MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
The war of the sexes may be as old as humanity itself, but French women now have a 21st century weapon - Macholand.fr, allows them to target companies and individuals they consider sexist through social media campaigns. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has more.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Thirty-four-year-old Caroline De Haas has had enough.
CAROLINE DE HAAS: It's a website to mobilize people against sexism, the sexism in the media, the sexism in advertising or the sexism in politics.
BEARDSLEY: She launched Macholand.fr this week. The site allows subscribers to take collective action against sexist ads or behavior by launching e-mail, Facebook or Twitter campaigns against it. For example, take what the mayor of Lyon, France's second-largest city, said about the country's education minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.
DE HAAS: This guy says Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of National Education was minister because the president like beautiful women, so it's just incredible that in the 21st century politics people could say that without any reaction in the political class. Nobody said nothing.
BEARDSLEY: Now thanks to Macholand, irate citizens can denounce such behavior.
DE HAAS: You can send a tweet to this guy, to tell him what he say about the Minister of National Education is totally sexist and he should shut up the next time he has an idea like this.
BEARDSLEY: French feminists say France's Latin culture has a Machismo factor that often allows powerful men to get away with bad behavior toward women and no one seems to flinch at the number of naked women in advertisements. At a popular gym in Paris's 15th arrondissement, 34-year-old Emilie Bresson is heading back to the office after a workout. She says French women are behind some of their European neighbors.
EMILIE BRESSON: No, I think we don't have the same rights as for example Scandinavian woman. I think they are more progressive on these points.
BEARDSLEY: Bresson says French women will have to keep up the struggle, but she says it's better to fight at work than on such a website. Back at her office De Hass remembers what gave her the idea for Macholand. After contacting a company about a degrading advertisement they wrote her back saying they were sorry she found it sexist.
DE HAAS: I said, oh, my God, they think that it's my opinion. They think that, OK, sexism does not exist is just an opinion. It's not an opinion. It's a fact. It's very dangerous.
BEARDSLEY: De Haas says many women became outraged after she tweeted their response. That's when she realized it was pointless to act alone.
DE HAAS: But if 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 people react in the same time to say the same thing.
BEARDSLEY: Then says De Haas a company can no longer call it an opinion, they have to recognize they have a problem. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.