‘French language is sexist’ feminists say

French feminists demonstrated in Paris calling on authorities to change French grammar. They say grammar rules convey sexist ideologies and should be reformed.

Feminist activists wore pink gloves and pretended to sweep the floor as they demonstrated on Tuesday evening in front the French Academy in Paris, French daily Le Parisien reports. Activists say they want the academy, the official authority on French language, to change grammar rules and sweep stereotypes away.

French grammar says that when the subjects of a sentence are feminin and masculin, the verbs and the adjectives of the sentence agree with the masculin not with the feminin. The French say “les hommes et les femmes sont beaux” and not “les hommes et les femmes sont belles”, which translates as “men and women are beautiful”.

Several feminist organisations say this rule was introduced in the 17th century when grammarians decided the masculin was “nobler” than the feminin. Feminists want to scap this rule.

“When we teach children that ‘the masculin prevails over the feminin’, we teach them that men are superior to women. We teach our children, whether we want to or not, that one sex is superior to the other,” the feminist organisations wrote in a press release.

French feminist organisations have led a similar campaign to see the title “Miss” removed from official paperwork.


Strike calls in France on International Women’s Day

Men and women are being called on to finish work at 3.40pm on Monday to highlight the gender pay gap, one of many actions and demonstrations taking place around France to mark International Women's Day.

Strike calls in France on International Women's Day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Several organisations and unions are calling for a strike to denounce pay inequality.

“On March the 8th, we will be on strike along with women all over the world to refuse to pay the price of the crisis with our jobs, our salaries, our bodies,” several unions including the CGT, FSU and Solidaires said in a press conference.

The objective is to denounce the gender pay gap that continues to impair women’s rights, but also to denounce the unfair burden that the past year’s health crisis has put on women.

“The lockdowns have been very heavy burdens on women for the past year, whether it’s in the health, work or home environments, increase in domestic violence. Not to mention the large amount of predominantly female jobs that have continued to maintained a level of normality during the lockdown,” the co-secretary general of FSU, Murielle Guilbert, told Les Echos.

The below map shows the actions planned around the country on Monday.

In Paris, a demonstration will start in Port-Royal at 1pm and move towards the Place de la RĂ©publique.

Organisations including Osez le féminisme, Les Effrontées and Unef have called women as well as men to go on strike on Monday from 3:40pm, in order to denounce the gender pay gap.

For a full list of actions around the country, click here.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by a junior minister for having only one woman among his closest advisers.

“I told him ‘Mr President, you are not giving a good example,” Elisabeth Moreno, a junior minister in charge of gender equality, told French media on Sunday.

She declined to say how the 43-year-old reacted, but she praised him for making gender equality a public priority and for ensuring balanced governments throughout his time in office.

Every cabinet since Macron came to power in 2017 has featured equal numbers of men and women, although both prime ministers have been male and the majority of the top cabinet jobs are currently held by men.

Macron has also been criticised for appointing GĂ©rald Darmanin as his interior minister – the man nominally in charge of the country’s police force – while he is under investigation for rape.