5 December 2020 02:05 PM

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AMITABH SRIVASTAVA | 28 OCTOBER, 2020

A Call to Boycott Men

‘They sow misfortune, we want joy’


There is a new controversy raging in the city of love.

Women who identify as feminists have burnt their bras, declined to shave their body hair, accused prominent male attackers online – and now one is asking for a complete boycott of men.

Reminiscent of the 1905 science fiction story Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, the call comes from Alice Coffin, whose debut book Le Génie Lesbien (the lesbian spirit) has created a virtual storm in France.

Lesbos was home of the songwriter Sappho, some of whose surviving poems speak about love between women.

Coffin, a lesbian herself, is co-founder of the French Association of LGBT Journalists.

She taught journalistic writing for eight years at the Catholic University of Paris, but so virulent has been the reaction to her book that her teaching contract was not renewed.

In media interviews after the publication of her book, Coffin urges women to completely boycott men, saying:

“It’s not enough to help one another, we have to erase them. Erase them from our minds, from our pictures, from our representation. I don’t read books by men anymore, I don’t watch their movies, I don’t listen to their music.”

Hitting out at government officials and media owners she said each is worse than the other. “Let them go. They sow misfortune, we want joy. Being a lesbian is a party, they won’t spoil it.”

She says she stopped seeing films produced by men because they objectify women: “Following on a well-oiled mechanism created by the Catholic state, the movie industry turned women into objects to massacre, while still putting them on the highest of pedestals.

“Be beautiful and shut up, be beautiful and I rape you, be beautiful, you’re going to die – this is the movie industry,” she said.

She questions the lack of reason in responses to her call: “When we, feminists, put together lists, produce data, they are outraged, they have the nerve to say: ‘But you don’t think, you just hate men.’”

Coffin was a Fulbright scholar at Drexel University, working on ‘The Negative Impact of Neutrality on LGBT Issues in the French Media’.

It is ironic that France, which gave the Eurocentric world its postwar feminist movement, is so full of contradictions.

Behind a facade of cultural unity operate unwritten codes about dress, sex and femininity that coexist with a lingering predatory sexual culture.

As in India, the #MeToo movement barely managed to take off in France, which has one of the highest rates in western Europe of women killed by a domestic partner.

Now a new generation is trying to change things.

Many of these youngsters were on the streets protesting against the award of a prestigious César to Roman Polanski, who had fled from the United States after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor.

Although Coffin’s book is raking up five-star ratings on Amazon, it has earned her flak.

Marlène Schiappa, formerly President Emmanuel Macron’s minister for gender equality, accused her of advocating “a form of apartheid”.

Sonia Mabrouk, a radio host, asked the author on her show if she was not promoting “obscurantism” and a “form of totalitarianism”.

Author Agnes Poirier has argued that Le Génie Lesbien would be called “ridiculous” by Simone de Beauvoir, author of the landmark book The Second Sex published in 1949.

At the time of its publication Le Deuxième Sexe was called “pornography” by religious heads and the Vatican put it on the Catholic church’s list of banned books.

Unlike Coffin, de Beauvoir was an advocate of bisexuality.


 

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