In the north of France, in the city of Lille to be specific, a young woman published a 96-page essay. The title is “moi les hommes, je les déteste” (I hate men).
A self-proclaimed feminist, her book opens with a quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar – “The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way.”
Enter Ralph Zurmély, a government ministerial adviser responsible for gender equality (and yet another meddling authoritarian figure), who didn’t like the title of Pauline’s book. So he wrote her a letter and threatened legal action if she didn’t stand down. Imagine Ms. Harmange’s reaction upon receiving such a letter from the French government! Again, I ask, where are we? In Saudi Arabia? What’s with the meddling and harassment? What happened to freedom of expression?
Once the incident went viral, just like the Musée d’Orsay affair did, it was revealed that Ralph Zurmély hadn’t even read the book. He just didn’t like the title. It offended him, just like Jeanne’s breasts had offended the ticket agent at the Musée d’Orsay. (read my previous blog post for those who haven’t)
Here’s an excerpt from his letter – “This book is obviously an ode to misandry (= hatred of men), both in terms of the summary on your site and in reading its title. I would like to remind you that incitement to hatred on the basis of sex is a criminal offence! Consequently, I ask you to immediately remove this book from your catalogue under penalty of criminal prosecution.”
But who’s the lawbreaker here?
Zurmély violated Article 19 of the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) which states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
When the story was picked up and diffused by Mediapart, the Gender Equality Ministry told Mediapart that Zurmély, who it appeared had read only the title and the publisher’s description of the small book, had acted on his own initiative. Mediapart is an independent French online investigative journal created by Edwy Plenel, former editor-in-chief of Le Monde.
The French magazine, NouvelObs, described Zurmély’s zeal as “cancel culture” par excellence and pointed out that nobody had sought to censor Baudelaire from writing of the 19th-century French novelist George Sand: “She is stupid, she is heavy, she is talkative […] The fact that a few men have fallen in love with this latrine is proof of the lowliness of the men of this century.”
“And why not ban Michel Houellebecq for his misogyny while we’re at it,” asked NouvelObs. Equivalent to TIME or Newsweek, NouvelObs, previously known as Le Nouvel Observateur, is a prominent French weekly news magazine.
“Misandry exists only as a reaction to misogyny, which is at the root of systemic violence,” Harmange said. The book cites statistics from 2018 showing that 96% of people convicted of domestic violence were men and 99% of those convicted of sexual violence were men. “Whereas misandry never killed anyone.”
Harmange, 25, lives with her husband, Mathieu, 29, and their cat. “It’s the first time I’ve had a book come out. I wrote a novel but it was never published.”
She expected her treatise to sell a couple of hundred copies, but now it’s a sellout and 2,500 copies have been sold.
some excerpts taken from The Guardian