Dominique Strauss-Kahn Forces France to Re-Examine Attitudes on Sexual Harassment
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has forced the French to re-examine their attitudes towards sexuality in the wake of his attempted rape charges.
Sylvie Kauffmann, senior editor at French newspaper Le Monde, told Jacki Lyden of NPR in an interview that the Fnrech typically have a more tolerant of chauvinism and even sexual harassment.
"..in France, there is a high level of tolerance. I wouldn't say that sexual harassment is approved. Of course not. There are laws, you know, against it. But the fact is that the society as a whole tends to brush it aside. Women are fearful of coming forward with lawsuits or with complaints. And men generally tend to minimize it as, you know, something which is a part of life."
Kauffmann noted that after some male public figures in France had tried to downplay the seriousness of Strauss-Kahn's actions, there was a wave of shock and outrage amongst women that resulted in an increase in women coming forward and saying they've been harassed at work.
She noted that, despite a "kind of freedom in gender relationships which is quite pleasant," in France, there is room for some degree of improvement.
"…It is possible to make people more sensitive to these [gender and sexual] issues without falling into the puritanism…we perceive in America."