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#MeToo and Women's rights

November 19, 2017

 

In the last 6 weeks, the #Me too acted like a tsunami with the break out of testimonies, accusations and demonstrations to complain about sexual harassment and sexual violence occurring to women, and in some cases to men. Beyond the accusations and individual cases, let’s hope that this movement will have several impacts for the benefit of women’s rights:

 

1. Sexual harassment and rapes are not a problem restricted to third world countries. It is also happening in rich countries and environment where it had become a taboo. The movement had the beneficial impact to show that women were not alone and isolated cases. Another positive impact was to reverse the “shame burden” from the victim to the perpetrator.

 

2. In Europe, impacts have not taken real effect yet. Indeed, as noticed by the French newspaper Libération (11/19),  the French movement “Balance ton porc” or “dump your pork” despite a real sharp initiative did not result in any involved famous politician nor famous figure losing his job or resigning unlike in the U.S.. In Germany similar initiatives already existed, and in Italy conservative newspapers have attempted pressure on several women who gave a testimony.

 

Let's hope that in the future, the movement will enable policy measures to increase prevention, protect the victims, and end impunity whenever possible.

 

Finally, sexual harassment and sexual violence are linked to what we used to call the “unconscious bias” that is hampering more gender equality. Like the famous anthropologist/sociologist Françoise Héritier showed: Gender is linked with unconscious stereotypes that makes equality so difficult to achieve. Francoise Héritier unfortunately passed away this week, but her heritage remains a key of understanding and inspiration. She showed among others that women’s rights did not have a progressive linear evolution.

 

In the future, in gender analysis, gender studies and women’s rights, there should be a category including sexual harassment and sexual violence that will enrich the analysis of the other problems such as work life balance, gender pay gap, women’s education and parity… as what we win on one front, we should not lose on the other…which is often the case in women’s rights.

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