Our 2013 article “Pornography: Getting It Up and Putting Her Down” explored the tension between Americans’ constitutional right to freedom of expression and the shock and fear many women feel about the widespread depiction — in movies, the Internet, and rap — of violence against, and subjugation of, women. A landmark ruling in a French court has come down on the side of freedom of expression, The New York Times’s Women in the World website reports—allowing rapper Orelsan to continue singing lyrics like “Do your research on bandages and strollers, I can make you a baby and break your nose with a head butt”; “I will leave you as soon as I find a dog with a better pedigree”; and “I respect les schnecks (chicks) with an IQ deficit, who will take it until they end up physically handicapped.”

RELATED: Sexual Assault, Intimidation, and the Fear of Being Rude

In 2009, five feminist groups successfully sued Orelsan for “inciting violence against women.” (One of his lyrics, according to the article, is “Shut your trap or you’re going to find yourself Marie Trintignanted . . . in a reference to the actress who died after being brutally struck by her rock-legend boyfriend Bertrand Cantat.”) However, that decision was overturned in 2014, and, the Times report notes, “after a third trial, a Versailles appeals court acquitted Cantat.”

The report continues: “‘Labeling this (the lyrics) as libel based on sex, or incitement to violence, hatred and discrimination towards women would be censoring all artistic creation of a generation inspired by a sense of ill-being, disillusionment and a feeling of abandonment and would constitute an attack on freedom of expression,’ wrote the appeal court, led by Judge Olivier Leurent.”

READ MORE: Women in the World website.



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