Feminism supports all women: A statement that cannot be argued against nor dismantled. True feminism uplifts women to the point of equality. But when vital feminist beliefs are put to the test, is it really so inclusive?
When I heard that Marine Le Pen was running for President of France, I felt a flux of emotions. Both proud of how much women have accomplished, and embarrassed that it had to be somebody who held such bigoted values. Embarrassed that she was being portrayed as a representation of feminists everywhere: which she shouldn’t be, by any means.
At its core, feminism provides a platform in which people can show their support for gender equality. But the deeper values of feminism also lie with integrity, truth and an honest acceptance for humanity as a whole: nobody is excluded. Being a far-right and openly xenophobic candidate, supporting Le Pen seems to undermine everything that the movement stands for. She made no secret that she was appealing to women through her campaign either; her attempts had been obvious. Changing the National Front party logo from a flame to a blue rose ran alongside her evident attempt to dress down in order to appear more approachable and relatable to the everyday woman – a woman who feared that her job was about to be taken by immigrants; this xenophobic fear was one that Le Pen ingrained on her female followers throughout her campaign.
To have a woman as President would be a notable feat. But that’s disregarding Le Pen’s true values: those of racism, intolerance and parochialism are something that feminism does not tolerate nor stand for. To say that one should support Marine Le Pen because of her gender is ignoring her character, and therefore dismissing the tolerant teachings of feminism at its most basic level. Yet many people appear to believe that all feminists should support her, despite her insularity and dismissiveness.
The far-right leader knew that she held a certain power over her feminist voters in that they didn’t want to seem unsupportive of a female candidate. Thankfully, Le Pen’s intolerance outshone any feminist values she claimed to have held. It goes without saying that she used her gender to give the National Front a veneer of respectability and modernity.
Paris feminist group the Femen movement claimed to have seen through Le Pen’s facade from the start of her campaign. They regularly intruded her public events, calling her a ‘fake feminist’ whilst having “Le Pen Top Fascist” written across their chests. They insisted that Le Pen was using women’s issues to push forward her xenophobic propaganda and that she had no real care for her women voters. In her 2017 manifesto, Marine Le Pen introduced 144 proposals in a 24-page long document: the word “women” only appears twice. To the Femen movement’s remarks, Le Pen called them “obscene harpies”.
Many women saw through the feminist facade Le Pen hid behind, and being a woman wasn’t enough to make her President. Instead, Emmanuel Macron won by a 66% landslide and promises to provide France with the unity this world so very much needs. Being a feminist does not mean that you are obligated to stand aside bigotry and hatred: even if that happens to come from a woman.