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French women flood Twitter to name and shame sexual harassers

Geoffrey Van Der Hasselt, AFP | A protester holds up a placard reading 'Women's rights are human rights' during a rally in Paris, on July 13, 2017, to demonstrate against the visit of US President Donald Trump.

The hashtag #balancetonporc, or "squeal on your pig", on Sunday rapidly became a way for thousands of French women to share stories of sexual harassment at work.

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Friday the 13th boded ill for the patriarchy: that afternoon, Sandra Muller, a French journalist riding the post-Harvey Weinstein wave of pent-up frustration, launched a Twitter call for women to “#balancetonporc,” or “squeal on your pig”, by posting the names of men who had sexually harassed them at work and details of their behaviours.

She began with her own story, naming her former boss who had once told her, “You have big breasts. You’re my type of woman. I’m going to make you come all night long.”

As of Sunday, the hashtag remains the number one trending hashtag in France – and number three worldwide – as thousands of women join in.

Stories from journalists and others who work in the media were among some of the most frequently posted.

Giulia Fois, a radio journalist, recounted a disturbing encounter in a widely re-shared tweet: “An editor-in-chief, major radio station, small hallway, grabbing me by the throat, ‘one day I’m going to have sex with you, whether you want it or not.'” She added that at the time she had filed a complaint and had been “neither believed nor heard”.

A journalist for the TV station BFM wrote that when she was a young intern at another company, “a producer told me while staring at my butt, ‘walk in front of me so that I can see you. It works well with your heels.’”

Another journalist, Anne-Claire Huet, wrote: “23 years old. Short term contract. An editor-in-chief calmly put his hand on my thigh while in a car leaving for a reporting trip.”

Though far less frequent, tweets from men often recounted their observations of harassment of colleagues. Matthieu Bidan, a video journalist wrote that during an internship at a “major TV channel”, he overheard a permanent employee say of a fellow intern that “she would merit a screw in the corner”.

Universities and even high schools also figured prominently among the #balancetonporc stories.

“This university professor who offered tutoring sessions in exchange for nude pictures. Complained. Never investigated,” wrote a woman from Lyon.

“The phys-ed teacher who put his hands on my butt to correct my posture in gym class.”

A writer for Adweek posted that a former boss once told her, “you have a lot of promise, you succeed at what you do” and then “he took my hand and placed it on his erect penis”.

The humanitarian sector has also come under fire. Manon Aubry, senior advocacy officer at Oxfam France and lecturer at France's Sciences Po university, wrote: “#Balancetonporc in the nonprofit world as well. A Chief of Mission for an NGO on the ground made advances towards women on the team, and used his role as manager to make life impossible for the ones who refused.”

According to a 2014 French government study, 20 percent of women in France will experience sexual harassment at work during their lifetimes, and 30 percent of those women will never say anything.

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