What’s Current: France introduces bill which would fine men for public sexual harassment

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.

  • A new bill in France aims to lengthen the time limit for reporting rape, set a new legal age of consent — 15 — at which a minor is considered able to agree to a sexual relationship with someone over 18, and target public sexual harassment. The legislation, once passed, would be enforced by police officers issuing on-the-spot fines and is backed by 90 per cent of the French public, according to a poll.
  • An Edmonton softball coach’s decision to allow trans-identified males on his amateur girls’ league has prompted policy reviews at the sport’s highest levels in Canada. As a result of these reviews, Softball Canada now plans to drop the requirement that trans-identified players prove they are going through “gender re-assignment” in order to play on the team with which they identify.
  • An employer of Krissy Pejcinovski, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on Tuesday, says the history of abuse was well known in their workplace.
  • Ottawa professor, Chris Bruckert, claims pimps are necessary to keep prostituted women “safe.”
Jess Martin
Jess Martin

Jess Martin is a public relations professional, an aspiring writer, and an assistant editor at Feminist Current. She prefers to write about feminist topics, disability, or environmental issues, but could be persuaded to broaden her horizons in exchange for payment and/or food. In her spare time Jess can be found knitting, gardening, or lying in the fetal position, mulling over political theory that no one in their right mind cares about.

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  • ohffs

    Excellent. High time. Nothing has ever been tried to make it clear this behaviour is wrong and nothing will ever change until it is. No problem at all for the majority of men who keep telling us “but not all men” so clearly they won’t have to worry. And I genuinely don’t give a shit if you’re a handmaiden who just lurves being harassed. You’ll still find ways to find creepy men to sleaze on you, and the rest of the population meanwhile gets peace.

    And yes, it will make a difference. And it doesn’t have to be generally enforceable to work. When society actually condemns a behaviour instead of winking at it and pretending to condemn it occasionally it drops to almost zero. You can never prevent all creepy weirdos from behaving badly, but knowing they are in fact condemned by society and it’s illegal will definitely make a difference. Remember when smokers said you couldn’t change such a hugely prevalent behaviour? Back when they were smoking in aeroplanes, hospitals and offices? Remember when they said women would never get the vote, that’s the way it always had been and always would be?

    I saw one “but not all de menz” apologist claiming it was harsh for a first offence. But of course, everyone knows this won’t be levvied for a first offence. Just the first time someone’s caught these cretins and forced them to behave like a decent human being. Making women’s lives a misery their entire entitled greasy sleazy lives more than likely.

    A much fairer penalty for a lifetime of harming women would be a good swift kick to the nuts and a much larger fine, sadly hard to organise that though. A light sentence like a 500 fine is at least a start.

    Also heard the MRA apologist claiming it would make the poor little menz feel resentful. Strangely, I’ve no fucking interest in whether or not criminals feel resentful when they’re caught and have literally never heard this argument used to try to minimise punishment for crimes aimed at men.

    Besides, sleazy street harassers are already antisocials with issues, pulling them into line won’t change that and if the argument is (as his was) they’ll behave worse if punished then they need instead to be locked up for their first punishment. But as we know their resentment is largely irrelevant as they’re sleazy creepy cowards.

    Decent people don’t care if creeps get their feelings hurty wurted. They care about stopping them from continuing to abuse half the human race with impunity.

    Bottom line, people with a vested interest in continuing to behave badly will always make incorrect claims about not being able to change bad behaviours and argue with vehemence to try to prevent change.

    We can definitely change this. Its not natural, it’s not innate, it’s actually a pretty new behaviour so far as human evolution is concerned. And it’s high time it stopped.

    • Nan

      Great analysis. I agree at 99%. There’s just this one sentence: “it’s actually a pretty new behaviour so far as human evolution is concerned.”
      I’ve never read any proof of this unfortunately. But it’s not a reason not to change things.

    • OldPolarBear

      This was a really good and thorough comment, and yes, the smoking analogy is quite appropriate. I am old enough to remember when smoking everywhere was just a fact of life. Anyone who didn’t want it around or even asked politely if it could just be moved a little farther away, please, was the overbearing and imposing bad guy. At one 4-to-midnight shift job I had, we used to get together on paydays to call in takeout from some local place. One person would collect the money and go pick it up and we would have it at our workstations to munch on while we worked. A new manager came in and banned us from having food at our desks. FOOD! Like, what is necessary for the sustainment of human life. Some of us complained bitterly about the plumes of cigarette smoke curling up from work surfaces two feet away. “Why can’t we restrict smoking?” we asked. Manager answered, quoting the company “human resources” person: “Because it’s a habit.” WTF? EATING is a habit with me, but you restrict where and when I can do it! No avail. Then, a relatively few years later, everything changed. So yes, this can, too.

      And I genuinely don’t give a shit if you’re a handmaiden who just lurves being harassed.

      To the extent this gets commentary and feedback in the US, I expect such women will be on the front lines, and probably even some TIMs who get their kicks and validation this way. Years ago, my local paper ran an oped from a young, female college student who was basically saying, “but I LIIIIEEK it!” Someone who knew that I had been speaking out against catcalling, etc., pointed it out and was all, “See? What about this woman, she likes having the attention, why can’t she have what she wants?” I can’t argue that well, but I said something about how there are people who say they like to be tied up and whipped and what not, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to grab somebody off the street at random and do it to them. That seemed to make an impression at least. It would be possible to find somebody who would say they liked or wanted practically anything.

  • bradleyscreek

    Love her nomenclature here. I guess rapists are “delinquent customers” and batterers are “second-party domestic combatants.”

  • Why is the sample size ludicrous? Isn’t how representative it is more important? And don’t you need just enough to reach saturation? I imagine you’d reach saturation pretty quickly with something like this. Agree with you on the ratio of management to worker.

    Also, I know in the past pimps were useful in that they took care of the police (bribes to all the right people). I’m not defending them, mind you. Just saying they sometimes had their silver lining.

    • Kathleen Lowrey

      Sample size matters depending on what larger entity you say your research applies to: she claims to be talking about “the sex industry”. That’s a really big entity! 75 pimps all based in Canada (in fact, I am guessing, Ontario) as speaking to the whole “sex industry” shebang is, indeed, ludicrous. From what I can tell from the book’s ToC actually quite a few of those 75 are managers or bouncers at strip clubs, which, again, is misleading when her public representation of her work is “I have proven pimps are awesome”.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Apparently all Canadian crim profs are part of the sex work lobby… At SFU this is certainly the case. They are all in cahoots with organizations like Pivot, and do tons of research promoting the legalization of the trade.

    • Christine

      So disturbing and discouraging. I’m so angry at universities in general.

  • Nan

    There have been progress indeed, but the cultural shift is meeting harsh resistance. Symbolic laws such as this one are useful, but I would be more convinced of our government’s commitment to women’s rights and safety if they were also funding programs that cost real money, such as battered women’s refuges, rather than cutting feminist associations subsidies. At the same time Spain invests a lot of money against VAW, whereas their economic situation is even more difficult than ours.

    I don’t fully share your appreciation of President Macron’s stance against religious extremism. The program to prevent Islamist radicalisation is interesting and better thought out than I expected (it just comes 20 years to late). BUT Macron is very complacent with religions trying to weight on social life. His declaration to religious leaders about “the risk of radicalisation of laïcité” (the French Republic’s principle of separation between Church & State and freedom of conscience) is utter nonsense.

  • ohffs

    Apologies for typos, but if I edit will have to go through mod process again.

  • Maria Gatti

    I’m well over 40. Was involved in social movements 40 years ago, including organising a union in a pink-collar ghetto (a bookshop chain), pro-choice, antiwar etc. Sure hope I’m still beyond cool. Livia my black cat is the essence of cool.

  • Christine

    That’s fair. I was annoyed by most of the pieces the Guardian ran on International Women’s Day (just for example). Bindel’s was the exception.

    I don’t bother with comment sections on most websites for the reasons you outline. Not worth it.

    I’m admittedly biased on issues like this because I briefly had the opportunity to work on a statute revision project, but the government deemed it too expensive and cancelled it (and I have been underemployed ever since). Considering the cost of introducing and passing new legislation, I think it is much wiser and more efficient to ensure that existing laws are enforced and/or amended if need be.

    Too often, the primary purpose of introducing a bill is simply to spread propaganda for the party in power, in my view.

    I respect your conviction, and I’m not trying to push my views on you.

    Nevertheless, here are the closing paragraphs of the Bindel piece for anyone reading this who doesn’t want to give the Guardian the clicks:

    A pilot scheme launched by Nottingham police in 2016 dealt with “misogynistic acts” as hate crimes. The media attention the scheme attracted may well have sent out a powerful message that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, but it is hardly sustainable. Women have been raised under a culture of male privilege and female worthlessness. We are expected to put up with horrendous treatment by men, whether sexual harassment in the workplace, violence and abuse in the home or the everyday sexism that we often dismiss as unimportant. With this in mind, can we really expect women to report to police an incident involving catcalling and sexual objectification?

    Frankly, I would rather police and the Crown Prosecution Service dealt efficiently with the serious crimes that are perpetrated against women and girls on a daily basis. Whether it is police blaming girls being raped and abused by gangs of men who were allowed to roam free, not believing early victims of taxi rapist John Worboys or the failing to deal adequately with shocking cases of stalking and harassment of women, it is clear that much male violence is not treated as a crime at all.

    I could not care less if criminalising misogynistic abuse of women gives ammunition to the so-called “anti-PC brigade”. Anything feminists demand will be criticised by them. But I do care that there continues to be constant calls for new laws to be introduced to deal with the harassment of women and girls. The system is woefully inadequate in dealing with the laws supposed to protect them against violence and abuse that are already on the statute. Men have been getting away with abusing women since time immemorial, and we have had enough.

  • ohffs

    This one’s pretty good. I follow The Dark Mountain Project and Deep Green Resistance amongst others and avoid most mainstream news as the white male capitalist patriarchal plagues they are. Spent years reading their skewed sexist and misogynistic filth. No longer subject myself to it as there’s zero gain.

  • ohffs

    I wonder if anything positive written about pimps was written or heavily infuenced by men.

    Just kidding, I don’t wonder at all.

  • ohffs

    Also, cost is irrelevant. There’s plenty of money – always – for old boy crony projects and war mongering. Their excuses re cost are just that, excuses.

  • Christine

    Good for you for getting out, and I feel for you. I never really got started on an academic career… it was a tough slog just getting through my MA program. Like you, I take some responsibility for the fact that it didn’t work out (in my case, I had serious personal problems and I’m doing much better now, ten years on).

    My father is a retired professor who started his career in the ’60s and feels very strongly that he was lucky to get in when he did, both because of the security he enjoyed and because academia has been steadily losing all credibility and purpose for the sake of doing big business.

  • Rachael

    France makes me hopeful right now

  • Maria Gatti

    They most certainly do, and women, girls (and sometimes boys) are among the ‘spoils’ of war.

  • Elise

    Churches are financed through taxes only in 3 departments which were not part of the country when the law separating church and state as passed in 1905.
    However, donations to churches are partially deductible from tax, as are donations to many other associations.
    Churches built before 1905 generally belong to the town, and maintenance is assured by the town (important repair, not electricity bill)

  • Mexican American Lesbian

    How much are you willing to bet that the less than ten percent that don’t agree with this are either right-wing libertarians that think rape culture is a myth or far-right jackoffs that think it’s only brown men who do this?

  • Nan

    Sorry for the late answer. Elise said most of it, so just a few more info :
    Article 2 of the 1905 law states that “the Republic neither recognizes nor employs nor subsidizes cults”. So priests’s wages are paid by the Church using parishioners’ donations, not taxpayers (apart from 3 departments as explained by Elise).
    In 1905, the state declared itself owner of most of the real estate belonging to the Church at the time. In retrospect, it is probably an economic benediction for the Church as the maintenance of 40,000+ religious buildings is costly and the value of other assets involved such as agrarian land has plummeted. But it was not the intended effect at the time, and the law was battled fiercely by the Church.