A French government official’s attempt to ban a feminist book called ‘I Hate Men’ appears to have backfired after it sold out.
Sales of Pauline Harmange’s ‘Moi les hommes, je les déteste‘ skyrocketed after Ralph Zurmély, a special adviser to France’s ministry for gender equality, called it an ‘ode to misandry [a hatred of men].’
In an email, Zurmély told Monstrograph – the book’s publisher – that ‘incitement to hatred on the grounds of gender is a criminal offence’, and asked the publisher to pull the book from publication ‘on pain of criminal prosecution’.
The 25-year-old activist’s book argues that ‘anger towards men is actually a joyful and emancipatory path, if it is allowed to be expressed’, and explores whether women ‘have good reason to hate men’.
Monstrograph has denied that the book is an incitement of hatred, and called the book a ‘feminist and iconoclastic book’ that ‘defends misandry as a way of making room for sisterhood’.
Colline Pierre, one of the founders of the micro-publisher run by volunteers, said ‘The title is provocative but the language is measured. It is an invitation not to oblige oneself to frequent men or compromise with them.
‘At no time does the author incite violence,’ she added.
‘I hate men’, a book written by 25-year-old French activist Pauline Harmange (pictured for an interview with The Guardian), has drawn criticism from Ralph Zurmély, a special adviser to France’s ministry for gender equality, who called it an ‘ode to misandry [a hatred of men]’
The first 450 printed copies of the book flew off the shelves after Zurmély called for it to be banned. Since the first print run, a further 2,500 copies have been sold.
A larger, so far unnamed publisher, is now set to take the title on, according to The Guardian, and UK publishers are set to be considering translating it into English.
France’s ministry for gender equality distanced itself from Zurmély’s threat of criminal prosecution, saying it was a ‘personal initiative and completely independent of the ministry.’
The ministry’s comments came after Harmange received ridicule and threats on social media.
The special adviser told Mediapart that if Monstrograph continued to sell copies of the book, the small publisher would be ‘directly complicit in the offence and I would then be obliged to send it to the prosecution for legal proceedings’.
But the magazine NouvelObs pointed out that if the book were to be banned, a similar case could be made for books by male authors to be banned on the grounds of misogyny.
Harmange, an activist from Lille in northern France, said the book is an invitation to women to ‘imagine a new way of being, to take less account of the often unsupported opinions of men, to consider the adage “it is better to be alone than in bad company£ seriously, and to rediscover the strength of female relationships full of reciprocity, gentleness and strength’.
Following the adviser’s criticism, the book – titled ‘Moi les hommes, je les déteste’ in French – has flown off the shelves, with 450 first editions and a further 2,500 copies selling out
She also hit back at Zurmély’s response to her book, saying: ‘“A state official who has a power crisis facing an 80-page book released in 400 copies, I find that very problematic.’
In a blog, the activist wrote that her head was ‘spinning’ at the response she had recieved, writing: ‘As a gigantic snub to this man who wanted to ban my words, this book which should have been printed only at 500, maybe 700 copies max, has been ordered more than 2,000 times.
‘We have withdrawn the book from sale, not because we are afraid but because we can no longer keep pace [with demand]. (And not forever, I promise),’ she wrote.
Harmange describes herself as bi-sexual, and is married to a man. She said that her experience working with rape and sexual assault victims in France has made her distrust men she does not know, according to The Times.
She pointed to statistics that show nearly 40 women a day are victims of sexual violence in France – which has been rocked by the MeToo movement in recent years.
Meanwhile, she added, women who dislike men ‘neither kill nor injure anyone, nor prevent them from dressing the way they wish, from walking in the street at night, or from expressing themselves as they see fit.’