These French Politicians Have Vowed to Expose and End All Forms of Sexism in Government

AP

Seventeen female French politicians have signed an editorial decrying pervasive sexism in the their country's government. "It's not on women to adapt themselves to these worlds, it's the behavior of certain men that has to change," the editorial, published in the Journal du Dimanche, reads. Fed up with a work culture marked by sexual harassment and misogyny, they bridged party lines in a statement against "all sexist remarks, uncalled-for gestures and inappropriate behavior," the Guardian reported Sunday.

"This happens every day to women on public transportation, in the street, in businesses, in universities," the editorial reads. "Enough is enough. Impunity is finished. We will not keep quiet anymore."

Christine Lagarde  WPA Pool/Getty Images

Signees include Christine Lagarde, currently the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and women of various political beliefs, united in their refusal to adhere to the "code of silence" they say dictates their country's political landscape.   

Mentioned in the editorial are Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Denis Baupin. The former headed the IMF until 2011, when he was arrested for assaulting a hotel employee in New York. The latter was deputy speaker of France's National Assembly until allegations of sexual harassment from nine women prompted his resignation and have recently sparked broader conversation about the way male politicians treat their female colleagues, which seems to be with disrespect. 

"One cannot say to a woman — whatever her status might be, whether she's an employee, a student, unemployed, a stay-at-home mother or an elected representative — about a female colleague: 'Apart from her magnificent breasts, what is she?,'" the editorial states. "One cannot say to her in a smutty way: 'Your skirt is too long, you need to shorten it' or 'are you wearing a thong?'"  

Women protest in front of France's national assembly on May 11; their banner reads "la barbe," which translates to "the beard" and means "enough."  Dominique Faget/Getty Images

As the JDD editorial stressed, the "scourge" of harassment extends far beyond the political sphere, although lawmakers should be made to abide their own laws. Those who signed the JDD letter want to change the way men think about women, and called for victims to come forward in order to institute actionable change. 

"Women must be able to work, go out in the street, take public transportation without having to suffer uncalled for remarks and gestures," the editorial continued. "We would have far preferred never having to repeat this, we would have adored if we'd never had to write to this newspaper."

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