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France: French Women Bloggers on the DSK Scandal

French feminist bloggers and women bloggers writing on women's issues, have gained a larger audience and a new respect in France in the aftermath of the Domininique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) scandal. They were the first and very few voices reminding that there was a woman involved, possibly a victim, and they drew attention to the biased and sexist coverage of the French media.

Meet a few French feminist bloggers, blogging from different perspectives but all laboring online against prejudices and the French perception of sexual harassment and crimes.

Clémentine Autain

Clementine Autain

Clementine Autain

Clémentine Autain [fr] has gained a new following this week in France for being the first prominent French blogger and politician to speak out against the barrage of pro-DSK coverage on the day the news broke, in this blogpost, ‘A thought for the chambermaid‘ [fr]:

Qui a une pensée pour la femme de chambre ? Pas grand monde, et cela me scandalise.[…] Je veux dire l’omerta qui pèse sur les violences faites aux femmes,

Who spares a thought for the chambermaid? Not many people, and that shocks me. […] I want to talk about the law of silence that weighs on violences against women.

In 2006, in one of her first blog posts, “Why I am a feminist‘ [fr], Clémentine Autain spoke openly of being herself a rape victim at age 22 and how it has been central to her political and feminist engagement. She filed a complaint and her rapist was tried and convicted.

Olympe et le plafond de verre

Olympe et le plafond de verre

Olympe et le plafond de verre

Olympe was spurred to create her blog [fr] about gender discrimination in the work place by her own experience of the plafond de verre (glass ceiling) in work, business and politics.

Her blog is a diary of  big and small offenses done to women in daily life, in politics or in the media. She kept a log of links pointing to disparaging comments published in French media about the chambermaid [fr], and writes:

If you file a complaint for rape, this is what you should expect [all links in fr]:

- They will ask  how on earth raping you is possible because you are unattractive: “Apparently the lawyers were surprised during the court appearance by how unattractive the young lady was.” [on national French radio RMC]

- Or, on the contrary, that your femaleness could explain everything:  “this chambermaid is a very pretty 30-year old with a nice bosom and behind.” [a quote published in national French daily Le Parisien]

- Or that you are stupid: “He could plead that she had misunderstood, that he was trying to flirt with her and she did not understand.” [on national daily newspaper Le Figaro]

- But after all, il n'y a pas mort d'homme” (no one was killed) – a comment by Jack Lang [former French Minister of culture and education] reveals his concept of rape.

Her top award goes to Jean-François Khan, a famous editorialist, who compared the alleged sexual assault of DSK, if proven, to “a romp with the chambermaid” [on national radio France Culture].

Osez le féminisme

Osez le feminisme [fr] is a website and organization intent on creating a grassroot feminist movement in France. When French commentators went overboard with lewd comments, the site published an appeal stressing what was at stake [fr]: 

To demean the testimony of the plaintif is a serious matter, and dangerous. Serious, because it adds to the burden of this woman. Dangerous, because it signals to rape victims, present or future, that filing a complaint exposes you to risks. […] Osez le féminisme reminds you that every year, in France, 75 000 women are raped. Only  10% of those file a complaint.

Les aventures d'Euterpe

Les aventures d'Eutherpe

Les aventures d'Eutherpe

Hélène's blog, Les aventures d'Euterpe [fr] is dedicated to “search for women lost in the space-time continum”.

She often revisits history in a feminist and playful style, like in this post on the rehabilitation of serial killer Henry the VIII [fr] in the British television series ‘The Tudors‘. In her post ‘Omerta in France‘ [fr] (the law of silence in France that bred the DSK scandal), she wrote:

L'information s'arrête toujours à la porte de la chambre à coucher. Très bien, mais…même si derrière cette porte quelqu'un.e est en train de hurler au viol ?

Information stops at the door of the bedroom. Fine, but…What if behind that door, someone is screaming because he/she is being raped?

Causette

'Causette' magazine cover

'Causette' magazine cover

Finally, women in France can now turn to Causette [fr], a successful and refreshing magazine supportive of women, which was launched in 2009.

Flocha, on Causette‘s online readers page [fr] is waiting for her magazine's opinion on the DSK scandal:

Before long, we're going to hear she was consenting, she had provoked him with her dress, or that she lied! It stinks! Or is it only me? I'm sure I'm not! I've got an ally: Causette!!! Please say something!!!

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