The “gallantry of the French” in debate

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure Agence France-Presse
“In France, we are very proud of our culture libertine, but sometimes one must all the time prove that we are not a puritan, so that the fact of saying no, this is not puritanism,” says the novelist Leïla Slimani.

The French actress Catherine Deneuve and personalities defending in a forum the “freedom” of men to” annoy “the women put in the debate in France on the theme of a” gallantry of the French, ” who would rule with the puritanism of the anglo-saxon.


The discussion is particularly lively, as it breaks the unanimisme which had prevailed since the beginning of the case, Weinstein.


“Rape is a crime. But the dredge insistent or awkward is not a crime, nor the gallantry aggression macho, ” claims the op-ed published Tuesday in the daily le Monde. Signed by a hundred personalities, she is concerned about a return of the ” puritanism “.


“I have not seen fall on the France puritanism. It continues to drag, to love, to play and without a problem, ” retorted the novelist franco-moroccan Leïla Slimani.


“In France, we are very proud of our culture libertine, but sometimes one must all the time prove that we are not a puritan, so that the fact of saying no, this is not puritanism,” she added to the AFP.


In October, the revelations about the powerful producer in hollywood Harvey Weinstein had led to a wave of testimonies of assault, gender-based and sexual, that these persons qualify as the ” campaign of the delations “.


About about to reverse public attitudes elicited so far, especially noticed that they are signed by an actress of international renown and that they were published two days after the Golden Globes, where the middle of the american cinema were united against sexual violence.


“The culture of the gallantry of the French has always been there,” says the historian of the feminist Françoise Picq, questioned by the AFP. “Already, in the Middle Ages, it was called courtly love poetic tradition to write verse to the women, put them on a pedestal. “For her, this culture is” perverse “, because it nourishes ” the absence of a revolt of the women “.


The three G


In October, the actress Isabelle Adjani observed that” in France, there are three G : gallantry, grivoiserie, loutishness. Drag from one to the other until the violence in the pretext of the game of seduction is one of the weapons of defense from predators and stalkers “, denounced-it.


“It is a little bit “poisoned”, in quotes, in France, by the idea of gallantry, “which” would be an expression of civilization, of the French culture, of good relations that there would be in our country compared to the other, between men and women “, said on France Culture the historian Michelle Perrot.


“It is a myth, interesting, brilliant, but that covers the background of a special mastery of men over women in our country “, she added.


For Réjane Sénac, director of research at Sciences Po, this forum shows the ” weight of a legacy egalitarian ambivalent “.


“Our republican model is built on a myth of egalitarian, paradoxically, based on the complementarity between men and women, on the model dad/mom “, writes the author of The non-brethren in the land of equality. “This is the name of this that women have long been excluded from the right to vote, because they were not considered as autonomous beings. “


Beyond the signatories, the text has, however, found support.


“What I liked is that it is women who take the word in order to say what men cannot say for months. To know that we are not all pigs, ” said Wednesday on the radio France Inter, the writer Frédéric Beigbeder.


If you are looking at things positively, “there is a specificity of French, which is one of debate, of controversy, a certain freedom of tone and expression,” said the former socialist minister of women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol.


Sociologist and director of research at the centre de recherches politiques, Cevipof, Janine Mossuz-Lavau has investigated the love life of the French. Today, compared to 17 years ago, ” we can talk more easily touching, assault suffered. There has been an awareness “.


According to the national Institute of demographic studies (INED), in France, nearly three million women aged 20 to 69 years undergo each year in the public space a situation the drag is upsetting and more than a million, situations of harassment and with sexual.

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