Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

French feminist challenges greens

Elisabeth Badinter
Elisabeth Badinter has a reputation in France for radical thinking

A leading French feminist, Elisabeth Badinter, has accused green politicians of neglecting European women's needs in a new book.

Attacking the green movement's support for washable reusable nappies, she told French media the disposable nappy was an aspect of women's liberation.

Women, she argued, were also being pressured into breastfeeding when for some the practice was hateful.

"We are not baboons, all doing the same thing," she said.

Detecting a creeping return to conservative values, Mrs Badinter said a lot of European women were not prepared to accept this "regression".

The author of The Woman and Mother Conflict pointed out that in Germany more than a quarter of women stayed without children.

'Tied to the hearth'

If women in France did not agree to breastfeed, she told the Ouest-France newspaper, they were made to feel guilty by being told: "So you do not want the best for your child?"

"I am sorry but there are two categories of woman," said Mrs Badinter, who is a mother of three.

"Those who like to return to the state of breastfeeding and those who hate it."

She argued against politicians like French Green Party leader Cecile Duflot who advocate the use of washable nappies because of the plastic and chemical waste created by the disposable variety.

The feminist solution, said Mrs Badinter, was to manufacture biodegradable disposable nappies.

In September 2008, France's conservative government mooted a new "picnic tax" on throwaway items such as plastic cutlery but also disposable nappies.

"I am not waging war on motherhood," said Mrs Badinter.

"I am warning young women about the return of a back-to-nature ideology, of the danger of choosing to become wives tied to the hearth.

"Let them not forget that every second or third couple breaks up and that there is nothing worse than finding yourself jobless and alone with a child."

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