Marianne Caster, leader of the campaign which has unified several feminist groups under one umbrella, told The Local on Monday that bringing the tower down to earth would set French women free.
“For too long we have lived under the shadow of this patriarchal monstrosity," she said. "Every day, women in this city are forced to glare up at the giant metal penis in the sky. It may be good for tourism but as long as it stands there, France will never have 'egalité'."
“Since 1889, women have been forced to gaze up at this example of French industrial machismo and colonial arrogance,” said Caster.
The movement led by Caster has been dubbed 'Occoupez Le Tour', a French play on words meaning both ‘Occupy’ and ‘Cut off’ the Tower.
The 320 metre high iron tower is the world’s most visited structure, attracting roughly 7 million tourists each year.
A study last year estimated that the iconic structure is worth €434 billion to the French economy, the equivalent of 25 percent of the country’s GDP.
At a time when France's economy is spluttering to a halt, city authorities in Paris would no doubt be loathe to see it pulled down, but Occoupez Le Tour believe there is more at stake than just revenue for France.
“Climbed by millions of oblivious tourists every year, this phallic symbol has enchanted the world with its false romance,” the Occoupez le Tour movement said in an open letter addressed to Paris mayor Bertrand Delanöe and French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti.
“It is a delusional vision of Paris as the city of love, one which is directly responsible for the behaviour of men like Dominique Strauss Kahn”, added the statement.
The group have demanded a meeting with President François Hollande on the top level of the famous tower to explain their demands.
Although feminist groups all agree that the tower is an outdated symbol of male dominance, not all are calling for it to be torn down. A rival movement under the banner "Tour pour Tous" (Tower for all) are calling for major renovations to change the design of the tower to make it more female friendly.
'Tour pour Tous' have already drafted in architects to design a new tower which would see the base altered to become rounder and a cross bar built between level and and level three of the tower. (See photo below)
The new look tower wold be given the more female-friendly name 'Le Tour Eiffelle'.
Reaction to the campaign has been swift. Speaking on RTL radio, National Front deputy Alain Bourge said “It’s an outrage. The Eiffel Tower is among the proudest achievements of the French race, and one of the greatest testaments to man’s ingenuity.”
The movement has also been greeted with ridicule in some quarters, and Socialist party deputy Franck Lomme assured his Twitter followers on Monday that the destruction of the tower was a non-starter.
“Absolutely impossible! Have they nothing better to do than think of ways to ruin my city," he tweeted.
Thierry Barmay from 'father's rights' advocacy group SOS Papa attacked the Occoupez movement on Sunday night. He told The Local "This is nonsense. If anything, 'The Iron Lady' [as the tower is known] should be renamed The Iron Man. What more can these feminists take from us?"
Speaking to TF1 television on Sunday night, ‘Occoupez le Tour’ spokeswoman Caster was not drawn on the practicalities of dismantling and removing the estimated 10,000 tonnes of wrought iron.
“The important thing is that this statue to oppression be severed from the body of France. We’ll probably leave the logistics and the engineering to the local authorities. It’s not really our forte,” added Caster.
Preliminary sketch of redesigned 'Tour Eiffelle'
Image courtesy of 'Tour Pour Tous'
April Fools’ update
It’s lunchtime in France, so it’s only fair we own up by now.
As you may or may not have guessed, the above article contains little or no factual content.
The mayor of Paris is named Bertrand Delanöe, just as France’s culture minister is name Aurélie Filippetti, but all other names have been invented.
France is home to a fathers’ rights group called SOS Papa, as well as strong, vibrant feminist traditions.
The Eiffel Tower is safe and sound.
Happy April Fools’ Day!