“What’s up with feminism?” – “Quoi le feminism ?” Project

It all begins on the 8th Ministry of Women’s Rights organizes an initiative – Every Day is the 8th of March – meant to highlight issues of gender and women’s rights. This initiative invites stakeholders, ranging from established organizations to newly-formed collectives, to organize an event every day of the year, and highlights the daily event on their website « Le 8 mars c’est toute l’année » (8marstoutelannee.fr).

Robert Dorit, Director of the Paris JYA Program and Professor of Biology at Smith College is invited to contribute to the initiative. He proposes creating a website that features interviews with a broad range of participants, in which each discusses the meanings of « feminism » and their personal relation to the concept. To create the site, he partners with film director Pauline Pelsy-Johann, a former French exchange student at Smith College.

Pauline Pelsy-Johann and her team -- Sarah Oquendo and Nathan Mauvois – thus undertake a series of interviews with both women and men in which each is asked to give their personal definition of the word « feminism ». She also enlists the aid of a small internet design firm, Ow-Lab, to help imagine the website. There, web designer Rony Turlet and data managers Guillaume Amangoua and Delphine Gauthier create the site (whatsupwithfeminism.org) ,which launches nine months later.

New interviews will be uploaded, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore and interact with multiple participants expressing a variety of viewpoints. Bonus material and unexpected surprises will be added throughout the year.

whatsupwithfeminism.org means to provide a rich and animated comparative perspective on what it means to be a woman or a man today. We urge you to visit the site and to contribute to the conversation. If you wish to participate in the debate, please contribute to the site by submitting your own video commentary (1-2 minutes maximum length) to pauline@quoilefeminisme.org. The last word is yours.

Pauline Pelsy-Johann quotes:
Upon my return to France, after having spent some time living in the US and in China, Robert Dorit, Director of the JYA Program in Paris, approached me with the idea of creating this site. I realized that as I was filming the interviews, I myself was searching for my own response to the word « feminism ». The term and its implications seemed complex, and at times contradictory. As I recorded the reflections of over 100 interviewees, I discovered a vast array of interpretations that have served to deepen and nuance my own reflections on the topic.
I think that our project lifts the veil on a topic that has once again become taboo. The word « feminism » today has been devalued, and has come to be seen as old-fashioned or irrelevant. It is hard to raise the issue of feminism without having to justify oneself. It is time once again to take back the debate, and to offer each of us a space in which to express our own definitions of and interactions with the word « feminism »
This project has given me the opportunity to meet women and men who have given generously of their time and have borne witness to their own doubts, struggles and convictions. This site is a team effort, and the members of the team behind this project have been invaluable. My thanks go out to Robert Dorit and Marie-Madeleine Charlier of the JYA Paris Program and to Laurie Fenlason at Smith College. My film crew -- Sarah Oquendo et Nathan Mauvois – were tireless and generous partners. I also extend my thanks to Nicolas Michel for the animations on the site, to Rony Turley, Guillaume Amangoua and Delphine Gauthier at Ow-Lab for the design and construction of a website that is both appealing and functional. What you are seeing now would have been impossible without the efforts, creativity and energy of all involved.
There are fascinating differences, as well as important similarities, between American and French conceptions of feminism,” said Dorit. “This felt like an opportunity for Smith to scrutinize those differences, and to re-examine why feminism remains a live issue. We wanted to create a contribution that was visually appealing, and something that was live and dynamic.
My hope is that the site will keep evolving,” said Dorit.