Tag Archives: france

Who are the real Child Abductors?

A police photograph took over the news last week: a tiny girl sitting between her parents, all of them staring blankly into the camera. It is not a flattering picture: the man and woman seem tired,old and dead-eyed, and the little girl looks squeezed uncomfortably between them, with questioning eyes and tangled hair – like a dishevelled version of Maddie McCann. But none of this would have ever sparked anyone’s interest, if it hadn’t been for the fact that the little girl looks white, and her parents brown. Something has got to be wrong with this picture!

Or so the Greek police must have thought, when they found this family in a Roma camp they were raiding. In this environment, being a pale-skinned child that cannot speak Greek is deemed suspicious and reason enough to take her away and submit her to DNA testing. The results seemed to confirm the fears: Maria and her supposed parents were not related, ergo, she must have been abducted. The media was quick to conclude: “Once again”, those criminal vagabond gypsies had stolen a white child! The police, the charity organization responsible for Maria, and the news media started frantically searching for her parents. Where could they be found? Scandinavia was suggested as Maria’s likely origin, because, well, look at her! Continue reading

France: Pomophobia in Action

Not too long ago, I wrote about how in France the enemies of equal marriage outed themselves as the truly hypocritical bullies they are, when they reacted to counter-protestors with physical violence. Since then, I am saddened to report,  the situation has worsened.

Protests and counter-protests are staged at least once a month, with impressive turnouts on both sides, while the law guaranteeing same sex couples the right to marriage and adoption is slowly but steadily moving through the bureaucratic system towards ratification. Like German journalist and blogger Antje Schrupp has said about the women’s quota: It’s coming, no matter what; it’s only a matter of time. The same can be said for equal marriage: In societies that are founded on the principles of democracy and equality, denying certain people basic rights cannot be justified and upheld in the long run. Clearly, Western democracies are at that threshold at the moment, some more than others, but all the signs point towards progress. Continue reading

Guest Blogging

German readers and avid Google Translate users can read me over at the Mädchenmannschaft today. I wrote about the recent French law to fully reimburse contraception for minors and abortions.

Anti-gay bullies show their true colours – and it’s no rainbow

Trigger Warning for the links!

I was well aware of the demonstration against gay marriage and adoption, organized by the Catholic group Civitas, before it took place last Sunday in Paris and all over France. I knew that the intégristes are quite active in France; I’ve seen them march against abortion just a few weeks ago. Even though there were more of them than I’m comfortable with, the group wasn’t that impressive in size, considering that abortion is still quite a controversial issue, and unfortunately not only among religious fanatics.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, is kind of a no-brainer to me; that means I see absolutely no reason for why this hasn’t been written into law at least a decade ago. I’ve been convinced that society in general is more than ready to embrace the opening of marriage to same-sex couples; most people I know are in favour of it or at least indifferent. To cut to the chase: I decided not to go to the protest, because I was sure that not many people would turn up and the religious fundamentalists would simply make a fool of themselves.

Boy, was I wrong. Continue reading

The crime is not scandalous, the culture is.

[TRIGGER WARNING]

[This post has been updated since first publishing.]

These past few months have been extremely demoralizing for me, not just as a feminist but as a woman in general. Whether it’s “legitimate rape” or “culture of impunity”, the current discourse around sexual violence frightens me. The events that made the news seem to be repeating themselves over and over again, but what’s worse, they have become so normalized, almost acceptable. We have created a culture in which rape is silently condoned and even encouraged and, for the most part, unpunished.

photo by suzan black: “untitled” (2008) via fotopedia.com

The recent scandal surrounding the deceased BBC TV host and dj Jimmy Savile has clarified two things for me, and no, “rape exists” is not one of them: Continue reading

Online Dating in France: more (or less) progressive than you might think

Dating is hard, but it can also be a lot of fun. By dating I mean meeting and getting to know people one is interested in sexually and/or romantically. Young people generally do this by going to bars and clubs, meeting people at work, at university or through shared interests and hobbies. However, this doesn’t work for everyone, for example those too shy to approach someone in public or those who feel they are too old to go clubbing. Some just don’t want to take any more chances when it comes to going on dates with people, and they’d like to have a bit more information about their object of desire before risking a tête-à-tête.

That’s when online dating became the latest fad. In the beginning people had a hard time admitting that they had a profile on one of those dating websites. The general belief was that only socially aberrant freaks and other hopeless cases would have to resort to such “desperate measures”. But lo and behold, online dating is more popular than ever and has lost much of its sad reputation. One of the most popular dating websites today, OK Cupid, claims to have 7 million active users to date; that means literally 7 million users to date.

But online dating also has its downsides, especially for heterosexual women. I would estimate that about 90% of the men who get in touch with a woman online are total creeps, sexual harassers and misguided “pick-up artists” (yes, I know, the latter is a tautology). And that is not based on the woman simply being not interested, but on the completely uncalled-for messages, for which there are many wonderful examples on the internet.

And so the French, no strangers to chauvinism and misogyny, especially when it comes to dating, came up with a great idea: Let’s have women decide who gets to contact them for potential dates. The concept is fairly simple: every man and woman on the dating site gets to check out the profiles of everyone else; however, while women can send the men messages to evince interest, men are only allowed to “launch a charm” (lancer un charme), to which women may react or not. The dating site is called AdopteUnMec.com (AdoptAGuy.com for Americans) and functions as a virtual supermarket where women can “buy” men by dropping them in their shopping carts. (Yes, the capitalist analogy is quite blatant.)

So far, so interesting. Even though the page’s pink design and supermarket idea are not exactly original, the concept of leaving women in charge of the pick-up may be very appealing to both men and women. Men have less to worry about finding interesting things to say to impress the women, because they already know that the woman who contacts them is at least interested in their profile. Women on the other hand will feel more at ease in an environment that allows them to be in control of who gets to interact with them. That is, not ALL women.

Unfortunately and quite surprisingly, Adopte Un Mec has failed to acknowledge that not all men and women out there are interested in dating the opposite sex. The entire concept is obviously designed for heterosexuals, but I don’t see why it has to insist on it exclusively. After all, users can search for non-smokers, vegetarians and bisexuals, just not of the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong: it’s great to see women in charge, but why not try some more inclusive options? For example, men and women who identify as homosexual or bisexual could be allowed to message people of their own sex freely. I understand the difficulty of adapting a concept that is based on gender difference to a more heterogeneous clientele, but it seems to me that there has never even been the attempt.

The advertising is clearly directed towards men looking for hot girls, which appears to contradict the whole idea of inverting the objectification. What may have been subversive in the 80’s feels a little too “postfeminist” to me now. As a woman signing up to Adopte Un Mec, the first thing you are asked to do is decribe yourself and state what you are looking for in a man, the same way that you would describe what you look for in a new dress or a handbag you intend to buy. The idea of woman as customer and man as product doesn’t sit well with the feminist online dater, who is looking first and foremost for an egalitarian relationship. Perhaps Adopte Un Mec is not the best online dating service for the truly progressive single, but then again, if I was single I’d probably use it, if only for lack of better alternatives…

The DSK Affair – An Angry Rant

I haven’t actually had time to write a full-blown article, but I can’t help but point to the disgusting media frenzy surrounding the rape accusations regarding the IMF boss and candidate for the French Socialist party Dominique Strauss-Kahn. What actually happened? No one knows, but everyone thinks it necessary to take sides and become the judge of the hour. The way this case is being talked about resembles a lot the Assange affair in Sweden and Great Britain and the Kachelmann trial in Germany. That is not a coincidence, it seems to me…
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Why is it easier for us to believe in elaborate conspiracies than in the likelihood of a women being sexually assaulted by a man, a rich man, an powerful man, by any man? What does that say about our culture? Does it mean we don’t believe in rape anymore (because it rarely happens, right…)? Surely not. It means that we have become grown so accustomed to seeing cases like this in the news; something fishy must be in the air…
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I tell you what it is: it is living, breathing proof of rape culture. And it has become so prevalent; it has made everyone hysterical. Everyone?
The alleged victims? Hardly. It takes a lot to make these accusations and for every woman who lies about it, there are hundreds who are not being taken seriously and thousands who never even dare to go to the police.
The feminists who are fighting it? Some of them, sure. That’s because rape has become such a loaded issue in the media, it often triggers misogyny and traumatizes victims, doing more damage than good. Another feature of rape culture.
But most of all these rape apologists who see just another unfortunate man captured by the misandrist system established by greedy lobbying feminists. That’s right. It’s feminism’s fault. Because we love rape culture so much, we secretly rejoice every time a woman is sexually assaulted, because at least it means we’re right…
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Guess what? The only reason why we keep on talking, arguing and screaming about rape culture, is because we want people to know it exists. It’s not a figment of our perverse imagination, it’s not a means for us to dwell upon our victimization. It’s real and it’s happening and when things like this scandal surface, it’s all out in the open only because it happened to someone famous.
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Dear public, rape is not a creation by powerful leaders in order to eliminate their enemies. Rape is real and it happens all the time.
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UPDATE: On Wednesday, Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as chief of the IMF.
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More links:
What the French press had to say. I can’t be bothered translating, but I assure you it’s disgusting. (via Feministe)
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News- and Blogwatch

France’s Burqa Ban
Yesterday, France’s so-called burqa ban went into effect. The decision was made last summer but from now on women wearing the burqa or the niqab in public can actually be fined, can be forced to attend civilization courses and be taken into custody if they refuse to remove their veils. Two women have already been arrested who protested the burqa ban in Paris. I have stated my position on this subject last year here and here. By now it has become fairly obvious that Sarkozy is only trying to gather votes from the right. His policies on immigration and the Roma have made clear that the only women he cares about, if at all, are white and born in France.
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You can blame Feminism for everything
Every now and then scientists come up with these new theories regarding the differences between the sexes, that are somehow considered valuable for society because, duh, they’re scientists, so they must be true. Like this one: Why feminism is the anti-viagra. Neuroscientist Ogi Ogas claims that “gender equality inhibits arousal” because women are hard-wired to be submissive and cannot negotiate this natural urge with their strife towards equality, which therefore limits their libido. Now, I don’t quite understand what one’s personal sexual urges have to do with leading an emancipated life and enjoying equality in one’s relationship. After all, someone with a golden shower fetish is not likely to be urinating on people at work or his or her partner outside of “the bedroom”. But I was interested to find out what this scientist bases his theory on. He references research done on Norwegian rats. Enough said.
Needless to say, homosexual relationships don’t seem to exist in this guy’s universe. According to his theory, homosexuals would have a hard time finding a partner because the men would always want to be dominant and the women always submissive. Unless, of course, this theory doesn’t apply to them because homos are weird anyway, right?
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Future Stalkers of America
When I first read about this video, I thought it had to be a joke, possibly even a trolling stunt by men’s rights activists themselves, who enjoy posing as “feminists” in order to ridicule the movement, even though their views of feminism are completely misguided and far from reality. But no, these guys are for real: a couple of new age gurus (they still exist?) thinking they are doing the world a favor by apologizing to women on behalf of all men who have done harm to women throughout centuries of masculine rule. The concept is already flawed in itself, but the execution really takes the cake. While I do agree with perhaps a couple of statements, the overall creepiness and obsolescence of the whole thing is just unbearable. The heyday of ecofeminism was nothing in comparison. If you cannot finish watching the video, for which I don’t blame you, but you still in need of a good critique, David Futrelle over at Manboobz has a great summary:
[…] no matter how earnest all the men in the video are trying to sound, none of them (except perhaps the two ringleaders) seem to really believe the ridiculous things they’re saying. Instead, they seem to be, with varying degrees of insincerity, mouthing a series of essentially meaningless New Age platitudes – in short, simply saying what they think women want to hear.

No one is buying this bullshit, guys. Give it up.

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Daily Discoveries

Apparently you can’t find any doctors, police officers, taxi drivers, or administrative officials in Paris who are female…

"renseignements et services de votre arrondissement" ("information and services for your department")

Or perhaps I got it all wrong and this is in fact an ad for a French version of the Village People…

Slavoj Zizek On The Rise Of The Far Right In Europe

Yesterday on Democracy Now!: Amy Goodman interviews Slavoj Zizek on the Far Right and Immigrant Politicians that are on the rise in Europe.

Zizek on the emergence of the new far right movement:

[…] it’s absolutely crucial how this anti-immigrant explosion is linked to the withdrawal of leftist politics, especially in the matters of economy and so on. It is as if the left, being obsessed by the idea that we shouldn’t appear as reactionary in the economic sense, that is to say that “No, no, no, we are not the old trade union representatives of the working class, we are for postmodern digital capitalism” and so on. They don’t want to touch the working class or so-called lower ordinary people. And here right-wingers enter. Do you know, the horrible paradox is that, apart from some small leftist fringe parties, the only serious political force in Europe today which still is ready to appeal to the ordinary working people are the right-wing anti-immigrants?

To cut a long story short, very briefly, ’til now, we had the standard situation that you also have it up ’til now here: one big left-of-center party, one big right-of-center party—they are the only two parties which address the entire population—and then small fringe parties. Now, more and more in Europe, another polarity is emerging: a big liberal capitalist party, which can even be in social matters like abortion, women’s rights, relatively progressive—pure, let’s call it, capitalist party—and the only serious opposition is the immigrant—anti-immigrant nationalists.

And on the strikes in France:

Of course, in general, in principle, I support those who strike and so on. But did you notice how they are mostly—mostly—state employees with guaranteed employment and so on. […] Those who dare to strike today are usually the privileged, those who have a guaranteed state employment and so on. And they strike for these things like, no, we don’t want to freeze our salaries; we want raise them up, while, for example, in my country, there are thousands of textile workers, women, who, if one were to offer them what—that situation with regard to which those who strike today are protesting, like “we guarantee you permanent employment, just with frozen salaries for next five years,” they would say, “My god! That’s better than we dared to dream.” […] The truly needy and poor one don’t even dare to strike.

Well, what the left is missing is a kind of a more global idea of how to restructure entire economy. I mean, they are not addressing the true causes. This makes me very sad. This is typical. All that the left can do today is to propose—sorry, oppose—protest against reductions. The left is, let me be very frank, in this social sense, a conservative force. In the social sense of social, fast changes and so on, it’s capitalists who are today the revolutionary class. This makes it very sad, the situation.

You can watch it here (part 1 and part 2 of the interview).