PARIS – On a recent light night, a group of four young women wandered into a peaceful neighborhood in eastern Paris, equipped with a bucket, a paintbrush and backpacks loaded with posters.
They were looking for surfaces with superficial messages.
“There, it’s not bad, is it?” Astrid Tenon said to be wearing all black, as she pointed to a 20-foot-tall wall, just east of Marais. Her partner in arms, Chloe Madsta, nodded, holding a bucket.
A well-choreographed operation began immediately: first, one woman brushed some glue on the wall, then another woman glued page after page, while the third cut each piece with another layer of glue. Tapped with
Less than seven minutes later, Wall bored the words: “You said you loved me, but it was still rape.”
For nearly a year, posters condemning sexual abuse and feminism – killing women because of their gender – have popped up in Paris by hundreds, despite the fact that postings on public walls are considered vandalism and that Is invalid.
The poster is the work of feminist activists, critical to the French government’s response to the growing problem of domestic violence, has taken to the streets with a massive poster campaign aimed at awareness of violent crimes committed by women against them To increase. Or former partners.
“Our goal is to bring these facts to the eye, so that no one can look away,” Ms Masta said. “Because this violence is always in shock.”
The shouting slogans read “Dad killed mom” or “He left her, he killed her” is affixed to the sandstone façade in the center of the city. On a canal bridge in northern Paris, a “silence is not agreed” statement stands. Long messages of the death of women at the hands of their partners have spread along the tunnels on the outskirts of the city.
Posters have gradually become a part of the capital’s landscape, so common that many Parisians have run past at least many of them.
Women want the message to “break into daily, normal life”, Ms. Madsta said. “This is where this violence takes place.”
The messages have also become an unexpected battleground on those roads. Posters are regularly torn with paint or splattered by passers-by, but activists fix the damage by restoring words.
The posters draw much of their strength from a bold graphic recognition of black, large letters painted on black, white sheets of paper: simple, quiet and instantly shapable.
“With this style, we are looking for the raw side of the message, literaryism,” Ms Masta said. “There is no metaphor in what we write, no poetry.”
The posting technique is simple and inexpensive, helping to explain that messages have sprung up everywhere, so quickly.
The campaign is the work of a new feminist group, “Les Collis,” or “Gluers”, started by Marguerite Stern, who, in the summer of 2019, placed a call on the social network. Dozens of women responded. Now some 1,500 activists have joined the posting operation.
“I think it has something to do with Paris,” Ms. Stern said of the strong response to her initial call. “It’s a city with a lot of young women, students, a large active network.”
Activists say the walls not only enable them to publicly expose domestic violence, a reality that is often accused in the private sector, but also place them in a street – the street – where many women feel insecure , Allow to retrieve.
But the operations themselves are not without risk.
As Ms. Tenon was pasting her third poster of the night, together with Anne-Elizabeth Ropartez, she heard what sounded like a police siren.
“Oh no!” Ms. Ropartz, 24, stands on tiptoes to paste a half-completed poster. It was revealed that the siren had arrived from an ambulance that was in the rear of the group.
“The situation is increasingly tense,” said Ms. Tennon, 26, a drama coach who said she has experienced years of harassment by men on the street.
Although the officers first turned a blind eye, they have begun to crack, with more activists recently closed by police. The maximum penalty for vandalism can reach $ 4,500.
Some pedestrians have verbally confronted the activists.
“It causes a strong burning sensation, but it’s actually pretty cool about it,” said Ms. Madesta, 27, whose clothes were stained with glue. “It means that our fight and our determination are starting to move things forward.”
In the neighborhood of East Paris, where some feminists had gathered on a recent night, the group found a place for their work on a faded gray wall.
One man shouted “Police! Police! “On seeing the women put up posters. But other local residents bowed down from the windows of their apartments and expressed support.
Khalid Bakri, a 42-year-old wholesaler sitting carelessly on a bench near the wall, was unsure of the effectiveness of the women’s fight.
“It can change things, because it can’t change anything,” said Mr Bakri.
Last year, 146 women in France were killed by their current or former partners, an increase of 21 percent from 2018, according to government figures. In November, the government introduced new measures to tackle the problem, such as more education and more social workers police stations. Activists say efforts do not go very far and are less.
Street-level activism by women has a long history in Paris, and the girls are part of the French tradition of “feminists who, in the daily lives of people, sometimes, challenge these illegal actions, the order established through these disruptions” Are, ”said Bibor Powered, a scholar specializing in the history of feminism.
The poster has a long history here. In the late 19th century, their widespread use for ideas sharing and advertising began in Paris. But today posters can extend their messages far beyond the wall where they are placed.
Pictures of the posters have been posted on Gluers’ Instagram account, which has around 70,000 followers, essentially giving messages a second life that might not last long on the streets.
Thanks to social networks, the posting movement has spread to many other French cities and to Belgium and Italy.
Ms Masta said that she feared the streets until she started using them as a platform for activism. In late 2019, she pasted her story as the daughter of a drunken father who beat her and her mother.
Giving a message pointing to domestic violence, “there is a mechanism that is so empowering and it allows you to change your relationship with the world, with others, along the road,” Ms Madesta said.
Ms. Tennon agreed. “It’s silly,” he said, “but at the moment we have our bucket, our glue and our paintbrush, we feel invincible.”