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Excuse My French: Part 5

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What a fortnight.

After the most refreshing yet heartbreakingly nostalgic trip back to London, I returned to Avignon to celebrate Halloween Erasmus style. That is to say, we all got drunk with our old friend the €2 bottle of wine in a cold dark basement.

More exams followed this week, and I have the joy of collecting my results too, so the return was bittersweet to say the least. We’ve all already failed at least one exam, so, naturally, we aren’t feeling too wonderful about university right now.

But all this is nothing compared to the HORROR of this weekend. One day I would love to give you some good news about French men, but sadly, I’m not sure such a thing exists. In the five minutes it takes to walk from the student halls to the (only) club in the city centre, we were harassed to the point that I would genuinely have called the police back in England.

The first hurdle was the man who started chatting to and following two of the girls in the group. He then proceeded to undo his trouser button and zip, continuing to talk at us, and then pushing his crotch all over the poor girls next to us. We tried to run ahead to safety, hardly aware that we were the next victims.

Out of nowhere, a Frenchman comes running at me, in what can only be described as a demented rugby tackle. In a fit of protective rage, my friend went to hit him and push him away. This was a bad idea. He flipped, and started yelling that he was going to hit us back even harder, that he was going to kill us. We ran down the street towards the club, the man and his friend chasing us close behind, until we reached the queue at the club and they disappeared.

And this isn’t a one off – as I’ve written about before, France is excruciatingly backwards in so many ways, but most prominently in the feminism department. French men, and more infuriatingly women, adhere to the school of thought that the female sex should be seen and ogled, and it’s easier for everyone if they aren’t heard. If you try to hit a man that attacks you in the street, he will probably threaten to kill you. BRILLIANT. The choice seems to be a feminist attitude resulting in being beaten up, or it’s a case of staying silent, letting men shout and leer, but consequently staying alive.

So, what I take from this fortnight, and my time here in general, is that the south of France is no place for feminism. Or sexual equality of any sort whatsoever. C’est dommage.

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