, totalement libérée. Vu de ma fenêtre de matinaute mâle, cette injonction-là, qui se déploie à chaque dos de kiosque, à chaque coin de rue, semble au moins aussi terroriste que l'injonction à rentrer à la maison, et à revenir aux couches lavables. Mais Badinter, philosophe publicitaire, ne la voit pas.
That obviously doesn't remover her right to think and write. One may reign over the glossy colour pages of the magazines and the soft porn posters on bus-stop shelters, and profess to be a philosopher of feminine emancipation. Yes, one may - and Badinter's constance is a testimony to the sincerity of her convictions. But this dual status has always created, in Badinter's philosophic output, a blind spot: the violence of the advertising injunction aimed at women. Cream up morning and evening, depilate to look like a porn-star, be as thin as the skeletons you see catwalking through the fashion pages, and consume, consume, consume, buy, heat up the cheque-book, so you can be at last perfectly, totally free. Seen from my male morning Internet window, that injunction, plain to see behind each news-stand, on every corner of the street, seems at least as terroristic as the injunction to go home and go back to washable nappies. But Badinter, advertising philosopher, doesn't see it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 02:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a tricky game to second-guess the biases, interests and ulterior motives of the author, whether conscious or unconscious, as Schneider concedes:

Cela ne la prive évidemment pas du droit de penser, et d'écrire. On peut régner sur les pages en quadrichromie des magazines, sur les affiches porno soft des abribus, et faire profession de philosopher sur l'émancipation féminine. On peut, et  la constance de Badinter témoigne de la sincérité de ses convictions.That obviously doesn't remove her right to think and write. One may reign over the glossy colour pages of the magazines and the soft porn posters on bus-stop shelters, and profess to be a philosopher of feminine emancipation. Yes, one may - and Badinter's constance is a testimony to the sincerity of her convictions.

But since we are already going there, I have to admit that Schneider's emphasis on the the violence of the advertising injunction aimed at women (the dark works of Publicis, we are meant to infer) did cast Badinter's comments in the following passage in a new light for me:

En même temps, on a assisté à la remise en cause du consumérisme. L'idée s'est imposée qu'on faisait fausse route dans la course aux ambitions inutiles et qu'une autre vie, plus conforme à la nature, était possible. Beaucoup de femmes ont été sensibles à ce discours. Et se sont dit : «Et si je prenais comme objectif de m'occuper de mon petit enfant, bref, d'être la mère idéale ?» Cela s'accompagne d'une critique générale du progrès scientifique, de la science «vendue à l'industrie». On s'est également précipité pour instaurer un principe de précaution. Tout cela a engendré de nouveaux comportements, de nouvelles peurs, propices à un retour aux fondamentaux.At the same time, consumerism is looked upon more critically. The notion has taken hold that we've been on a blind path in race towards pointless ambitions, and that another life, more compatible with nature, is possible. Many women have been receptive to this view. And so they asked themselves, "What if I made it my [primary] goal to take care of my little child, in short, to be the perfect mother?" Along with this goes an overall criticism of scientific progress, of science "sold to industry". Everyone is suddenly so cautious about everything. All this has created new behaviors, new fears, that lead to a return to fundamentals.


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 03:43:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I meant Schneidermann.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 03:50:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I think she's definitely opposing ecology to progress, as some on the left do wrt economic and social questions. Progress for her is associated with consumerism and scientism (as in, once an expert committee has said something is good for you or does not harm the environment, that is all you need to know). And she's equating any questioning of those two -isms with regression on the front of women's emancipation. It's not so much men she's targeting as green and anti-consumer society thinking.

So the fact that she's in the French Fortune 500 thanks to an international advertising major does kind of jar.

I say this with considerable respect for her and, my word, her husband, one of the best in the French political world, and the pilot of capital punishment abolition in the '80s.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 06:21:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't so much jar as - let's say - put a new light on her arguments.

Effectively she's arguing that women shouldn't be stay at home mom-chimps, but should be happy corporate and capitalist worker bees instead.

Well, okay. Is that really a feminist argument, or even a progressive one?

The fact that she has connections who stand to profit from her position is surely coincidental.

I agree that comparing her to Pat Robertson is something of a stretch. But coming at this as someone who has never heard of her before, I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that she's really preaching a kind of industrial capitalist evangelism, and pretending - not very convincingly - that it's the only acceptable form of personal empowerment.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 07:28:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the perspective and clarifications.

afew: Progress for her is associated with consumerism and scientism

Would she come out and say that publicly?  If not, is it something that she would admit to herself?  So out of step with the times are these -isms ("consumerism" and "scientism"), it seems to me, that ironically it is much of her own views that seem to be un retour en arrière.

Having said that, I wonder if she has a valid point insofar as she identifies extremists whose green/ anti-technology/anti-consumerist proselytizing goes too far, pressuring and seducing with new ideologies, even new mythologies, that are not based in reality/reason/evidence.  For example, biofuels were touted briefly but widely by the media as a clean and sustainable form of energy.  But various problems with these, most significantly, environmental and health problems, seem to have killed the trendiness of biofuels -- which, were they to continue to be embraced, might have significant adverse effects on the planet.  In the case of biofuels, reason and evidence seem to have prevailed.  Maybe Badinter is concerned that reason and evidence are ceding to romanticized ideals and over-simplification when it comes to other issues that bear on women's well-being directly: e.g. how much control and freedom they have over own time (wash reusable cloth diapers or use disposable ones, breast-feed or use baby formula, jarred food or home-made purée, etc.), what professional alternatives they have (have kids or not, give up work or stay at work, ask husband to give up work or give up work herself), and so on.  And in some cases, the consequences can be quite serious, as in refusing to have their children vaccinated on fears that they will result in bad side-effects (e.g. concerns that autism can be caused by the MMR vaccine).  I hear these conversations, debates, and fights happening privately among family members and friends with young children, so it intrigued me to hear someone address them so directly, if incitingly, in such a huge public forum.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 07:38:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
marco:
Would she come out and say that publicly?

Surely not :)

marco:

if she has a valid point insofar as she identifies extremists

Oh, identifying extremists is a valid way of presenting what one claims to be broad social phenomena?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 08:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew: Oh, identifying extremists is a valid way of presenting what one claims to be broad social phenomena?

no.  but your point is well taken.  identifying and discussing extremists is treacherous stuff (no pun intended), as post-9/11 Bushism has made all too clear (again).  but just because this sort of discourse is sometimes often conducted in bad faith and abused , it does not mean that where there is smoke, there is never fire.  and regarding some of the issues that Badinter brings up, i think there is evidence of fire, since i have come into contact with it myself.  of course, i may be in the extreme minority and the fire may be minute.  but since there is very little public discussion about it -- and because i haven't dug into sociological statistics and research papers about it -- i cannot say.  that Badinter points to these issues in her book and interviews turned what i thought to be a fringe phenomenon limited to my atypical personal experience into one that might concern more people than i had imagined.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 09:38:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're thrown back, to a considerable extent, on anecdote, unless we were to pull out some opinion polls. And I think things are more nuanced than Badinter seems to be saying ("seems" because I haven't read the book she's promoting).

Anecdote: in hour or two I'll be at the for-the-moment-fortnightly delivery meeting of our local food association. Plenty of people there who'd rather feed their kids fresh produce than stuff from the Lidl down the road. Yet all the women there have jobs. Some are greener-minded than others, so washable nappies are probably on the agenda for those. Possibly among these couples (a high proportion of youngish ones with children), tasks are more equally shared between the partners, making the choice possible. There are more women than men who come to pick their orders up at the delivery point, but the association is overwhelmingly composed of and supported by couples, not just the mums alone.

As to breastfeeding, I shall have to conduct an enquiry. Maternal leave makes it an option (though maternal leave is considered a career drawback by many, particularly employers). As to vaccination, there are surely some anti-vaccinites in the group, and just as surely some pro-, and some in the middle (like this forum?). But I don't get the impression, at all, that I'm surrounded by obscurantists or that the women I meet there are under cultural pressure to be traditional home-makers and child-rearers.

If one were able to put together some data on this, I think it would be necessary at the same time to compare the sales graphs of ready-made processed foodstuffs that get three minutes in the microwave because it saves time. My (anecdotal but certain) impression is that the supermarket space devoted to these products has increased many-fold over the last couple of decades. My feeling is that, if there is a broad social phenomenon to study in all this, it would be that aspect first and foremost. I wonder if Elisabeth Badinter discusses it much in her book.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 11:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew: ("seems" because I haven't read the book she's promoting)

Nor I.  Searching for excerpts and extracts -- in particular, any that might contain sociological data on which she bases her arguments -- I came upon a very good blog post/review (in French), which interestingly quotes Badinter admitting that the social developments she critiques are still peripheral in France:

Mais elle reconnaît que tout ce qu'elle combat est assez peu présent en France (cf. son dernier chapitre).
Pour l'heure, les Françaises échappent au dilemne du tout ou rien. Elles avaient déjà bien résisté aux oukases de certains pédiatres ; tiendront-elles face à ceux des naturalismes ? Sauront-elles imposer leurs désirs et leur volonté contre le discours rampant de la culpabilité ?. Et de conclure "Il semble que les jeunes femmes continuent largement à n'en faire qu'à leur tête. Jusqu'à quand ?
But she recognizes that everything she is fighting against is rather scarce in France (cf. her last chapter).
For the moment, French women have escaped the all or nothing dilemma. They've resisted well enough the fatwās [ukases in the original French] of certain pediatricians; will they stand up to those of the naturalists? Will they be able to affirm their own desires and will against the rampant rhetoric of guilt? And to ensure that "It seems that young women continue to much as they please" will remain true. Until when?

This blogger links to two other reviews/commentaries on other French blogs, as well as several media links.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 12:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot the link to that blog:

En aparté - Chroniques autour de la conciliation vie privée / vie professionnelle et des valeurs du travail

"Le conflit : la femme et la mère" d'Elisabeth Badinter


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 01:50:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For what it's worth, here's the book's blurb on Amazon:

Le conflit: Elisabeth Badinter: Amazon.frThe Conflict: Elisabeth Badinter: Amazon.fr
Elisabeth Badinter reprend la plume pour un nouvel essai : 'Le conflit. La mère et la femme'.
Elle constate un repli inquiétant sur le terrain des droits des femmes, lequel se manifeste, par exemple, par la forte baisse de la natalité dans tous les pays développés (bien moins nettement en France comme on sait), la hausse conjointe du nombre de femmes qui ne veulent pas avoir d'enfant (en dix ans, la proportion a doublé), le regain des discours naturalistes visant à river les femmes à leur rôle de mère, et plus spécifiquement par le biais d'un diktat concernant l'allaitement
La barque de la maternité est aujourd'hui chargée de trop d'attentes, de contraintes, d'obligations. Il y a péril tant pour la femme et le couple que pour le lien social : quelle perspective offre une société où le fait d'avoir un enfant serait le lieu d'un clivage fatidique ?
Elisabeth Badinter takes up her quill again with Conflict. Mother and Woman
She notes a worrying reversal in the area of women's rights, which is manifested in a significant drop in birth rates in all developing countries (much less so in France, as we know), the accompanying rise in the number of women who do not want to have children (in ten years, the proportion has doubled), the resurgence of naturalist views aimed at tying women down in the role of mother, and more specifically in the diktat about breast-feeding.
Today the raft of motherhood has been loaded with too many expectations, constraints and obligations. There is a danger for both the woman and the couple as well as for the social bond: what prospects does society offer when having a child becomes a zone of fateful division?


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 12:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series