Maybe France is on to something. It’s just convicted a man under a new law criminalizing lewd and insulting comments to women, the New York Times reports.
The law, which cracks down on catcalls and unwanted, sexually aggressive speech, cost the man about $350 and earned him a nine-month suspended jail sentence.
The man, who appeared to be drunk, got on a bus, told the woman she had big breasts and then called her a “whore.”
The woman complained to the bus driver who kept the doors closed until the cops could arrive, according to the Times.
At the time of the law’s consideration in the National Assembly, it was criticized for focusing on a relatively superficial problem, compared to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, which remain serious problems in France, within both public institutions and private companies.
But supporters say that if the law emboldens more women to complain when they are publicly harassed, and the authorities take those complaints seriously, it could begin to influence French culture, changing attitudes about what it is permissible to say or do to women.
“We live in a society that does not sufficiently punish sexist and sexual violence,” said Ms. Schiappa in an interview earlier this year with the broadcaster France Culture. “And we live in a media system of telling stories in a way that makes sexual and sexist violence banal, makes excuses for it and eroticizes it.”
On social media, France has a different version of a #MeToo hashtag. It’s called #ExposeYourPig.