When women were men (a film)

Why Majorité Opprimée is a film work seeing


French filmmaker Éléonore Pourriat’s short movie about a society dominated by women, Majorité Opprimée (Oppressed Majority), was created four years ago but has gone viral in the week since she uploaded it to YouTube, attracting more than five million views. The attention is deserved. This is an extraordinarily powerful piece of art.

The plot’s premise is simple. It depicts a young father, Pierre, during a normal day in an unidentified French town. What becomes apparent as the film develops is that traditional gender roles have been completely upended. As Pierre collects the mail while pushing his young son in a stroller, a woman neighbour begins to discuss building issues with him, but then stops herself and says she should probably talk to his wife. Female joggers are topless and just a little too friendly. A vagrant shouts sexual insults.

When Pierre drops his son off to be looked after by Nissar, the man is wearing a hijab. It’s new. His wife wanted him to wear it, he admits. Pierre, after checking to be sure Nissar’s wife is out, tries to engage him in a discussion about the hijab.

“Don’t you feel more and more trapped?” he asks. “First you shaved off your whiskers and beard. But you’re a man. I mean we are men. You don’t belong to anyone. It’s important that I tell you that.”

Nissar, looking sheepish and uncomfortable, says it’s the law (meaning a religious edict), and that God is protecting him.

Pierre leaves Nissar, and the film gets violent and darker. A gang of teenage girls sexually assaults him. The police officer investigating the case, a woman, is skeptical and dismissive, more interested in the young man who brings her coffee. When Pierre’s wife, Marion, finally shows up (she had a meeting), she calls him “Pumpkin” and notes, with some disgust, that his cut and bruised face “looks like hell.” She brags about her day at work. Pierre says he is proud of her.

When Pierre breaks down, Marion scolds him. Look at the way you’re dressed, she says: short-sleeved shirt, flip-flops, knee-high shorts. She gets angry when he protests and leaves him to get the car. Listening to him complain, she says, is exhausting and she needs to calm down.

That a film about the oppression and discrimination that women face every day only gets noticed because the victim is a man underlines the point Pourriat is trying to make. If this were a film about a woman named Yvette, I wouldn’t be writing about it. But then such a film would be redundant anyway. We’d just have to look outside.

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When women were men (a film)

  1. I saw it a couple of days ago, and sent it out on the rounds….it summed up what it is to be female in a male society in ten minutes.

    Youtube now wants you to be over 18 to see it….which adds another level of meaning.

    • Is it like that in Ontario right now, on the streets? The fruitage of a decade or more of squishy Liberal governance.

      • It happens everywhere Derek.

  2. That no longer applies in Canada…..ask the Human rights commission.
    You don’t have to be oppressed…..just say you have decided to switch genders.
    Problem solved.

    • Except women don’t want to be men, they want to be equal.

      • So you agree there are innate biological differences between the genders that extend far beyond “plumbing” then? You usually argue the opposite, and quite forcefully.

        • No, there are no differences beyond the plumbing.

          Equality doesn’t require ‘surgery’.

          • The plumbing is different….the physical strength is different……..there are many other differences as well.
            Emily, if you think the only difference between men and women is the “plumbing” then I would suggest you take up the Lumberjack trade and see how long you last.

          • Which man, which woman? Strong shoulders or strong hips?

            I suggest you try a pregnancy and birth and see how long you last.

            And none of this involves superiority. It’s just plumbing.

      • Women and men are equal Emily, and have the same rights.
        Today’s “feminists” aren’t looking for equal treatment, they are looking for preferential treatment.
        You can’t have it both ways.
        (caveat: This does not apply of course to communities with religious affiliation to faiths which treat women like property)

        • Men and women are equal on paper….when women are the majority in parliament, the courts, the police, the wealthy, the scientists…then you’ll understand what this film says.

          • Equal opportunity is available, men and women choose different occupations that reflect their lifestyle expectations. Time to realize that women’s studies isn’t a qualification for anything important.

          • Time to wonder why you have such a thing about women’s studies.

  3. What a movie! I’m sorry but Canada is nowhere near that unfriendly to women. However, this movie did fall into the old feminist line that “all men are evil”. Reminds me of the story of the feminist who saw the opening scene of the movie “Saving Private Ryan”. After looking at the Omaha Beach scene of hundreds of young American “evil” men lying dead, she stated “Good, less potential rapists in the world.” I have an idea execute the rapists! Not too many of these guys are going to do this if the punishment is their neck being snapped by a hangman’s noose. However, I doubt that EmilyOne will sign off on this. She likes to play the good feminist but its outweighed by her soft on crime approach. A true feminist would support the toughest penalty possible for someone who committed a violent crime against a woman.

    • according to Emilyone, American soldiers were all rapists. she’ll give a nice guardian link right away that “proves” it.

      • Google screenshot, anyone?

    • On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.

      • That’s very sexist of you to neglect to mention that every eighteen days a man in Canada is killed by his intimate partner and that general murder rates are almost ten times higher.

        • Very few men are ever killed by their spouses, sorry.

      • So, like I said hang the 61 guys a year that do it! I’m consistent! A man who rapes or murders a woman should be executed. A woman who violates a man sexually or murders a man deserves the same. I just wish the criminal justice system was the same. I found out that in the U.S. women commit about 15% of the murders but make up less than .5% of the executed. A U.S. district attorney was pointing to some study(anyone know about this one) that said a jury was more willing to impse the death sentence when the convicted was male.

  4. I have a question. I was watching the movie “Titanic” the other night. When they ordered women and children into the lifeboats first was that sexist? Due to this policy, I found out that around 75% of the adult women and 52% of the children lived. The percentage of adult men who lived was only 22%. However,if we follow the rules of equality to the letter, I would think that the number of men and women in the boats should be the exact same. In other words, in such a situation, wouldn’t the appropriate thing be for a feminist to sit in the lifeboat only after the crew had ensured that there was an equal number of males and females. In such scenario, the guys in the ship’s band would have been entitled to demand an equal chance in the lifeboat rather than playing until the waves dragged them under.

    • Contrary to popular belief the Captain had to order the men away from the boats so women and children could board them

      And instead of putting any men in the boats, many were all women…..who couldn’t row boats at the time, and whose heavy gowns dragged them down in the water.

      • Yes, but the point is that many of the men followed this order and died. I don’t remember too many women(including the Unsinkable Molly Brown) saying that such an order from the Captain was wrong. Did their heavy gowns work against them? Yes, but it doesn’t change the point. If you were a woman on the Titanic, you probably lived. If you were a guy, you probably were going to die. The only question for most of the guys was how you were going to die. Freeze to death in the water, drown inside the ship, kill yourself in as painless a fashion as possible,or drink until you passed out and hope that you woke up in the hereafter.

        • Well….they couldn’t save everybody….there weren’t enough lifeboats. So in the dark and the cold and the panic, they did the best they could

          Both men and women died….don’t make some monumental ‘statement’ out of a tragic event.