Can women ever be aggressive towards men AND for that to be acceptable? Living in Paris for a small amount of time has unlocked my aggressive side in the street. In London and Bristol, I just mind my own business but Paris has been a different experience for me: the sexually aggressive nature of some Parisian men is mind-boggling.
Case 1: I am in an internet café, typing away. The man next to me proceeds to put his bloody hand on mine and it was not a damn accident.
Case 2: At McDonalds with my friend, minding my own business and when a guy is told politely that I don’t have a telephone so that he can stop touching me and as we try to leave, his friend starts barking like an Alsatian calling me “méchante” (mean) and looks like he is ready to start a fight.
Case 3: My friends were in a bar in the Bastille area of central Paris. A man is politely told that she is not interested, then he just goes off his head and starts throwing obscenities her way and tried to get physical.
I have realised that that layer of aggression is hidden underneath the beauty of this city. Of course, not all Parisian men are like this but when I learnt of the horrific gang rapes that have occured in banlieue (suburb) of Paris made me think: should I be submissive the next time a man tries to get bright? I have realised that it is better to remain quiet and try not to talk back because that is when some of these men become very very aggressive.
The gang rape in Paris is frightening. Read the exercept below from IHT (I am in NO WAY WHATSOEVER comparing my experiences with aggressive men to this horrifican and brutal crime because mine was harmless but the victims of these gang rapes are suffering):
The boys were patient, standing in line and waiting their turn to rape. Their two victims, girls of 13, were patient as well, never crying out, at least that is what the neighbors said, and enduring the violence and abuse not once, but repeatedly over five months. That was three years ago. Late last month, 10 young men, now ranging in age from 18 to 21, were convicted of rape in a closed courtroom in nearby Evry and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to five years. Seven others will go on trial in November. The fact that they are being brought to justice at all is highly unusual.
The phenomenon of gang rape in France has become banal. It occurs – how often is unknown – in the concrete wastelands built as cheap housing for immigrants on the outskirts of France’s big cities. Here, according to sociologists and prosecutors, teenage boys, many of them loosely organized into gangs, prey on neighborhood girls.
Many of the boys are raised in closed, traditional families and are hopelessly confused or ignorant about sex; others are simply street toughs. In this world, women enjoy little respect; often girls who appear weak, or who wear tight-fitting clothing or go out unaccompanied by their fathers or brothers are considered fair game.
To avoid trouble, many girls of the projects have taken to wearing loose-fitting jogging clothes and hidden themselves behind domineering fathers or brothers; others have organized themselves into their own gangs. Many of the Muslim girls have donned head scarves – more for protection than out of religious conviction.
What does the emergence of “tournantes” mean for today’s global society? Gang rape happens everywhere but its’ emergence in Paris can be seen as a symbolic because it is trying to reinfornce that women have a position in Parisian society and that their bodies do not count as much of that of men. That is when I realised scarily that many men here are aggressive because to a certain extent, women are seen as easily discarded and easily replaced. This of course is a sentiment shared in many patriarchal countries. What scared me in Paris was how obvious it was.