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Jail time for French women who berate husbands

By Carey Roberts
web posted January 18, 2010

Record cold temperatures are beginning to take their toll on average citizens around the world. In bone-chilled France, frustrated housewives have taken to venting their spleens at their husbands -- and for good reason.

For decades, effete French men have indulged themselves with aerosol hair spray for their over-groomed hairpieces, contributing, as we all know, to the thinning of the ozone layer and melting of the polar ice caps.

Now the debonair men are taking the heat.

Thankfully, the epidemic of shrieking wives has not escaped the attention of the ever-vigilant French Parliament, which is now considering a ban on the practice. The law would apply to both married and cohabiting couples.

Support reaches to the highest political levels. Announcing the proposed law earlier this month, French premier Francois Fillon explained, "The creation of this offence will allow us to deal with the most insidious situations – situations that leave no visible scars, but which leave victims torn up inside."

Repeat perpetrators of "psychological violence" would be subject to electronic tagging, Fillon warned.

Under the new politeness regime, any use of power and control tactics will be subject to state intervention. Garden-variety nagging will be passé. Honey-do lists will be illégal. And women will think twice before inquiring about amorous liaisons, since false allegations of infidelity will also be barred.

Soon-to-be-illegal put-downs also include "Vous avez le cervau d'un sandwich au fromage" (You have the brain of a cheese sandwich) and "T'as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d'egouts" (You've got a face that would blow off manhole covers).

Many were delighted with the prospect of re-engineering the prickly French personality. The French gendarme, weary from tracking down elusive tax cheats and al-Qaeda operatives, was buoyed by the news. And middle-aged men mired in stale marriages now have a respectable way out.

The new proposal has its skeptics, of course.

Psychologist Anne Giraud worries that "Squabbling couples will allege all kinds of things about each other, but they won't necessarily be true." Psychiatrist Marie-France Hirigoyen is likewise "cautious" because the law could be easily misused.

Sociologist Piere Bonnet frets, "Next they will be making rudeness a crime, and the police and courts will be overrun with work." Many wonder how a procureur, lacking hard evidence of abuse, would prosecute an accused scofflaw.

And some recall when actress Brigitte Bardot was fined $6,000 for violating the French hate-crimes law when she made impolitic statements about the looming influence of radical Islam.

Thanks to the new law, millions of French women will end up spending time behind bars. But it will be for their own good. And once we put an end to the spate of psychological violence, we can move on to other pressing problems like raised eyebrows, annoying grimaces, and unsympathetic stares. ESR

Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.







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