Following the revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s case, more and more women have started to talk on social networks, and they took to the streets on October 29th to condemn sexual harassment. Media engagement on the topic is reinforced by the avalanche of well-known figures denounced for harassment or rape.
Police everywhere, justice nowhere
Macron promised a new law on sexual harassment for 2018. He used this to sneak in the long planned “daily safety police”. But who will believe there will be less harassment in the street simply with more cops in the subway? Even if it was possible to catch gender-based abuse in the act – not very likely – what will the police do? The police often refuse to file rape complaints. And cops are sometimes the rapists, as we saw in the case of the rapist cops at the Quai des Orfevres.
And guess what, Macron considers that most of the harassment happens in “the roughest neighbourhoods” … that’s wrong! It happens everywhere, and to our knowledge, Harvey Weinstein did not operate in Los Angeles ghettos! Recent news and all studies show that harassment and sexual abuse happens in all social circles. Macron insults women victims by using harassment for security and racist purposes, to reinforce racial profiling and questioning.
25% of sexual violence happen in the workplace. One in five women is a victim of harassment during her professional life. This is also being revealed following the Weinstein story, at least on social media with the Twitter thread #MeToo. Even in France, with #BalanceTonPorc, which translates into #ExposeYourPig. A powerful counter strike, whereby women denounce abuse and sexual harassment at work, usually from a supervisor or a boss. Everyday they have to fight dirty words or behaviours, even aggression… facing management, threats, and even job loss.
At the same time, the government just got rid of one of the few weak legal mechanisms that help fight harassment: the health, safety and working conditions committee. All the successive governments have been responsible in large part for women’s wages being 24% less than men’s, for abortion rights being threatened by the closing of many family planning centres, and for less than 2% of rape cases leading to a conviction.
In 21st century France, 84,000 women are raped each year and sexual violence is part of their daily life.
The capitalist society relies on this subjugation of women. It uses it to divide the oppressed, the workers, with support from all religions, which have always seen women as responsible for sins… and today see them as responsible for men’s sexuality.
Women are neither preys for the lustful, nor trophies for the powerful to collect. The media interest will probably wane rapidly, but it forced us to realise there is a fundamental problem. For things to change, the balance of power will have to be reversed. It is time to defend ourselves collectively against these men who use the power given to them by this exploitative society. It is time to react collectively against sexual harassment and even rape at the workplace.
This fight will help change the balance of power, so that someday these oppressions will be stopped for good.