Sylviane Agacinski

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Sylviane Agacinski
Delanoe Zenith 2008 02 27 n20.jpg
Sylviane Agacinski in 2008
Born (1945-05-04) 4 May 1945 (age 74)
Lionel Jospin (m. 1994)

Sylviane Agacinski-Jospin (born 4 May 1945) is a French philosopher, feminist, author, professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), and wife of Lionel Jospin, former Prime Minister of France.

Family life[edit]

Agacinski's parents were immigrants from Poland, and her sister is French actress Sophie Agacinski.[1][2] Agacinski is the mother of a son by philosopher Jacques Derrida, who directed the EHESS, and she became the stepmother of Lionel Jospin's two children with their marriage.[1][3]

Sylviane Agacinski with husband Lionel Jospin, 2008.

Lionel Jospin[edit]

Agacinski met Jospin in 1983, at her sister Sophie's wedding. They married 11 years later. She stayed on the sidelines in Jospin's candidacy for president in 1995, but was much more active in his candidacy for president in 2002. At that time she changed her name to Agacinski-Jospin to "bow to the will of the people", but continues to use her maiden name as a philosopher.[1] In the fall of 2002, after Jospin's surprise exclusion from the runoffs to Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen, Agacinski published Journal Interrompu, a book about the election in diary form, blaming Chirac, the French media, and the French left's internal rivalries.[4]


As a feminist philosopher, Agacinski is associated with "differentialism", an important strain of French feminism, which argues that the human condition cannot be understood in any universal way without reference to both sexes.[5] She's cited as writing, "We want to keep the freedom to seduce and be seduced. There will never be a war of the sexes in France," in her 1998 book, Sexual Politics.[6][7]

Parité amendment[edit]

In 1999, Agacinski was a leading originator of a bill to amend article three of the Constitution of France to include a phrase stating: "The law will encourage equal access for women and men to political life and elected posts."[8] With Jospin's support, the so-called "Parité"("Parity") amendment was made on June 28, 1999, and was followed by a law, on May 3, 2000, obliging the country’s political parties to present 50% female candidacies in virtually any race, or lose a corresponding share of their governmental campaign funding.[9] In the 2002 legislative elections, the first under the new law, Le Pen's National Front was among the few parties to come close to meeting the law, with 49% female candidates; Jospin's Socialists had 36%, and Chirac's UMP had 19.6%.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Paris Journal; A French Surprise: Yes, Candidates Have Wives", by Suzanne Daley, April 10, 2002, New York Times. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  2. ^ "Wives provide contrast in French race", Hugh Schofield, 25 March 2002, BBC News. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  3. ^ "Obituary:Jacques Derrida", by Derek Attridge and Thomas Baldwin, The Guardian, October 11, 2004. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  4. ^ "Politicus : Portrait of Jospin in defeat:his wife's diary doesn't dish", by John Vinocur, October 2, 2002, New York Times. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  5. ^ "With Gay Marriage, La Belle France Turns Conservative", by Christopher Caldwell, June 13, 2004, New York Times. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  6. ^ "Unlocking the Secrets of French Women", Debra Ollivier and Steven E. Levingston, Washington Post blog, October 21, 2009. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  7. ^ "Who Knew? The French Got Femininity Right", by Judith Warner, Washington Post, Sunday, June 3, 2001; Page B01. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  8. ^ "Boost to equality in French politics", by Jon Henley, The Guardian, 6 March 1999. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  9. ^ "Liberty, Equality, Sorority", by Jane Kramer, The New Yorker, May 29, 2000. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.
  10. ^ "Le Pen and his feminine side" by Clare Murphy, 28 May 2002, BBC News. Retrieved Jan 19, 2010.

External links[edit]