Women’s Day: #MaintenantOnAgit Says the Eiffel Tower

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The message of “Maintenant On Agit” which translates into “Now We Act” was projected on Eiffel Tower last night on the eve of  Women’s Day. #MaintenantOnAgit is a popular hashtag and tagline to the French Time’s Up movement, which is a reflection of what is on the minds of millions of French women and authorities. That the time has come to take women’s struggle against sexual harassment a step further and take some actions against the offenders.

France is embroiled in a widespread uproar over sexual harassment

In France too the #MeToo campaign resonated with numerous girls and women, who face sexual harassment on a daily basis. The casualisation of this harassment is not only humiliating, but also gives a sense of entitlement to many men.

In France, the lines between flirting, courtship, harassment, romance, aggression and passion are so blurred that no one knows how to separate right from wrong anymore.

Just a couple of months ago, hundreds of women led by French actor Catherine Deneuve signed a petition defending the behaviour of French men. They actually said that there was nothing wrong with  Gallantry Macho Aggression, and warned about a new movement of “puritanism” sparked by recent sexual harassment cases. While France grapples with the morality of such actions, women are not letting the matter be brushed under carpet. Thus the decision to display #MaintenantOnAgit of all the possible messages, on the Eiffel Tower is a sign that authorities side with survivors despite protest from a certain section.

Now We Act

“Now We Act” is a powerful message for all of us, and not just French women. The world knows and accepts that it has long let men with power, entitlement and money get away with misconduct. Many prominent men have faced legal actions, and both media and authorities now show zero tolerance to abuse of women. This is a big achievement on its own.

But what about the faceless abusers, who get away with entitlement that comes super glued to their Y-chromosomes?

It is now time to act against these offenders, or the mentality they herd and propagate, that we need to squash. Now We Act is about taking what we have gained from #MeToo and Time’s Up and using it to bring some social changes. Without #MeToo, “Maintenant On Agit” is not possible. But without #MaintenantOnAgit there is no relevance of #MeToo. It is because of our protests and uproar.

The display of this message on the Eiffel Tower is a cue to change the course of our battle slightly. So, we need to keep up with protests and disruption. But it is also important that we follow it up with immense pressure on the society to change. It can be either a legal crackdown or social or both. But it has to be as vociferous as our protests.

Also Read : This Women’s Day, Let’s Pledge Commitment to Indoor Activism

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own