French politics has a stubborn sexism problem that has seen its fair share of scandals. Just last week, sexual allegations by eight women against a senior French member of parliament made headlines in the country. Considering the environment of pervasive misogyny that women have had to work in for years, even decades, Sunday's searing op-ed in Journal du Dimanche by 17 powerful French female politicians seemed particularly timely.
In a vow to "no longer be silenced," the women promised to expose "all sexist remarks, inappropriate gestures and behavior," according to The Guardian. The 17 signees include managing director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde and various other female government officials across political parties.
The fury was evident in their piece:
We have been ministers; we are or have been elected representatives. Like all women who reached circles that were once exclusively masculine, we have been forced to fight against sexism. It's not for women to adapt in these circles, it's the behavior of certain men that must change. It's enough. The immunity has finished. We will no longer shut up... We encourage all victims of sexual harassment and sexual aggression to speak out and complain… we demand that our parties and groups verify if these acts have taken place and, if so, help the victims reveal the truth.
The pervasive sexism in French politics is nothing new. In 2011, Lagarde's predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was embroiled in a high profile scandal after being arrested in New York for attempted rape and sexual harassment of a hotel maid. The incident saw Strauss-Kahn resign as IMF leader and nix his potential presidential run, but it seemed to be merely an indication of how deeply rooted the culture of sexism is in France's vestibules of power.
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