French expression of the day: On se barre

French expression of the day: On se barre
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
It's both a quick exit and the slogan of this year's most iconic feminist act in France.

Why do I need to know on se barre?

Not only is it a way of making a quick exit, it’s also the catch-phrase of this year’s perhaps most iconic feminist act in France.

What does it mean?

On se barre comes from the verb se barrer, which you use to say that you want to ‘leave’.

On se barre? – Shall we leave?

Je me barre – I’m getting out of here

Tu t’es barré avant que j’ai pu te dire au revoir – You left before I could say goodbye

Se barrer is more colloquial than partir, but slightly less so than se casser.

Use it as an interjection:

Barre-toi ! – Get out of here!

Or as a feminist catch-phrase

On se barre recently was turned into a popular feminist slogan in France, after actress Adèle Haenel walked out of this year’s César film ceremony in protest at convicted child rapist Roman Polanski being awarded the title of best director.

Her protest led to author Virginie Despentes writing a poignant and widely shared article dedicated to Haenel titled: Désormais, on se lève et on se barre – ‘From here on, we get up and leave’.

Haenel became an icon, and on se barre became a symbol of one of the must difficult acts: getting up and walking out when you don’t agree.

Lots of French women carried posters titled on se barre on the International Women’s Day protest this weekend.

So now you may use on se barre both to fight patriarchy and whenever you just want to get out of somewhere. Or both at once.

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