Just imagine you wake up tomorrow morning and women have taken power over men – that would be quite exciting ! And behave like men… Nightmarish !
In her short film, « The Oppressed Majority » director, Eléonore Pourriat decided to show a day in the life of a man submitted to the abusive power of the female. It starts with nice flirting compliments in the lobby, while our plumpy male protagonist in Bermuda shorts is checking his mail box, then comes verbal harrassment by a homeless woman asking for money, proposing a blow job and insulting him when she doesn’t get any coin. Then the man meets with a band of « bad ass babes » who tease him, whom he finally insults thus leading to a dangerous escalation. The girls threaten him with knives and - which must hurt - bite his private parts. Then you find the man at the police station explaining what he underwent but he is confronted with an unsympathetic female officer suggesting that may be so, but he just « asked for it ». Then, his wife, the typical head of family, who-could-not-come-earlier because of work picks up her bruised husband, suggesting this would not have happened if he were wearing longer Bermudas. It looks very caricatural,
Too short a skirt
I remember when I was working for a national newspaper, I received the criticism of wearing « too short a skirt », I was not raped though but I did lose my job and that was put forward as one of the unofficial reasons. It was in the nineties, not so long ago. I wonder if that male chauvinism (or chauvi-cynism) is typically French but the number of times French women find themselves in a harrassment situation is not seldom. It is very common while walking in the street to encounter men pulling out a suggestive tongue… and if you tell them to get lost, they start insulting you especially if there is a bunch of them, workers in the building industry. I remember once a homeless man who shouted at me « you even do not have an ass », which is a little ambiguous in French for « avoir du cul » means to be lucky and whatever its meaning, this insult depressed me for the whole day.
As a woman in such situations, you feel absolutely impotent. You feel very very angry. You know you cannot fight back and if you do, you will get hurt morally or physically. And if something bad happens, it may be suggested that you got what you deserved. That used to happen a lot when women filed complaints for rape in France.
The short movie is clearly a criticism of male dominated society and not that far from reality. It looks and sounds like a film of the 80’s or 90’s, but with the economic crisis, there is certainly a « Backlash » for women, as in Susan Faludi’s book
The planet of women
On the same now classical theme, I tend to prefer the short film by director, Alice Mitterrand, « la planète des femmes » (The planet of Women, 2010) which was nominated for the Festival of Humour in l’Alpe d’Huez. The scene takes place at a gas station and the domineering woman lowers her husband’s self esteem by flirting with a sexy young man. It is very funny and I identify more with this vision, which is for me, feminist in a better way for I feel I belong to that type of sarcastic kind of woman who does not consider herself a victim and has enough distance to have a good laugh.
In both films, men are portrayed as ridiculous fragile little things (the vision they have of women), in Alice Mitterrand’s short movie, it makes you laugh but in Eléonore Pourriat’s you cannot laugh for it is too dramatic nor feel empathy towards the plumpy man in Bermudas for he is hopeless. I think the idea is brilliant but the fact that the violence is not graphic nor realistic enough and that one does not really feel compassion, unfortunately spoils its effect.
Behind it, there is, non volens, between the lines, this cliché that if women had the power they would be as bad as men. Just like American Miranda Barbour, raped from 4-years-old on, who admitted killing at least 22 men, after she was accused of murdering a 42 year old man in Pensylvania.
To paraphrase, French journalist, Françoise Giroud who said women would be equal to men when mediocre women would have become decision makers. I would tend to think – I feel very naughty for saying say so - but that when you have more women serial killers, it will be the sign that everything is possible for women. What do you think?