Sexism is still at “alarming” levels in all areas of France, as per a report that found the matter was getting worse, especially for young women.
The report said that women were being harassed in new ways such as online violence, verbal abuse on social media and pornography having “barbaric” content.
The survey also showed a male “backlash” in the French society to the #MeToo movement, with “macho raids” on social media intending “to reduce women to silence or discredit them”. It stated that matters of “discrimination, violence and harassment” were at “alarming proportions”.
The High Authority on Equality (HCE), a consultative body, in a study of 2,500 people revealed sexist behaviour was rising in “all spheres”, and several men considered violent and discriminatory behavior acceptable. Older men often believed in conservative attitudes towards male and female roles in society, while younger men exhibited aggressive macho attitudes, it detected.
Among the women between the ages of 18 to 24 questioned, 22% said they had “psychological control or excessive jealousy” by a partner and 15% were beaten by their partner or ex-partner. This increased to 20% of women aged 50-64.
Over one-third French women, who were polled, stated they were subjected to non-consensual sex. When the figures were studied, HCE detected 33% of women said they had sex unwillingly but their partner wanted, and 12% had unprotected sex as their partner insisted, and in the age group of 25-34 it is 18%.
About 22% of women in the age group of 18 to 24 said they had suffered a sexual assault or rape.
The HCE found that even though people were aware of the violence and discrimination since the #MeToo movement “bias and gender stereotypes, sexist cliches and everyday sexism were 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 observes.
It also read, “From everyday, so-called ‘ordinary’ sexism to its most violent manifestations, there is a continuum of violence, one forming the bedrock of the others”.
Those questioned spoke of a lack of confidence to deal with 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,” the HCE report added.
Another poll indicated that 93% asserted that men and women, in at least one aspect of their life, are treated differently such as in work, public space, school and family. About 80% of women said they were less well-treated or felt that they were there because of their sex, while 37% of men stated the same.
The situation was “depressing but not surprising”, stated Fabienne El Khoury, a spokesperson for the feminist group Osez Le Feminisme.
El Khoury said, “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.”
He continued, “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.”
HCE president Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette said that it was the first time a survey as such was done in France.
Pierre-Brossolette told The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, “We wanted to do for sexism what has been done for racism. 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.”
The authorities were required to target male attitudes “from a very young age”, she said and come up with more rigid measures to tackle online sexism, violence and harassment.
She added, “Everyday sexism leads to violent sexism.”