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"You’ll see a Frenchwoman in a short skirt and fishnets [working at a space telescope]; that’s normal for them. The men in those countries seem able to keep someone’s sexual identity separate from her scientific identity. American men can’t seem to appreciate a woman as a woman and as a scientist; it’s one or the other," Meg Urry, professor of physics and astronomy at Yale, commented to the New York Times. 
You'll see in America a common perception that a girl or woman can't be smart and hot/feminine/etc. In France the inherent belief is just that she can. Independent, witty women are ingrained in France's culture, and je ne sais quoi as an ideal of character celebrates that. 
Je ne sais quoi is technically defined as "I don't know what," or some kind of difficult-to-pinpoint quality that makes someone attractive, but my friend called it free, careless confidence, a definition which I guess stuck because of its implications for what feminism has to do with je ne sais quoi
I spent Thursday's 45-minute sweat/cry session at SoulCycle considering this. I eventually concluded that, according to this new definition, French women are so famous for their Je ne sais quoi precisely because they all live in an indirectly feminist society. The woman who works and the woman with a brain are respected and celebrated; it's accepted by all that women can be whomever they want. This feminism French women all experience allows them to be confident. 
 Maybe French society's subtly feminist outlook has to do with politics, government and history. For instance, French law makes it easy for mothers to send even toddler-age children to well-regulated and well-funded daycare programs. In this way, French mothers are given the freedom to choose to return to work and provide for themselves if they so wish. Very few other countries offer this kind of independence to women. Additionally, the more women work, the more men are accustomed to the idea of women working, so the more accepting they will become of it. It's a cycle that other countries must adopt. 
Since I live in la fantastique America, I'll talk about America; many American girls I've met consider the concept of being a girl and having a voice as being mutually exclusive. They don't consider being a girl a great way to have a voice. But, even girls who want to live in a feminist society that allows them to be confident about their voice need to take the first step in propagating one. When Republicans sign a law preventing your free access to reproductive rights? You should care whether your Republican or Democrat or stand in staunch solidarity with the Tea Party, because you shouldn't want men to have a say over you and your decisions. Whether you stand for choice or for life, you should still expect that men do not make laws in your stead. So protest! Rebel! 






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