• France's news in English

'France has fewer rapes because less repressed'

The Local · 2 Nov 2015, 11:30

Published: 02 Nov 2015 11:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
"There are probably fewer rapes in France because people are less repressed," says Francoise Gilot, the 93-year-old former muse of Pablo Picasso. 
Gilot was together with Picasso after meeting him at the age of 22 back in 1943. Despite being 40 years his junior, the pair stayed together for ten years and had two children.
And now, the French painter and author has turned heads with her comments about the how people are handling the "eroticism" in the streets all wrong. 
In her new book, "About Women: Conversations Between a Writer and a Painter", she writes that women should be smiling at the men who whistle at them.
Gilot, whose views differ from her American co-author Lisa Alther, writes says that people could enable social cohesion if they only weren't so uptight. 
"If a man whistles at you and you smile, that oils the social wheels and eases the tension between the classes and sexes... It's a kind of give-and-take that acknowledges that the other person exists." 
She says taking offence all the time only makes relationships disagreeable.
(Françoise Gilot. Photo: AFP)
"There's always a subtle ambience of eroticism in the streets, in the air, of Paris. For instance, when you go to the market to select peaches, if you ask the vendor 'Are your peaches ripe?', he'll often say yes with a wink because the peach is considered a fruit similar to the female sex. Sometimes having intercourse is referred to as 'eating a peach'."
The co-author Alther is among those who disagree with the statements, writing that women "resent being turned into objects" by men whose comments are often "demeaning".
Gilot argues that it's nothing more than the "eroticism of life".
"Each time a man says something to me, if I take it as an insult, then I'll be insulted several times a day by strangers I'll never see again... Whereas if I smile vaguely and go my way, it doesn't cost me very much."
The statistics, gathered by the ONDRP observatory and published in August by Le Figaro newspaper, show that there were 12,700 sexual assaults reported in France in 2014 - a leap of 18 percent since a similar survey in 2010.
Story continues below…
In Paris alone, there were a total of 600 reported sexual assaults and rapes last year.
Clair Serrecombe, spokeswoman for women's rights group Osez le Feminisme, told The Local at the time that other surveys suggest there are as many as 75,000 rapes and sexual assaults each year.
That would equate to just over 200 each day.
"The only positive thing that these stats show is that more women than before are coming forward to police to report sexual assault," Serrecombe said.
"But given the extent of the problem there is a real lack of willingness on the part of public powers to lead a real campaign to tackle rape," she said.
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available