Christine Delphy

Christine Delphy (n. Paris 1941 ) is a feminist, writer and theoretical sociologist. She was co -founder of the Women ‘s Liberation Movement in 1970 and the Questions Feministes (1977-80) and Nouvelles questions feministes (1980-present) New feminist questions) with Simone de Beauvoir.

Delphy is a researcher and feminist activist, pioneer of the second wave of the feminist movement in France and author of important analyzes on gender inequalities. She is recognized as one of the main architects of contemporary feminist thinking, founder of the theoretical current of materialist feminism . 1

Pioneer in France in the analyzes on the articulation of the inequalities provoked by the sexism, the classism and the racism, their contributions are similar to the post-colonial studies, being also close to the symbolic interactionism. 2 Nowadays it maintains its feminist activism and its opinions on the war, the Islamic veil, the situation of the Muslim population in France generate controversy. 3


He was born in Paris. Her parents ran a local pharmacy. In the documentary “Je ne suis pas feministe, mais …” Delphy describes her early feminist conscience by attending to her parents: both worked in the pharmacy but on her return home her father put his feet up to rest and read the newspaper While her mother made the midday meal and then returned home. 4

She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Quebec (1998) and has been working at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in Paris since 1966, where she is currently Director of Emeritus Research.

Along with her research work, Christine Delphy has contributed to the development of feminist studies. In 1977 he co-founded with the four researchers and Simone de Beauvoir the magazine Questions Féministes , the first magazine of its kind in France and one of the first in Europe. In 1981 the publication was refounded as Nouvelles Questions Féministes and is still maintained today (2015) enjoying an important international prestige. 5 After the death of Simone De Beauvoir , Christine Delphy took over the direction of the publication and was also director of the editorial committee, a position she now shares with Patricia Roux, a professor of gender studies at the University of Lausanne .

She has been publicly recognized lesbian 6 and was an activist member of the Gouines rouges . 7

In 2015, the documentary “Je ne suis feministe, mais …” is published, which intertwines the life of the sociologist with the history of French feminism of her time. Referring to Fig.

Feminist materialism

The originality and interest of his work reside in their socio-economic analysis of the Patriarchate, demonstrating that persistent inequalities between women and men in the labor market are based on the exploitation of domestic labor of women, 9 thesis includes mainly L ‘Main ennemi. Economie politique du patriarcat (1998). 10

Starting from rural sociology and field studies on heritage transmission, Christine Delphy evolved into the sociology of the family. For the author, the family is an economic structure, not only as regards transmission – inheritance and succession – but also as far as production is concerned. She has developed the concept of domestic mode of production, a theoretical innovation that has been argued through dozens of articles and numerous books, a concept commonly used today by sociologists in the family.

Another important scientific contribution collected in L’ennemi principal. Penser le genre (2001) , 11 is his analysis of the concept of gender. From the early 1980s he argues that “gender precedes sex”, that is, hierarchy and power relations that induce the sexual division of society, and not the other way around.

The works of Christine Delphy are framed within the constructivist sociological currents, and therefore are opposed to the feminist theories of the difference . Delphy theorizes gender as a social construction inscribed in social structures, and thus understands social functioning in terms of system, moving away from poststructuralist currents in which queer theory is framed , which explains gender essentially from its performative aspect And discursive.


Since the end of the 1970s his work has been published in Britain, the United States and France and his works have been translated into several languages: English, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Italian and German.

His first four books were published in English and Spanish: “The main enemy” (London) (1977); ” For a materialistic feminism. The main enemy and other texts “(La Sal-Unfinished Notebooks 2-3, Barcelona) (1982); “Close to home” (University of Massachusetts) (1984); “Family Exploitation: A New Analysis of Marriage in Contemporary Western Societies” (Oxford Polity Press) (1992).

In addition Delphy has written more than seventy articles in scientific journals and in collective books, as well as many articles of popularization in newspapers and political magazines such as Politis or Le Monde Diplomatique. Among the numerous collective publications in which she has participated, we should highlight ” Women: science and political practice ” (1985) with Celia Amorós , Lourdes Benería , Hilary Rose and Verena Stolcke . 12

In 1999 she organized the international congress in Paris: The 50th Anniversary of the Second Sex to celebrate the publication of this book that founded the second wave of feminism. Feminist researchers and academics from 37 different countries met, and this event led to the publication of a film (“Des Fleurs pour Simone De Beauvoir”, 2007, directed by Carole Roussopoulos and Arlène Shale ) and a book entitledLe Cinquantenaire Du Deuxième sexe “, coordinated together with the historian Sylvie Chaperon . 13

His book, ” Classer, dominer. Who are the “autres”? “Published in October 2008, is an anthology of articles, papers and interventions presented during ten years where it denounces relentlessly the rise of racism and Islamophobia, exposing, among other injustices, the imposture of” a war to liberate women Afghans “or the exclusion of young Muslim women from the education system in France.


Delphy participated in 1968 in the construction of one of the founding groups of the Women’s Liberation Movement, the FMA – Female, Male, Future group that in 1969 was renamed Feminism, Marxism Action with Emmanuele de Lesseps , Anne Zelensky and Jacqueline Feldman -Hogasen.

This group met with others (in which they participated of Gille and Monique Wittig , Christiane Rochefort , Micha Garrigue , Margaret Stephenson ) to form MLF in August of 1970; In September of the same year, the same people created a subgroup of MLF: Revolutionary Feminists that existed until 1977 with long interruptions.

In November 1970, he founded with Anne Zelensky and other feminists the MLA – Movement for the Freedom of Abortion – precursor of the MLAC. With Zelensky he organized the Manifesto of the 343 in which they blamed themselves for practicing abortions. It was the beginning of a long campaign that culminated when the government of Valery Giscard d’Estaing , approved the Veil Law , legalizing abortion. 14

In 1971 with Monique Wittig (and others) was founded the Gouines rouges , from the groups of debate for lesbians .

In 1976, he participated in the campaign against rape.

In 1977, she participated in the founding of the first French magazine for women’s studies: Cuestions Feministes (QF), which in 1980 was re-founded under the name Nouvelles Questions féministes (NQF), which is still published . 5 The journal allowed the introduction, among other themes, of materialistic feminism and the concept of gender. Both magazines were founded with the active support of Simone de Beauvoir , who was editor-in-chief until her death.

In 1998 Sylvie Chaperon organized the first scientific symposium on the work of Simone de Beauvoir , which was held in Paris in January 1999 under the title: Fiftieth Anniversary of The Second Sex , whose debates were published in 2001 in a book of the same name.

In 2001, while co-chair of the Copernican Foundation, the denunciation of US intervention in Afghanistan was raised, and faced with the refusal of the organization to position itself founded with Willy Pelletier (coordinator of Copernicus) and others Members of the left (including Catherine Levy , Daniel Bensaid , Jacques Bidet , Annie Bidet, Nils Anderson, Henri Maler and Dominique Lévy) the International Coalition Against the War . 15 In March 2002, she published in Le Monde Diplomatique “A War for Afghan Women?” 16 Denouncing the use as a pretext for feminism on issues to justify a war that she considered necolonial. creation of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp . in 2007, following comments on the afghanas women journalist Francoise Causse, author of a book critical of French policy in Afghanistan denounced the “lack of rigor” and superficiality of his analysis in a article entitled “dangerous Delphy thesis.” 17 his comments on the Afghan burqa and women activate other reactions reproaching their “simplistic comparisons.” 18

Delphy believes that the same instrumentalization of feminism occurs in the debate over the prohibition of the Islamic headscarf in school. 19 Signed two petitions against the law in 2003 and in 2004 participated in the creation of a “Collective of feminists for equality” association, which will be the first president and the group “A school for all”. He writes extensively on this subject, highlighting three texts: “l’intervention contre une loi d’exclusion” 20(Intervention against a law of exclusion), “Race, caste et genre” 21 (Race, caste and gender) and “Antisexisme or antiracisme : A faux dilemme »” Antisexism or antiracism: a false dilemma “. Delphy was also one of the signatories of a tribune 22 denouncing the policy adopted for three years by the Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples (MRAP), at its congress on 30 March and 1 April 2012 in Bobigny , Referring to “anti-white racism”.

For Christine Delphy, the debate over the Islamist veil linked to Islamophobia has ancient roots: “The Arab-Muslim population has long been targeted … This rejection does not date from yesterday, it is fueled by the arrogance of the West against After the Middle East by the French and the English, the first Gulf War was declared (1991), the war in Afghanistan ( 2001) and the second Gulf War against Iraq (2003) All these classic imperialist maneuvers of major countries against the rest of the world have always been based on an ideology that includes racist stereotypes. 2. 3

In 2004-2005, he participated in the creation of the Indigenous movement of the Republic to denounce the “racist and colonial” republic. 24

In 2011, he is one of the signatories of a manifesto that express “support against Charlie Hebdo” and denounce the difference in political and media treatment between a fire caused in the newspaper for being targeted by radicals and silence made in other attacks Criminals, such as the one that occurred at the same time in a building occupied by people of gypsy ethnicity that caused the death of one of them. 25

On November 30, 2015, he was among the signatories of the Appeal of the 58 to defend the freedom to demonstrate during the state of emergency decreed after the Paris bombings. 26


Individual Works

  • The Main Enemy , WRRCP, London, 1977
  • For a materialistic feminism , La Sal, Barcelona, ​​1982
  • Close to Home , biblio. & Index, London, Hutchinson, & The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984
  • Family Exploitation: A New Analysis of Marriage in Contemporary Western Societies with Diana Leonard, {{{2}}} 1992
  • L’ennemi principal (Tome 1): économie politique du patriarcat , Paris, Syllepse , 1998. (Réédité en 2009 par Syllepse , ISBN 2849501980
  • L’ennemi principal (Tome 2): penser le genre , Paris, Syllepse , Paris, 2001. (Réédité en 2009 par Syllepse , ISBN 2907993887
  • Classer, dominer: qui sont les autres , Paris, La Fabrique, 2008, ISBN 978-2-913372-82-5
  • A universalisme si particulier, Féminisme et exception française , Paris, Syllepse , 2010, ISBN 978-2-84950-264-8

Collective works

  • Cinquantenaire du Deuxième sexe (dir. Avec Sylvie Chaperon), Paris, Syllepse, 2001.
  • Le foulard islamique en questions , Paris, Éditions Amsterdam 2004.
  • A troussage of domestique (dir.), Paris, Syllepse, 2011, Syllepse , ISBN 978-2-84950-328-7


  • “Gender, race and racism: prohibition of the Islamic veil (hijab) in France” , in the publication of the 1st International Congress “Law, Gender and Equality.” Changes in legal androcentric structures “(coordinated by Daniela Heim and Encarna Bodelón, 2010 ). [2]
  • “The current challenges of feminism” 27 Le Monde Diplomatique, May 2004.
  • ” Réflexions sur les moyens politiques d’imposer en fin l’égalité hommes-femmes” 28 (2005) ” Parité, discrimination positive et universalisme à la française
  • Antisexisme or antiracisme? A faux dilemme29 (2009).
  • Une guerre juste pour les femmes afghanes?16


  • Je ne suis pas féministe mais … (2015) By Florence Tissot and Sylvie Tissot. 52 minutes on the life of Christine Delfpy 4 “I’m not a feminist, but …” the expression is used by Christine Delphy during a 1995 broadcast in which she participates with Simone de Beauvoir. It is the ritual phrase that many women have ever pronounced for fear of using a stigmatized word but to authorize it by expressing a desire for equality. The film mixes filmed interviews and archive footage of this feminist militant and founder of the MLF in 1970. 8


In 1996 the international publisher SAGE, conducting a study on the most educated authors in gender studies in England, asked for a work on C. Delphy. Under the title ” Christine Delphy, ” University of York professor of sociology Stevi Jackon wrote this introduction to her ideas on patriarchal exploitation, class, gender and the institutionalization of feminism. 6


  1. Back to top↑ Mariana Smaldone (2013). “The Beauvoirian legacy in Christine Delphy’s materialistic feminism: women, domestic work and gender, class and ethnicity debate .” III CINIG Conference on Gender and Feminism Studies . Accessed March 15, 2016 .
  2. Back to top↑ «LA FABRIQUE EDITIONS – Classer, dominer» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  3. Back to top↑ Stevi Jackson. «Christine Delphy | SAGE Publications Ltd ‘ . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  4. ↑ Jump to:a b «Je ne suis pas féministe mais … – vidéo Dailymotion» . Dailymotion . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  5. ↑ Jump to:a b «Editions Antipodes – NQF» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  6. ↑ Jump to:a b Stevi Jackson, Christine Delphy , Sage Publications Ltd , 1996, p. 190 ISBN 0803988699
  7. Back to top↑ Abigail Gregory, Ursula Tidd, Women in Contemporary France , Berg Publishers , 2000, p. 178 [1]
  8. ↑ Jump to:a b «Je ne suis pas féministe mais …» . (in fr-FR) . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  9. Back to top↑ Lluís Amiguet (February 3, 2009). “Christine Delphy: A lot of ministers, but poverty still has skirts .” . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  10. Back to top↑ «Editions Syllepse – L’Ennemi main, take 1» . September 17, 2012 . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  11. Back to top↑ «Editions Syllepse – L’Ennemi main, take 2» . September 12, 2011 . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  12. Back to top↑ Amorós, Celia (January 1, 1985). Women: science and political practice . Debate. ISBN  9788474442724 . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  13. Back to top↑ «Editions Syllepse – Cinquantenaire du Deuxième sexe» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  14. Back to top↑ «Biopolitics: Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist declaration» . Observatory of Bioethics, UCV (in Spanish of Spain) . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  15. Back to top↑ «Agression sans cause et crimes de guerre contre» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  16. ↑ Jump to:a b «Une guerre pour les femmes afghanes? – Les mots sont importants ( ‘ . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  17. Back to top↑ Afghana.Org. «Les dangereuses thèses de Christine Delphy by Françoise Causse – AFGHANA.Org Infos, l’indépendante sur l’Afghanistan» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  18. Back to top↑ «Les comparaisons réductrices de Christine Delphy» . Le Devoir . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  19. Back to top↑ «Christine Delphy« Prohibiting the veil at school is a blow to the anti-Muslim “lobby” | Contact Us | Society – » . ABC . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  20. Back to top↑ «Intervention contre une loi d’exclusion – Les mots sont importants (» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  21. Back to top↑ «Race, caste et genre en France – Les mots sont importants (» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  22. Back to top↑ «Racisme antiblanc»: le texte du Mrap «préoccupant» » . Rue89 . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  23. Back to top↑ «Interview Christine Delphy: Le féminisme doit être mondial» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  24. Back to top↑ “Les Indigènes de la République inquiètent la police” . Le Figaro . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  25. Back to top↑ «Pour la défense de la liberté d’expression, contre le soutien à Charlie Hebdo! – Les mots sont importants ( ‘ . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  26. Back to top↑ «L’appel des 58:« Nous manifesterons pendant l’état d’urgence »| Le Club de Mediapart » . Mediapart Club (en fr-FR) . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  27. Back to top↑ «The current challenges of feminism | The Dipl . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  28. Back to top↑ «Parité, discrimination positive et universalisme à la française – Les mots sont importants (» . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .
  29. Back to top↑ «Antisexisme or antiracisme? A faux dilemme – Les mots sont importants ( » . . Consulted the 16 of March of 2016 .