A few months ago, I wrote a piece on this blog entitled, The Day in the Life of Street Harassment in the South of France. This piece received many, many views, comments, likes, and reflections both on and off the blog. Curiously enough, the majority of the You’re-just-exaggerating-and-what-you’re-experiencing-isn’t-really-harassment-it’s-just-a-way-of-life-you-should-be-flattered-someone-thinks-you’re-so-sexy comments came from French men.
A few days ago, a French woman named Eleonore Pourriat produced a short, eleven minute film entitled Majorité Opprimée or Oppressed Majority which has quickly gone viral. (This film is in French with English subtitles, so all curious readers can watch.)
It came from my experience as a woman over the past 40 years. And from the incredulity of men when I told them about the comments and behavior of some men on the street, in high school, in public transportation, everywhere really.
Looks like I’m not alone.
In this alternative reality, the majority of women jog shirtless and are the “providers” for a “traditional” family. Men are expected to stay at home, take care of the kids, and are also subjected to sexual harassment. During the man’s errands, women whistle at him and call him “Cutie,” or “Honey,” and tell him to, “Keep Smiling.” In this film, the man is catcalled, assaulted in an alleyway, mistreated by the police to whom he is giving his report, and finally slut shamed by his wife. There is also an exchange in conversation between two men in regards to one man wearing a hijab, which is common amongst the Islamic population here in the south (yep, that is switched around too.) Some of us (myself included) felt this was one of the only “controversial” parts of the film, as women have the choice to wear a hijab if she chooses. The reason it was added, I believe, is that France outlaws the hijab in public schools, where as many women Islamic communities here in the south wear the hijab, so it’s a very stressful situation for many females here. The impression I get here in France is that all non-Muslims believe that they know about Islamic culture and what is best for Muslim women. However, I am not Muslim, so I do not want to assume or make any sort of comments towards a very sensitive subject about which I do not completely understand. The only other detail about this film that I didn’t really like were the fact that all of the assaultees were (perhaps stereotypically), women of color.
The film could be triggering, but it really does get the point across. Ironically, this video takes place in the South of France.
Again, this film is meant to make you think. One thing that irks me is when men who do not catcall women get all defensive saying that this video or others like this is sexist only towards one gender. Well unfortunately the VAST MAJORITY of victims are women being harassed by men, and since men have the privilege in society, we need them to step up to other men and change this attitude and mentality from “it’s just a part of life,” to “this is absolutely unacceptable.”
If you’re curious, my friend Quiche Lauren also did her own take on this video and topic, which you can view here.