Macholand: France's online revolt against sexism
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A French website launched on Tuesday enables visitors to lobby politicians or companies responsible for sexist adverts or statements in just a few clicks – and with a touch of humour.
Macholand.fr initially crashed due to the volume of traffic when it opened at 2pm, a clear indication of the strength of feeling on the issue in France.
“We want to crank up the level of intolerance against sexism,” Macholand.fr’s editor Clara Gonzales told FRANCE 24. The 23-year-old student is one of three volunteers behind the site, along with prominent feminist campaigner Caroline de Haas and web designer and Green Party activist Elliot Lepers.
The website features seven initial campaigns targeting a combination of businesses, elected officials and administrative bodies.
In a few clicks, visitors are invited to email the French government’s official guidelines on the use of female titles to the 142 MPs who opposed the use of the term “présidente” (with the feminine "e" at the end of the word) when addressing the speaker of the National Assembly last week.
Mocking clichés about women
In another example, Macholand.fr notes with an eye-roll that participants in a recent women’s marathon in Paris received free detergent given by the event’s sponsors. The website directs users to suggest other clichés products to sponsor next year’s race, such as “anti-age washing up liquid”.
Clara Gonzales said she and Lepers were partly inspired by the online activism observed in English-speaking countries. She cited successful petitions against the excessive digital airbrushing of photos in women’s magazines in the US, as well as the British-based website everydaysexism.com, which collects stories of ordinary male chauvinism from the public.
“We want to offer different types of action, on an industrial scale,” Gonzales said. “In some cases, this could support a complaint before the advertising standards authority.”
Macholand.fr is now looking for more volunteers to help monitor French public discourse to identify new targets and launch versions of the website in other countries.