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SEXISM

French female hacks slam lustful politicians

"Get your paws off me!" was the message from female French journalists to the country's lecherous male politicians on Tuesday when they published a petition denouncing sexism.

French female hacks slam lustful politicians
French journalist Tristane Banon who accused former French politician DSK of sexual assault. Photo: AFP

Fed up with bawdy remarks and wandering hands, dozens of female French journalists have signed a petition published Tuesday denouncing sexism from politicians.

“Get your paws off me!” read the front page of the Liberation newspaper, where 40 female political reporters detailed sexist and lewd behaviour suffered while working in the corridors of power.

One describes waiting in the heart of the National Assembly only to be greeted by a lawmaker saying: “Ah but you're on the game, hustling for a client.”

Another mentions a deputy running his hands through her hair, while a minister's advisor asked a journalist upon her return from holiday if she was “tanned all over”.

From a political spokesman taking photos of sleeping female journalists onboard a plane during the last presidential campaign, to a “friend of the president” declaring that journalists are “much more interesting when they have big breasts”, the female hacks have had enough.

In the petition, they condemn the fact that little has changed after the downfall of International Monetary Fund chief and presidential frontrunner Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose notorious sexual appetite landed him in court on several occasions.

“We thought that the DSK case had shifted the line and that chauvinist attitudes were on the verge of extinction. Alas!” read the article.

Strauss-Kahn's career imploded after his arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid.

French journalist Tristane Banon (photo) also accused DSK of sexually assaulting her in 2002 in which she said he was like a “chimpanzee in rut”. 

The charges in both the Sofitel case and the Banon affair were eventually dropped but the case revealed details of his often crude behaviour with women, highlighting sexist attitudes from French male politicians.

The journalists writing in Liberation also described insistent text messages or phone calls seeking late night meetings, suggestions to pop into a nearby hotel “for a bit of fun” and one official who had to be threatened with sexual harassment charges to get him to back off.

“There are also condescending sighs when we ask questions in press conferences: 'That is such a girl question'”, wrote the journalists.

However the petition highlights that there are also many politicians who do not act in this manner, especially the younger generation.

“The fact that these practices — which mirror those that happen every day in the street, factories and offices — involve elected officials charged with creating policy, leads us to denounce them.”

The petition was signed by 16 reporters from the main French media houses including Liberation itself, Le Monde and Le Parisien newspapers, Radio France International and Agence France Presse.

The rest of the journalists preferred to remain anonymous due to their “complicated professional situation.”

Women's Rights Minister Marisol Touraine said the petition was a good reminder that sexism permeates the whole of society.

“This must also be an opportunity to recall the sexism confronting millions of women in their daily life on public transport, in their place of work and on the street,” she said.

“Sexism is more insidious than before, but it is well and truly present.”    

Sexual harassment in France has come under the spotlight in recent weeks after the High Council for Equality between Women and Men urged government to crack down on the phenomenon, saying 100 percent of women using public
transport have been the victim at least once in their lives.

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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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