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Surprised - no comment on the Le Monde letter?

(41 Posts)
Mominatrix Wed 10-Jan-18 19:48:30

I read about this and came here to see what reaction on this forum has been to the letter published in Le Monde written by Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Millet has been, and surprised that there is not one thread. Here is the Atlantic magazine's article on it which is bordering on ambivalent. I myself am dismayed by the French attitude of acceptance of background harassment as it is part of the game of seduction. Is this the attitude of the country of Simone de Beauvoir? Really?

PricklyBall Wed 10-Jan-18 19:54:20

Van Badham has a good article in the Guardian (now there's a rarity these days) explaining exactly why Deneuve et al are wrong.

Hygge Wed 10-Jan-18 22:10:03

I heard about this on the radio and was looking for a comment on it.

When I was twelve I went to France as part of a school trip.

On the first day we were allowed to walk around a small area of the town in groups of four.

Some older men decided to follow us around shouting "Will you have sex with us" in both French and English, and also make comments about blow jobs, kissing, and god knows what else. Surprisingly our French lessons in school hadn't included translating sexual harassment. The men would have been about 20 or so, they thought it was funny.

Two days later, we were taken to a French market and again allowed to walk around unsupervised in groups of four. A man who was in his forties groped my friend's bum, followed us a short way, and slapped her bum.

At this point her twin sister realised and kicked him.

He shouted in French and walked away.

I've looked back at our photo's recently. We look dreadful. Pale, spotty twelve-year old girls with bad hair, two of us with awful giant glasses, all of us in 1980's fashions (oversize Sweater Shop jumpers and Bros jeans and shoes). We look like little girls.

This was not the first time I was sexually harassed. I was seven. It wasn't the last time either.

They need to trust women to know the difference between "awkward seduction" and sexual harassment.

'Touching knees, stealing kisses, talking about intimate things in professional settings, and sending sexual messages' to women who don't want and haven't asked for them might not be rape but there's no place for it all the same and the men who think these things are okay deserve what they get.

Why these women think these things are okay is beyond me.

AngryAttackKittens Wed 10-Jan-18 22:18:16

Already been talking about it with friends. If for whatever reason these particular women find extremely aggressive male sexual behavior sexy and exciting then that's their business, but if they could stop projecting that preference onto women as a whole that would be great.

Attempting to "steal kisses" in a professional setting is not in any way professional. Go do your "woman swooning as she's seduced by a passionate man" roleplaying in private and leave the rest of us alone.

SexNamesRFab Wed 10-Jan-18 22:31:30

I saw this and my heart sank too. I too have found generally that Western Europe is much more misogynistic than the UK (sexual harassment seen as the norm etc). I can only think that these women have been as conditioned to think that being valued sexually attractive is somehow the pinnacle of a woman's achievement and therefore see such behaviour as necessary proof of there own worth. So utterly depressing.

AssassinatedBeauty Wed 10-Jan-18 22:35:11

I genuinely find it hard to bring myself to say anything about it, it's so crushingly depressing.

Laquila Wed 10-Jan-18 22:37:59

Just read that article, PricklyBall - she’s spot on, really, isn’t she?

AngryAttackKittens Wed 10-Jan-18 22:44:14

"We’re aware enough today to admit that the sex drive is by nature offensive and savage"

Mine isn't, and I'd rather not have sex with anyone matching this description.

"largely in the United States and Britain, since no heads have rolled in France"

So how is it any of their business, then? I find it extremely difficult to believe that there are no French women who'd prefer their sexual interactions with men not to be "offensive and savage", but in the unlikely event that that was the case it would still be stupid to try to extrapolate from that to countries where the massive response to MeToo makes it clear that most women would in fact prefer that their male coworkers not treat the workplace as an ideal setting for a spot of knee touching and kiss stealing.

IrkThePurist Wed 10-Jan-18 22:49:51

A Canadian woman was gang raped in a police station in Paris. The police officers are to stand trial.
This article contradicts most of what was written by Catherine Deneuve.

HelenaDove Wed 10-Jan-18 23:11:32

Mature woman scared of losing her validation.

Backingvocals Wed 10-Jan-18 23:13:04

I’ve never been as subject to sexual abuse ever as the year I lived in Paris. It was a daily occurrence.

Tbh I didn’t comment on The letter because I’m afraid I just dismissed it as very French. A certain sort of French woman needs to believe in this shit. Depressing crap but ultimately they are not very smart these celebs.

HelenaDove Wed 10-Jan-18 23:15:24

I wonder if Samantha Brick has signed it,

Backingvocals Wed 10-Jan-18 23:23:12

And Paris Lees. “She” is French after all.

Terrylene Wed 10-Jan-18 23:24:28

I heard her on the radio (although I didn't know who she was) and I got the impression that she was saying that if someone tries to grope or whatever on the metro then you give them a loud sharp put down and the other strong women support you. Maybe this works for her for some reason? hmm Like she is a high profile strong woman? But what about the everyday women that have to travel to dull work for dull money and maybe look a bit quiet - does it work for them?

HelenaDove Wed 10-Jan-18 23:38:21

Yep that will really work for the woman working for the "fuck me or face Universal Credit" boss.

At least the actresses and campaigners attending the Golden Globes have acknowledged that its not as easy for women in low paid professions and have set a fund up to address this.

EamonnWright Thu 11-Jan-18 01:14:56

The actresses and campaigners attending the Golden Globes? Like Meryl Streep?


Bloomed Thu 11-Jan-18 01:31:19

Agree helena. I was once on a trip to Paris with a female friend who seemed weirdly flattered by the harassment we got. She felt more visible.

FlyTipper Thu 11-Jan-18 08:47:15

I don't think France is more misogynistic than the UK. In France, women rarely go around looking like Barbie. Sorry, but true. French are more traditional probably (gender roles) and many work places are probably still very patriarchal. Feminism tends to follow female emancipation lines: e.g. breast feed so you are at liberty to work. I was disappointed to see Deneuve's comments but not really surprised. She represents a certain notion of sexual liberation (very '68) in France that never really caught on in the UK. It's an erroneous notion that says it recognises female sexuality. But too often this ends up reflecting male pleasure, so how is that true female liberation? I think Deneuve has a point in the sense that we should remain level headed in the sphere on sexual misconduct and harassment. Confounding different categories of unwanted pestering (from blundering chat-up lines to persistent, unwanted harassment) risks downplaying the seriousness of sexual assault, which is and should remain a crime.

That said, I think the big issue so often overlooked in the current narrative is the power imbalance. All of this unwanted sexual pestering/harassment that goes on every day happens when a man in a position of power imposes himself on a women in a more precarious job. Once the story is framed this way, it becomes immediately clear why women don't report incidents rapidly, or at all, why women don't call out the abusers to their faces, why women may confess online or to a newspaper or anonymously rather than use the hierarchy at work. It bothers me greatly each time I hear "but why didn't she report it sooner. Why now?" with the implication she is an attention whore or gold-digger.

HelenaDove Thu 11-Jan-18 17:18:59

Eamon.............fair point. But do you think then that if a woman is offered any monies from that fund so she can bring a case for harrassment that she should turn it down out of principle?

EamonnWright Thu 11-Jan-18 17:40:32

Eamon.............fair point. But do you think then that if a woman is offered any monies from that fund so she can bring a case for harrassment that she should turn it down out of principle

Tbh I find anything Streep is involved in off putting and I'm sure I'm not the only one. She's a cheer leader for a child rapist and she's front and centre of a campaign against sexual abuse and harassment.

UpABitLate Thu 11-Jan-18 18:09:34


It's not just meryl streep it's loads of women. Do you have something against all of them?

Setting up a fund and paying into it is at least doing something. I'd rather see this than not.

Do you want the whole thing cancelled because of Meryl Streep?

UpABitLate Thu 11-Jan-18 18:11:21

Whenever any woman or group of women tries to do anything they are picked apart by men, by women, by feminists.

We're never going to get anywhere if we say in response to a multi million pound fund to help low paid women in the USA who are harrassed, no thanks, stick it where the sun don't shine, we (on behalf of low paid women in the US) want you to take it all back.

Mominatrix Fri 12-Jan-18 15:16:37

In the New York Times Opinion pages today, a French woman had her say on the matter. Apparently, French feminism (true French feminism, not the recent American imported feminism) loves and accepts the grey areas of sensuality between a man and woman and that this modern feminism hates men and sensuality.

TBH, their critique of the MeToo movement is the same as the general critique of modern feminism in general.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Fri 12-Jan-18 16:51:40

I've also lived in France and to me this letter reflects the French attitude towards sexual harassment to a tee. I was told that wearing anything other than jeans in the hot French summer was attention seeking and that if I wore a sundress I shouldn't complain if guys tried to put their hands up my skirt on the bus.

Maybe I'm missing something - the French women saw it as empowering but to me it was a load of crap and very intimidating.

PricklyBall Fri 12-Jan-18 16:57:19

There was a piece in the Torygraph by one of the signatories of the original letter to Le Monde. Apparently, properly empowerfulised women should respond to men frotting against them on the bus by loudly making fun of them then laughing it off. Now, as it happens the one time similar happened to me (on the Athens underground) I did turn round and kick the bastard sharply in the shins.* However, that does not in any way alter the fact that the pervy little toss pot should not have done it in the first place, and that such minor acts of sexual assault bear precisely no relationship to being chatted up. I am forced to conclude that the signatories of the original letter were in fact idiots.

On a related note, a friend who did a post-doc in France said it was a hellish experience from a women's rights perspective. Hard, mathematical science type post doc - and it was still the done thing to go and socialise in the local lap-dancing club on a Friday night, and women in the lab were expected to go along and be "cool girls." She hated it.

*I was 15 at the time, and on a school trip.

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