Programmed by Naomie Décarie-Daigneault
This documentary about abortion was made when it was still illegal in France. It looks at why women decide not to keep their child and how an abortion is carried out according to the Karman method. The film also shows the first women’s demonstration in favour of abortion held on November 20, 1971.
A word from Tënk
Among the many blind spots for which May ’68 (or the mythic rereading that we make of it) can be critiqued, the most critical is, without a doubt, the invisibilization of women. Women were certainly in the streets. They simply weren’t given the opportunity to speak publicly. But the spark of the feminist movement to come, which would take shape in the creation of the Women’s Liberation Movement (MLF in French) in 1970, were undeniably present. Its flames were fanned by revolutionary discourse, the movement against sexual repression taking place on university campuses, and even by the ever-present machismo that women in the ’68 movement were subjected to, leading to the creation of women’s-only groups.
In this film from Carole Roussopoulos, a leading figure in feminist film and an activist from that era, we find ourselves three years in the future, in 1971. Women have mobilized and developed their own movement objectives. Here, it’s the legalization of abortion and access to contraception for minors. Abortion was still illegal in France, but its people were beginning to freely discuss the issue, chipping away at the layers of social hypocrisy in place. In April, the Manifesto of the 343 was published, in which 343 women publicly admitted to having had abortions, in defiance of the prison time they risked for such a declaration. An unprecedented document that brings us into the heart of this revolutionary fight for a sexuality free from fear and a relationship to one’s own body as a subject. Y’a qu’à pas baiser! (“Just Keep Your Legs Closed!”) includes a scene, filmed in real time, of an aspiration abortion using the Karman method, still illegal at the time of filming. The closing chant, like a great wave that clears everything in its path, fills the viewer with all the drunken joy of reclaimed freedom. Women were standing up and the struggle was vibrant.
Tënk’s Artistic Director