Speech by Tatiana F. Salomon at Société Générale, La Défense, 1 June 2021
Today, we are pleased to celebrate our partnership and to formalize the commitment with Societe Generale official; which at the same time is a mark of commitment to society in general.
If you will allow me a personal anecdote, I would like to say a brief word or two about my grandfather, who just happened to be a banker. He was rather peculiar: he always walked barefoot to stay grounded. He dressed in white, he said, to remain neutral. He also cultivated the land with a passion and he always told me to be wary of those who claim that women and men are complementary. Because he saw it as an obstacle to the emancipation of both genders, something that was very dear to his heart.
Like him, I think if women and men can be said to be complementary, it is only in the sense that all human beings are complementary to one another, by way of their individual singularity. No. Men and women are not complementary: they are quite simply equal. Fundamentally, ontologically, equal.
Historical heritage, however, has led to a distribution of roles which, obviously, cannot be entirely neutral. Indeed, it has been accompanied by the establishment of a hierarchy, which is deeply rooted in society and which has led to a difference in value and in resources between the sexes, of course – men almost always prevailing over women. It is a fact.
The #JamaisSansElles movement believes we are first and foremost – before being considered a woman or a man – free human beings equal in dignity and rights. Therefore, every time we sign a Charter with a new partner, I point out that for us it is not a question of combating men in the name of a war against patriarchal oppression and it is even less a question of asserting vengeful leadership that henceforth should be carried out by women. Women are not asking for gifts or favors. They want simple recognition for their full and complete legitimacy. They represent half of humanity. No more, no less.
In working with the business world, and national representatives (and beyond) to break through the glass ceiling, our intention is to show everyone that it is perfectly natural for women and men to take their place together in all areas of society and to jointly participate in the handling of human affairs. In the name of equity. And in the name of the most basic human principles.
This year we proposed a ‘non-agression’ pact between women and men. Our desire in using this phrase, slightly provocative perhaps, is to call attention to the need for conciliation and to the need to lay down conditions for genuine listening and true respect, prior to any subsequent exchange. We all know that the word of a woman is immediately considered to be of less value or of less significance – even by women themselves sometimes. Naturally, this is not about denying or suppressing disagreements that exist and continue to exist. Still, if there is sincere respect then it is possible to agree to disagree; to move forward together towards that which unites us nevertheless. Mutual trust is the key to a new paradigm we can build together.
You know that we are proud to proclaim our humanist heritage, which we do not hesitate to repeat whenever possible: Our feminism is humanism!
#JamaisSansElles is not calling for gender solidarity. We are calling for univeral solidarity. Not a settling of scores between supposed female victims and supposed male predators; rather, reconciliation for all in the name of our shared humanity.
Everyone can see it: we are at a critical juncture. The world is teetering under the pressure of extremes. The planet is damaged. Racism, anti-semitism, separatism and obscurantism threaten. Not to mention the ongoing pandemic!
To move towards what unites us. Without denying what divides us. To assert the right of every individual to be considered free and responsible, for oneself and others (as both Dostoevsky and Levinas would say): for #JamaisSansElles this is the simple principle on which we believe the transformation of society should be founded.
Women must play their full part as the actors and promoters of the transformation. Not for the purpose of remaking the world like new demiurges, but rather to help it evolve into a world that is more just, more authentic, good and beautiful!
I think – we think – it is possible. And that together, we will succeed.
Thank you for your confidence! Long live life!
Tatiana F. Salomon, co-President of #JamaisSansElles
See Charter here