‘Je te crois’ (‘I believe you’): Pragmatics of a feminist slogan, or silencing and the scene of address in post-#MeToo France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the context of a failure of #MeToo in France and in light of the intrinsic limitations of this movement, ‘I believe you’ has become one of the battle cries of contemporary French feminism, appearing on protest signs during activist performances and demonstrations, but also on street-pastings disseminated in urban spaces by grassroots feminist collectives. Through a pragmatic analysis of this statement-slogan paradoxically addressed to everyone singularly and to no one in particular, this article demonstrates the performative dimension of post-#MeToo French feminism which aims at once to individually repair and collectively denounce the wrong caused by the silencing of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Building on Jean-François Lyotard’s philosophical elaboration of the phrastic mechanisms at stake in negationism, as well as feminist scholarship on believability, to demonstrate how the pragmatics of silencing throws survivors into a state of social death, I show how ‘I believe you’ – through the interplay of first- and second-person pronouns – allows the re-subjectivation of individual survivors who encounter it serendipitously in public spaces. Turning to the contextual analysis of activist configurations that have recently mobilized ‘je te crois’ in public space, I then show how this slogan creates feminist counter-spaces where the vulnerability of assembled bodies becomes the site of political subversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Empowerment
  • French feminism
  • hegemony and silencing
  • pronominal politics
  • public space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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