France Considers New Laws Outlawing Sexual Harassment

If you think it’s only Twitter that’s gotten caught up in the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal, think again.

In the midst of this week’s intense social media storm, the French public has received a call to #balancetonporc, or “squeal on your pig.” But this aggressive rally to call out men guilty of sexual harassment has gotten the French public up in arms, and they plan on doing a lot more than tweeting.

Led by France’s Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, the French government is considering a new law that would outlaw sexual harassment in the public space. Among many other things, this bill could potentially include a clause making catcalling illegal, and allowing police officers to hand out on the spot fines to perpetrators. “We can’t consider that it’s inevitable that women are followed or harassed in the street,” Schiappa said in an interview with France 24. It’s would seem like common sense to think that women wouldn’t want that, yet it often is considered inevitable that “men will be men” and other dull platitudes excusing harassment. France is a particularly interesting case because the culture has a reputation for being romantic and chauvinistic, presenting an easy excuse for behavior that is actually harassment.

Critics say that sexual harassment is too subjective of a topic to be properly legislated, because the line between flirting and harassment can shift depending on the individual. Regardless, something must be done about the situation, and it looks like France is on the right track to figuring out what that something is.