- Thirteen teenagers aged 13 to 19 debated and exchanged views on girl-boy relationships during a workshop organized at the start of the week by the Youth Space of the 17th arrondissement of Paris in collaboration with the association En avant tous!
- For two hours, the girls witnessed the ambient sexism that is expressed daily in the courtyard of middle and high schools.
- A sexism that is also perpetuated online through certain digital practices.
On this Monday of school holidays, teenagers arrive in droplets at the Espace jeunes in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. Sneakers on the feet, a first group of girls sits on the plastic chairs arranged in a circle in one of the rooms of the municipal establishment, managed by the Léo Lagrange federation. Others, coming from the Maurice Nogues social center in the 14th arrondissement, crossed Paris to participate in this “debate on sexism”. For two hours, the 13 adolescents aged 13 to 19 will be able to dissect girl-boy relationships.
“We are there for everyone to listen to you and, above all, not to judge anything”, details in the preamble Ynaée, 31 years old, moderator of this session and founder of association All forward!, which has been promoting equality between women and men since 2013. Separated into single-sex groups and then reunited again, the adolescents will put their words, sometimes modest or raw, on the conflicts which animate them, love, friendship, discrimination or even revenge porn.
Two opposing realities
In both groups, exercise is comparable. “What do you think of your relationship with boys?” », Asks Safiatou, prevention officer for All forward!. Reserved at first, the girls are gradually opening up to their daily life as secondary school students, marked by an omnipresent sexism. “A few weeks ago, in my class, there were people who spoke about this subject and one of the boys said:” Yeah but the women have to do the housework “, I found that not good, especially that some really think so, ”says Léa *, annoyed.
Stereotypes that are expressed even in the homes of some teenage girls. “Parents, for example, they let my little brother go out when he wants and we girls are not allowed”, regrets Maryam. The same also reports the “criticisms” of boys on clothing: “In summer, when there are girls who put on skirts or shorts, they insult”. “They call them whores or tease”, adds Léa.
“Parents, for example, they let my little brother go out when he wants and we girls are not allowed! “
While not all of them have experienced it, the older ones laugh yellow at the mention of street harassment. Asked about this by Safiatou, Nora explains: “When we took the tram to come here, there were three boys talking to each other in Arabic – except that I understand. They were talking about me, about my physique. When I understood I put my jacket around my waist […], but they haven’t stopped. “A phenomenon that boys sometimes refuse to see, notes Julie:” Basically, as they are the “dominant”, for them, their reality is that of all. While we, our reality is completely different. They fail to integrate that we can talk about harassment. “
The weight of rumor
After this first period of discussion, the group meets for a second sequence. Like them, the boys formulated a series of questions aimed at teenage girls. “Do you find it normal for the boy to take the first step?” “,” Do you find it normal that women have longer maternity leave than men? “,” Why does custody of the children fall to the mother? “,” Do you think there can be a girl-boy friendship without a second thought? “.
The debate then begins on this last subject. Naël, talkative and funny teenager, explains: “We arrived at this last question because we said to ourselves that when a boy is friends with a girl, it is not between them that there were arguments, but people outside, who were going to say: “If he is friends with her, it is because he is necessarily in love with her, etc.” “
The examples in this direction fuse, and all point to the weight of “the rumor” of a sexuality “hidden” behind these girl-boy friendships. “What could there be rumors and are they different for girls or boys?” », Asks Ynaée. Nathan, from the outset, assures us: “There are those who can say that she is an easy girl”. An “insult” which finds this masculine equivalent: “A boy, we will say that it is a” charo “”, abbreviation of “scavenger”, translates Naël. Here again, adolescents note a difference in treatment between the sexes: “When a boy is charo, his friends will encourage him, tell him it’s good. While an easy girl, we will tell her: “But aren’t you ashamed?” “. Nora adds: “For us it’s a defect, but for them it’s a quality defect. It’s not quite a quality, but they can brag about it. “
And this rumor can sometimes be amplified by the uses of adolescents on social networks. “There can be photos, screenshots (screenshots) or sextapes”, illustrates Léa. Anxious to alert without “judging” the digital practices of young people, Ynaée recalls: “Generally, a sextape is something that you do voluntarily in your relationship and it is intimate, to keep it to yourself. “The fear of the dissemination of intimate images” for revenge “is, again, raised by a majority of girls.
However, in the event of the publication of intimate images, it is the responsibility of adolescent girls that is called into question: “Anything we do can have consequences. If you assume that you’re afraid of anything, you don’t care but when you think about it, that you tell yourself that someone can take captures, you have to be careful, everyone is free to do what they want but you have to assume, ”says Léa. If the boys recognize the existence of this practice, none glorifies it and many openly condemn it, like Nathan: “It is a question of values and of confidence! If someone tells me or confides in me something intimate, I will not go and repeat it to others ”. Ynaée takes the opportunity to remind the group that this practice, revenge-porn, is punished by law. Lea, she, resigned: “We grows up thinking “I hope this won’t happen to me”. “
* All adolescent names have been changed
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