Policy

French Women: Maybe You Gross Old Politicians Should Keep Your Paws Off the Help

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Good headline

Maureen Dowd reads the French press:

Tuesday [saw a] remarkable front page of Libération — photos of six prominent French women in politics with the headline "Marre des machos," or "Sick of machos."

"Is this the end of the ordinary misogyny that weighs on French political life?" the paper asked, adding: "Tongues have become untied."

In the wake of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, as more Frenchwomen venture sexual harassment charges against elite men, the capital of seduction is reeling at the abrupt shift from can-can to can't-can't. Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical weekly, still argues that "News always stops at the bedroom door," but many French seem ready to bid adieu to the maxim.

As Libération editor Nicolas Demorand wrote in an editorial: "Now that voices have been freed, and the ceiling of glass and shame has been bashed in, other scandals may now arise."

After long scorning American Puritanism and political correctness on gender issues, the French are shocked to find themselves in a very American debate about the male exploitation/seduction of women, and the nature of consent. […]

The French president wasted no time jettisoning a junior minister — also the mayor of Draveil — who was accused of sexual assault by two former employees. Georges Tron resigned on Sunday after the two women in their mid-30s said they had gotten the courage to come forward after the Strauss-Kahn arrest.

Tron, it seems, liked to give foot massages and sometimes more. It got to the point where some women would wear boots if they knew Monsieur Masseur was coming to a meeting.  

I keep asking, and no French person can seem to remember a politician before Tron who ever suffered professionally as the result of a sex scandal. It's impossible to overstate just how huge this news is in France–basically, imagine Ronald Reagan getting caught on a rape charge in Paris in 1979–and some of the fallout will change that country for the better.

Meanwhile, Katha Pollitt is totally breaking up with Gay Paree: "France, I don't like you anymore. Because what is the point of having all those smart, cultivated, social-democratically inclined secular people if it turns out they are such self-satisfied creeps?"