Sexism against women increasing in France
Even with the global spread of the #MeToo movement and violence against women becoming more commonly discussed, sexual violence and harassment continue to increase.
Women in France are increasingly becoming victims to new forms of harassment in the online realm such as verbal abuse and pornography with “barbaric” content.
A study of 2,500 people by the High Authority on Equality (HCE) revealed sexist behavior amping up in “all spheres”, amid many men's increasing acceptability of violent behavior against women in France. It further discovered that older men maintained the mentality of gender roles in society and younger men harbored aggressive macho behavior towards treating women.
In the study, women aged 18-24 were questioned, and 22% of them said they experienced “psychological control or excessive jealousy” by a partner, while 15% confessed to having been physically abused and beaten by their partner; the number was recorded at 20% among women aged 50-64.
The poll demonstrated that in the category pertaining to 18- to 24-year-olds, 22% said they were victims of sexual assault or rape.
Despite the #MeToo movement, violent behavior speeds up
Even with the global spread of the #MeToo movement and violence against women becoming more commonly discussed, the study found that “bias and gender stereotypes, sexist cliches and everyday sexism are still commonplace,"
"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," the report said.
Women who were part of the polls displayed skepticism about the effectiveness of measures and policies that are intended to combat sexism. In a separate part of the poll regarding treatment in the workplace, school and in public, 80% of women said they were ill-treated on account of their sex, and 37% of men reported the same.
Femicide rates just the tip of the iceberg
A spokesperson for the feminist group Osez Le Féminisme, Fabienne El Khoury, called the situation “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,” she expressed.
HCE president, Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, announced that this survey is a first of its kind 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," Pierre-Brossolette said, adding that officials need to focus on male attitudes “from a very young age” to enforce more strict measures in fighting online violence towards women.
“Everyday sexism leads to violent sexism,” she relayed.
Sexism has been quite common in the UK and France and has been surfacing more recently. In 2017, Eric Zemmour compared women who participated in the #MeToo movement to those who assisted Nazis in tracking down Jews in France during the German occupation.
Back in May, French President Emmanuel Macron was accused by equality campaigners of not keeping his promise to stop violence against women and girls after the government kept a new minister accused of rape by two women.