Gender equality, the fight of a lifetime for Janette Bertrand

Janette Bertrand, 95, is not giving up on the fight for gender equality. A few days before the release ofOrdinary rape, the one who animated in the spring Write his life!, a writing workshop for the elderly, is already working on the continuation of his novel.

“I hurry, I’m going to be 96 in March,” she exclaims, laughing on the phone. The next book is going to be hard to write because I’m going into something that I’m not familiar with, men’s support groups, but I have some good sources. At least the men can’t tell me they don’t know where to go for help. The next novel will talk about Laurent’s evolution and show that it’s hard to change. “

But who is this Laurent? Central character ofOrdinary rape, a novel written largely by letter, Laurent raped his partner Léa one evening when he preferred to deny the notion of consent in order to realize a sexual fantasy. Broken, Lea still found the strength to sue the man she loves. Laurent’s condemnable gesture, who, encouraged by his macho friends, believes himself to be innocent, will make two other victims: his own parents, Paul and Julie, whose discussions on sex education, feminism, patriarchy, pornography, etc. ., will shake their couple.

We women have changed very quickly, but men have not. And that’s what scares me.

“It was that damn #MeToo that got guys like me involved, real guys. Before, everything was clear, simple: the guys are going to conquer a girl, the girl makes her hang around, she is begged for, she wants, she doesn’t want. Eventually the guy gets stuck with his hormones, he ends up doing what he has to do, and then she’s really happy. All action movies are based on this, ”Paul wrote to Julie.

Of Paul and Julie, it is obviously the mother who will feel the most guilty about her son’s attitude towards women. “When you spend your time telling your child that he is beautiful, perfect, strong, not to cry, to go to fight, that you raise him as a male, for sure this guy, once he has slept with a girl, he will do as with his mother who always says no, but who always ends up saying yes. Like it or not, the flaws that we don’t want to show them, children discover them and inherit them, and then they do what they want with them. What girl has never thought to herself that she would not be like her mother and finds herself saying the exact same thing as her? “

Dear Madame Bertrand, how are our men to whom you dedicate your novel? “Our men need to get plugged in! The novel, and the second, is my last effort to make men question themselves. We women have changed very quickly, but men have not. And that’s what scares me. Divorces are always like that, one of the two has changed, for better or for worse, so they don’t meet again. After the first wave of #MeToo, I heard some men say they wondered about their attitude towards women, which is very healthy. Me, I love men and I hope that will change, because I have seen fathers around me change – I have amazing grandsons! “

If Janette Bertrand admits without hesitation that “girls are fed up” with the attitude of men, their domination since the dawn of time and the influence of pornography, it is not however anger that gave her the want to write Ordinary rape.

“It’s a feeling of injustice, this ‘double standard’ that I suffered a lot because it was even worse when I was young. Men don’t want to share power. We don’t want their place, we don’t want power, we want to share it. We are not the same, but we want to be equal! I have six great-granddaughters, so I would like them to have a fair, just relationship. The word “just” is very important because the domination of men is injustice done to women, “explains the woman who was declared woman of the century in 1990 by the Salon de la femme in Montreal.

And precisely, in order to do justice to reality, the author undertook six months of research during which she met Deborah Trent, executive director of the Center for victims of sexual assault in Montreal, about thirty workers. organizations specializing in rape and women victims of sexual assault. She also “barded” while reading a dozen books, including The factory of rape by Suzanne Zaccour (Leméac, 2019).

“The funny thing is that this Quebec feminist jurist’s book came out when I had my first version. It was in this book, where she talks about ordinary rapes, that I found the title of my novel. The rape that men like to imagine is the one in an alley where the girl is beaten. There would be so much to say about this problem… ”

Having contributed to the development of Quebec society, in particular with her letter from the heart which she held from 1953 to 1969, What a family ! and Janette wants to know in the 1970s, Love with a capital A and Talk to talk in the 1980s, Janette Bertrand remained very optimistic about the future. Even in the midst of a pandemic, as she misses her family’s hugs and finds that her six-month-old great-granddaughter has never seen her without a mask.

“But that’s okay, because we human beings have resilience. We are made to survive. Human nature has some bad little sides that correct themselves, but it is beautiful. Love is beautiful, and family is amazing. I don’t think I will change the world. Everything I’ve done has always been for my kids. I didn’t want my two daughters to be as silly as me! “Concludes the one nicknamed the” Head Whistleblower “

An ordinary rape / Writing your life!

Janette Bertrand, Libre Expression, Montreal, 2020, 184 pages. In bookstores October 21 / Tuesday October 19, at 6 p.m., on MaTV

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