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Discrimination in France - statistics & facts

Discrimination has been a social issue for several decades and seems to intensify as the economy deteriorates. Periods of crisis are often marked by a surge in racist and xenophobic sentiments, and when questioned in March 2021, a good part of the French population felt that racism and religious discrimination were widespread phenomena.

The crisis as an eye-opener

A general increase in French approval of various anti-discrimination measures was observed in 2021. More than four out of five people were in favor of guaranteeing equal pay and pensions to all people doing the same job on French territory, regardless of their nationality. Many also supported strengthening legal sanctions in Europe against employers who discriminate on the basis of origin, nationality, skin color or religion, and favored anonymity for job applications reviewed by employers.
Moreover, the crisis seems to have reinforced the sensitivity of the French regarding gender equality issues. As Simone de Beauvoir said, “it only takes a political, economic or religious crisis for women's rights to be called into question”. Yet French people's level of satisfaction with this equality has dropped significantly since the period preceding the COVID-19 crisis. Many feel that the containment periods have led to a change in the wrong direction in terms of domestic violence or precariousness.

Individual factors and intersectionality

While discriminating factors, such as skin color, religion, social class, or age, are diverse, some individuals aggregate them. The term "mysoginoir", emerging in the 21st century, refers to a form of misogyny directed towards Black women, in which the roles of race and gender coincide. Another example is that of lesbians, who, as women and homosexuals, doubly transgress the social norm of heterosexuality. These factors may interact with others.
Moreover, while Black women and lesbians are subject to discriminatory treatment from society, ranging from insult to murder, they may also be discriminated against among their peers. Indeed, the experience of Black women in the anti-racist movement has not always been understood in its specificity, and the same is true of feminist struggles, as well as for lesbians within the LGBT+ community.

Education and representation

For many French people, the role played by education in fighting against discriminatory prejudices is crucial. Textbooks, for example, have a strategic place in constructing and disseminating social representations, and play a role in shaping people's opinions. Yet, one of the similarities between the different forms of discrimination is the lack of adequate representation, which is also noticeable in the media sphere. Women, LGBT, racialized, disabled, and other people are often absent from mainstream works, or portrayed in stereotypical ways, which convey prejudices, and means that they have few models to identify with.
Furthermore, as writer Andrew Solomon suggests, while vertical identities, such as religion or ethnicity, which are passed down through generations, allow parents to be role models, this is not necessarily the case for individuals with disabilities or LGBT people, whose identity is horizontal. Finding these models elsewhere is important, which seems to have been well understood by some media, such as Netflix, a platform on which more inclusive series, like Sex Education, have emerged.

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