'Majorité Opprimée': It's a woman's world
A French feminist dared to depict what life would be like for an ordinary man in a female-dominated world. Now the short film has gone viral, finds John Lichfield
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Tuesday 11 February 2014
Imagine a world where it is the women who pee in the street, jog bare-chested and harass and physically assault the men. Such a world has just gone viral on the internet. A nine-minute satirical film made by Eleonoré Pourriat, the French actress, script-writer and director, has clocked up hundreds of thousands of views in recent days.
The movie, Majorité Opprimée or "Oppressed Majority", was made in 2010. It caused a flurry of interest when it was first posted on YouTube early last year. But now it's time seems to have come. "It is astonishing, just incredible that interest in my film has suddenly exploded in this way," Ms Pourriat told The Independent. "Obviously, I have touched a nerve. Women in France, but not just in France, feel that everyday sexism has been allowed to go on for too long."
The star of the short film is Pierre, who is played very convincingly by Pierre Bénézit. He is a slightly gormless stay-at-home father, who spends a day besieged by the casual or aggressive sexism of women in a female-dominated planet. The film, in French with English subtitles, begins in a jokey way and turns gradually, and convincingly, nasty. It is not played for cheap laughs. It has a Swiftian capacity to disturb by the simple trick of reversing roles.
Pierre, pushing his baby-buggy, is casually harassed by a bare-breasted female jogger. He meets a male, Muslim babysitter, who is forced by his wife to wear a balaclava in public. He is verbally abused - "Think I don't see you shaking your arse at me?" - by a drunken female down-and-out. He is sexually assaulted and humiliated by a knife-wielding girl gang. ("Say your dick is small or I'll cut off your precious jewels.")
He is humiliated a second time by a policewoman, who implies that he invented the gang assault. "Daylight and no witnesses, that's strange," she says. As she takes Pierre's statement, the policewoman patronises a pretty, young policeman. "I need a coffee, cutie."
Pierre's self-important working wife arrives to collect him. She comforts him at first, calling him "kitten" and "pumpkin". When he complains that he can no longer stand the permanent aggression of a female-dominated society, she says that he is to blame because of the way he dresses: in short sleeves, flip-flops and Bermudas.
A scene from 'Opressed Majority' by Eleonoré Pourriat that has now gone viral At the second, or third, time of asking, interest in Ms Pourriat's highly charged little movie has exploded in recent days on social media and on feminist and anti-feminist websites on both sides of the Channel and on both sides of the Atlantic. Some men refuse to see the point. "Sorry, but I would adore to live such a life," said one French male blogger. "To be raped by a gang of girls. Great! That's every man's fantasy."
Ms Pourriat, 42, acts and writes scripts for comedy movies in France. This was her first film as director. "It is rooted absolutely in my own experience as a woman living in France," she tells me. "I think French men are worse than men elsewhere, but the incredible success of the movie suggests that it is not just a French problem.
"What angers me is that many women seem to accept this kind of behaviour from men or joke about it. I had long wanted to make a film that would turn the situation on its head.
"It is important to use humour, or derision, to hook the audience, but it's not intended as a funny film. It's a very serious subject."
Ms Pourriat is now making another short movie in similar style, called Tous à Poil - or "All Bare". The subject is the growing trend among girls and young women in France for full depilation of their private parts, which Ms Pourriat believes is "imposed" by young men as a way of reasserting gender domination.
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