France is seeking to ban dressing sexy in public, because apparently policing women’s bodies is easier than checking male privilege.
According to the Criminal Law of France, prostitution is legal, but there are laws against soliciting in public places. “Passive Solicitation” is the name of the new crime, according to the Mirror, and while no parameters have been set as to what kinds of clothing break the law, it is clear that the continued policing of women’s bodies has feminist groups in France enraged.
The Daily Dot spoke with Fatima Benomar from Les efFRONTé-e-s who said, “Our association has reacted very angrily to the introduction of passive soliciting, and denounced it. Prostitution is a phenomenon that affects all women. We are all worried, insulted, harassed when we wear skirts, with the famous insult ‘slut.’”
This kind of body policing is an interesting contrast to the burqa bans that France put into place last year. In both instances, the government has taken a huge stance to enforce what is and isn’t appropriate for a woman to wear publicly.
Laws like these also put no blame on the men involved in sexualizing and harassing women who are dressed "suggestively." They also force legal sex workers into the seedy underground where they are not offered the protection they deserved under the law.
A member of France’s sex worker union (Strass) spoke to the Daily Dot saying that, “In practice, we have no right to advertise, to solicit clients, to rent a place where we can accommodate clients, we can't work in groups and associate with other sex workers for our protection, and any person who works with us or helps us to work becomes a pimp. We call that hypocrisy since we pay taxes but everything is made impossible to work in good conditions.”
Even anti-prostitution activist, Grégoire Thery denounced the decision to place full blame on sex workers, telling France24 he blamed the “macho Senate” for voting against criminalizing clients.
France is a now a focal point in the fight against gender discrimination, and will hopefully remind other nations that women should be able to wear whatever they choose, be it a bikini or a burqa, without legal repercussions.
Image c/o ReutersPrincess Weekes is a part-time bookseller and a full-time writer with a Master’s in English from Brooklyn College. A former intern at BUST magazine, she has since written articles for The Mary Sue, BUST and maintains her own video channel under the name Melina Pendulum, discussing the intersection of pop culture, feminism and race. She is currently working on a fantasy novel about black witches during the Jim Crow era, while attempting to purchase every liquid lipstick the world has to offer.