France’s Women Wake Up

France’s women put sexism on trial

Two weeks since the head of the International Monetary Fund and great Socialist hope for president was arrested and charged with attempting to rape a New York hotel maid, a sexual revolution is underway.

Strauss-Kahn denies the charges against him, but whatever the outcome of his case, it has sparked an outpouring against French sexism and harassment disguised as “gallantry”, as well as a new openness about tackling rape.

It wasn’t the Strauss-Kahn charges themselves that caused the backlash. It was the perceived belittling of rape and sexism of leading French thinkers reacting to his case. Suddenly France, the land of feminist luminary Simone de Beauvoir, was being lampooned abroad as a macho backwater. Feminists held street protests and young male politicians rushed to sign a mayor’s anti-sexism petition distancing themselves from what the US media called the reign of the French “dirty old man”.

Despite outrage, the Socialist Jack Lang has stuck by his comments that Strauss-Kahn should have been released on bail earlier, considering that “no one had died”.

The journalist and philosopher Jean-Francois Kahn dismissed the case as a “troussage de domestique”, a phrase suggestive of French aristocrats having non-consensual sex with servants. He later apologised and quit journalism. Women politicians are speaking out. One female Socialist MP wearing trousers and a summer top to a recent commission hearing was reportedly told by a rightwing MP: “Dressed like that, you shouldn’t be surprised at being raped.”

The former environment minister Corinne Lepage told LibĂ©ration she had seen a female MP raise the issue of a rape in parliament and a male MP shout: “With a face like that it’s hardly going to happen to you.”

I really, truly hope that this changes things in France, that they are set on a path towards a place where women are much freer to stand up for themselves and take a hard line against their rape culture.

I truly hope that woman that was attacked not only gets her justice, but is able to heal from this nightmare.

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5 Responses to “France’s Women Wake Up”

  1. With the fastest-growing fundy-Muslim population in Europe, and as possibly the most traditionally xenophobic nation* in Europe, they have their work cut out.

    I’m with you though. Truly hope they get some results.

    *Meaning if this or any other cause can be made (read: spun by the opposition) to look like outside-influence, it doesn’t stand a hope in hell.

  2. Ooh, now see I didn’t know about either of those things. I guess I need to brush up more on European current events.

    Although, the French are pretty famous for being rude to Americans…

  3. Oh– here you are! What on earth happened with Blogger? Are you able to move posts from there to this blog? Now I’m nervous! What if Blogger does something weird to my blog! Ack!

  4. Blogger is tied to Google. My Google account was deleted or suspended for some reason. Blogger says “Deal with Google” Google is giving me the runaround.

    I was able to use the Google cache feature to dig up my most recent front page. I’m not sure what else I can get from it. I will have time to really dig next weekend. I have a massive Econ project due Tuesday, then an Exam on Thursday.

    No one else at Blogger seems to have had problems. I expect my Google account was broken into. And since I can’t stop writing about stuff for a few hours, I’m here for at least the interim. Maybe longer, I really like this setup, actually.

  5. I used to have the same troubles with Google Groups. As far as I can tell, Google don’t actually have anything like a Customer Service Dept. They just set up “users’ groups” where you can “share advice with other users”. So, if another user has met your particular problem, and if they managed to solve it, and if they’re altruistic enough to hang around the users’ board helping others, you might get advice on how to solve your problem.

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