Being the esteemed procrastinator that I am, I frequently spiral into the rabbit hole that is YouTube. While this custom typically leads to me obsessively watching every interview Amy Schumer has ever done until 4 AM, last night I actually came across something that moved me.
This 10 minute French film, “Oppressed Majority (Majorité Opprimée)”, tells the story of Pierre, a seemingly mundane man going through his daily routine on a typical day in an unnamed French town. However, in the world that the director Eléonore Pourriat creates, women are in charge. Essentially, traditional gender roles are turned upside down. Women run topless, pee in alleys, and yell sexually vulgar things to Pierre while he rides his bike around town. However, when Pierre is raped at knifepoint by a gang of women, the story takes a dark turn. The fundamental reason this film is so powerful is that the alternate universe Pourriat creates seems so absurd, yet it is really just a representation of our reality, only with men playing the role of women.
I personally had a visceral reaction to the film, particularly because I have been victim to many of the sexist behaviors depicted in the film. When Pierre is raped, his wife tells him he was asking for it because he is wearing short Bermuda shorts and a low cut shirt. It sounds farcical to associate men’s clothing with sexuality, but for women it is a daily concern. I am constantly hyperaware of how I dress so as not to look too provocative that I will be objectified, but also not too conservative that I look unattractive. This awareness is so entrenched in my identity as a woman that I don’t even step back and wonder why I am scrutinizing my appearance through the male gaze.
What do you think of the film? Does it accurately depict sexism in our society? Is it too focused on gender as binary? If you are male, did it make you understand women in a way you hadn’t before?