Oh, France.

I leave you alone for five minutes, and this is what you get up to? This is ridiculous.

A brief recap for those who haven’t followed the current disastrous state of French political life: France passed a law on marriage equality last year. It was a great idea and the majority of the country was pleased. This year, however, another law was supposed to be examined, to extend equality to everyone in other domains of family life. And the far right got up in arms. Apparently they were encouraged by the recent laws restricting access to abortion in Spain, and so they’ve decided to rally against, well, pretty much every bit of social progress that happened ever since we legalised contraception. You know, gender equality, marriage equality, legal abortions, that sort of thing.

If those movements have succeeded in demonstrating one thing, it’s that there’s absolutely no limit to the histrionics a group composed of neo-fascists, religious extremists and nationalists can cook up when you leave them alone together. They’ve declared ‘gender’ an offensive term. Apparently, there’s supposed to be something called a ‘theory of gender’ that essentially amounts to negating biological differences between men and women (sacrilege!), allowing homosexuals to… er… exist, I suppose, and turning us all into giant snails. That’s not even a joke. They’ve also decided that they would settle for nothing less than collective paranoia if they could have it, so they’ve launched into an absolutely shameful campaign of misinformation and propaganda, that would be laughable if there weren’t actually people around the country who haven’t been taking a huge interest in the whole affair and have started to believe in parts of it. ‘Misinformation’ here refers to the part where they sent texts to parents telling them that starting next September, their children would be taught how to masturbate in kindergarten, using plush toys shaped like penises and vaginas to demonstrate how sex works. The reason why it’s so sad is that some parents did withdraw their children from school for a whole day in protest. That’s terrible, but there it is: for many people, the idea that teaching children about harmful gender stereotypes amounts to showing themplush toy porn in kindergarten has some plausibility.

But that’s still not the saddest thing about it. You know what is? The French government caved in. The law is postponed until further notice.

Well, that’s all there is to say, really. We’ve gone far past the point where arguments can be of any use, and I’m in Québec anyway, so there’s not much I can do except talk about it with civilised people and collectively agree that this is too crazy for words. I suppose the reason while I’m writing this here (aside from needing to vent, of course) is that we’ll never have too many reminders of the fact that it’s actually possible for a society to go back on social progress. Spain did it. France is close to doing it. Bloody liberal, supposedly tolerant-in-matters-of-morality France.

I don’t want to sound overly pessimistic, but it’s still good to remember that bigots can do some damage when they’re up to it. Next time you go to France, anyway, do me a favour and remind people that there’s no such thing as a conspiracy from the ‘theory of gender’ side. And that open-mindedness has never, ever turned anyone into a giant snail.

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