The leader of France's main employers' organisation, Laurence Parisot, has launched an attack on the enduring sexism in French society in the wake of the scandal involving IMF head Dominique Strauss Kahn.

"/> The leader of France's main employers' organisation, Laurence Parisot, has launched an attack on the enduring sexism in French society in the wake of the scandal involving IMF head Dominique Strauss Kahn.

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SEXISM

‘Bosses’ boss’ likens sexism to racism

The leader of France's main employers' organisation, Laurence Parisot, has launched an attack on the enduring sexism in French society in the wake of the scandal involving IMF head Dominique Strauss Kahn.

'Bosses' boss' likens sexism to racism
MEDEF/Wikimedia (File)

In an outspoken interview with Le Parisien, Parisot has revealed her own personal struggles with sexism as well as spelling out how she thinks France should deal with the issue. 

The bosses’ boss, as she is known in France, believes that the affair involving the former IMF boss and a hotel maid is a critical turning point for France. She hopes the issue “will help free speech. The French may be clear on human rights, but they have neglected the issue of equality between the sexes.”

In the interview, in which she denounces the behaviour of male politicians, businessmen and even sexist advertising campaigns, she claims “it’s vital that we denounce sexism. It’s a kind of racism, just like there is against blacks, jews and muslims.”

51-year old Parisot has been head of the main employers’ organisation in France since 2005. She recently won a second term after being uncontested in the election and winning 94 percent of the vote.

She told the newspaper that “after the Dominique Strauss Kahn affair, the small group of women who work at Medef got together and talked about our own experiences, both personal and professional. We’d never spoken about these issues before.” 

She even recounted how her very first job interview turned out to be a dinner invitation and that the dinner was “difficult to deal with but I managed to put up a good defence”.

Parisot rejects the claims of some in France that Americans are too puritanical. “Relations between the sexes are clear in the US, but still very blurred here”. 

She said she hopes the subject will become a key issue in next year’s presidential election. While she doesn’t think it should be the only criteria, she thinks a female President would be a good thing. 

Her proposals to fight sexism include a powerful ministry of women and longer paternity leave.

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SEXISM

More than one million French women targeted by sexist comments

More than one million French women, or one woman in 20, are targets of sexist comments in public, according to a new report on sexism. *French language learner article.*

More than one million French women targeted by sexist comments
Photo: jovannig/Depositphotos
*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.
 
The report highlights the kind of discrimination women go through on a daily basis, revealing that 1.2 million women experiencing sexist insults in 2017. 
 
The first investigation into sexism in France was carried out by the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE) and the results were made public on Thursday.
 
The report focuses on sexists comments made in public, something which is now punishable with a €750 fine since France's new law on sexual violence was introduced in August 2018, but according to the council “currently enjoys a high social tolerance”. 
 
In fact during 2017, there were just four convictions for sexist insults, something which has been put down to the fact that victims do not believe it is worth reporting to the police, with only 3 percent pursuing an official complaint.
 
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Women in Paris tell their stories of being groped, pestered and sexually harassedPhoto: Jean Francois Gornet/Flickr

It won't come as a surprise to many women living in a major French city that one of the main places the insults occur is on public transport, particularly the Paris Metro.

“It's often in the Metro,” Chloe, a 19-year-old student in Paris told Le Parisien. “The last time was three weeks ago: I got a comment that my trousers molded my buttocks. I did not answer so he called me a little slut.”
 
In 2016 a report revealed that half of women in France choose to wear trousers not skirts when they take public transport to avoid being the victims of sexual harassment.
 
And while official complaints to the police are rare, French women do discuss the kind of insults they frequently hear in public spaces on social media.
 
According to the report, the most frequently reported insults were 'slut' (27 percent), 'whore' (21 percent) and 'bitch' (16 percent), with the first two most commonly directed at women under 30.
 
While it isn't only women who are subjected to abuse in public, they represent 92 percent of the victims of gender-specific insults and 86 percent of these comments are made by men, the report claims.
 
“Women are insulted because they are women,” said the HCE. “Their sex is the marker of their difference and justifies the insult. On the other hand, insults against men are not based on the idea that being a man is intrinsically negative.”
 
The body pointed out that insults heard by men often reflect the opposite.
 
“A man will never be too manly and the insults that are addressed to him focus on the fact that he is not manly enough.”
 
French vocab to learn
 
Discrimination — une discrimination
Insult — une insulte
Sexism — le sexisme
Fine — une amende
Conviction — une conviction
Complaint — une plainte
Public Spaces —  un espace public
Social media — les réseaux sociaux
 
 
 
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