Home » EXCLUSIVE; Sexism Against Women in the Cradle of Women’s Rights

EXCLUSIVE; Sexism Against Women in the Cradle of Women’s Rights

Sexism remains at “alarming” levels in France in all areas

by Narges Mohammadi

Survey finds women targeted by online harassment, together with male ‘backlash’ towards #MeToo

FRANCE/ Sexism remains at “alarming” levels in France in all areas; according to an official report that found the situation is getting worse; particularly for younger women.

Women are being targeted by new forms of harassment including online violence; verbal abuse on social media; and pornography with “barbaric” content, it said.

The survey also detected a male “backlash” across French society to the #MeToo movement; with “macho raids” on social media seeking “to reduce women to silence or discredit them”. It stated that situations of “discrimination; violence; and harassment” have reached “alarming proportions”.

The study of 2,500 people by the High Authority on Equality (HCE) which was done a month ago; a consultative body, found sexist behavior increasing in “all spheres”; with many men believing violent and discriminatory behavior to be acceptable. Older men often remained stuck in conservative attitudes towards male and female roles in society; while younger men occasionally displayed aggressive macho tendencies, it found.

Among the women aged 18-24 questioned; 22% said they had suffered “psychological control or excessive jealousy” by a partner; and 15% had been beaten by their partner or ex-partner. This rose to 20% among women aged 50-64.

More than one-third – 37% – of French women polled said they had been subject to non-consensual sex. When the figures were broken down; the HCE found 33% of women asked had had sex when they did not want to but their partner insisted; and 12% had unprotected sex at the insistence of their partner – rising to 18% in the 25-34 age group.

Of the 18- to 24-year-olds polled, 22% said they had suffered a sexual assault or rape

Sexism Results

Despite people being aware of the violence and discrimination since the #MeToo movement “bias and gender stereotypes,; sexist clichés and everyday sexism are still commonplace”; the HCE found.

“People recognize and deplore the existence of sexism but fail to reject it in practice; a phenomenon particularly widespread among the men questioned. This gap between perception, statements, and practice has tangible consequences in terms of symbolic, physical, sexual, and economic violence.

“From every day; so-called ‘ordinary’ sexism to its most violent manifestations; there is a continuum of violence, one forming the bedrock of the others,” it read.

Those questioned also spoke of a lack of confidence in official measures to combat sexism; and respond “to a situation that is getting worse with a new phenomenon: online violence; increased virulence on social networks, barbarity in many pornographic industry productions, and affirmation of a masculinist and antifeminist pornographic industry.

“In addition; there are clear signs that women’s fundamental rights, especially sexual and reproductive rights, are being eroded in the world.”

Elsewhere in the poll; 93% affirmed that men and women are treated differently; in at least one of the aspects of their life: work, public space, school, or family; 80% of women asked said they had been less well-treated; or felt they had been because of their sex, while 37% of men said the same.

Women’s rights activists

Fabienne El Khoury, a women’s rights activist said the situation was “depressing but not surprising”.

“We see that sexism is a structural problem. It’s not just a question of discrimination in salaries; and pensions or an increasing number of femicides; which are the visible part of the iceberg; but a whole mentality that needs to change,” El Khoury said.

“The only way to do that is to introduce a feminist education from a young age to combat sexist stereotypes and to address pornography that is violent, misogynistic and degrading to women but that is attracting young boys at a lower and lower age.”

The HCE president, Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, said it was the first time such a survey had been done in France.

“We wanted to do for sexism what has been done for racism;” Pierre-Brossolette told the Guardian. “It’s not enough to protect women and punish men. If we don’t address the roots of everyday sexism and change the mentality we will never move forward. We cannot just deplore the situation we need to change it.”

She said the authorities needed to target male attitudes “from a very young age” and introduce more stringent measures to combat online sexism, violence, and harassment.

“Everyday sexism leads to violent sexism,” she added.

Source: Guardian

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