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27/11/2017
Going further than speaking up

Sometimes it only takes one courageous deed, one act to change the world. Following the first revelation about the sexual assaults in Hollywood, more and more voices spoke up everywhere uncovering the truth about violence and harassment against women. This should be commended! These voices have the strength to change mentalities in a profound way.

How could we not be happy that people are now speaking more freely about an issue that has always been at the heart of the Kering Foundation's commitment to combat violence against women since its foundation in 2008?

Some are scared of the widespread "denunciation" that now appear on social media hashtags concerning these revelations. This emotion shows the road that remains to be traveled to take the exact measure of this injustice coupled with an insult to women. Is it not clear? An assaulted woman who names her attacker cannot be affixed with a scarlet letter. The reality of the situation, until today, is that the inappropriate way in which women are so often treated when they decide to make a complaint makes them believe, more often than not, that they have more to lose than to win.

So, yes, we must salute all those who have taken the risk of breaking the silence on this subject and who continue and will continue to do so.

However, we must go much further than that. First, of course, by supporting the associations that listen, welcome, support and comfort the victims. This is an absolute necessity. Then, by facilitating the steps that need to be taken by the victims.

In order to denounce their aggressor, they most often have to go through hours of interrogation where they are asked the most intimate of questions, just to “build a case”.

That is why I don't agree with those who suggest or whisper that this freeing of speech is a revenge, or even a derivative of the feminist struggle. Let's be serious! This subject is not only a "women's issue", rather it concerns half of humanity and therefore, it concerns us all! This violence, this outrage inflicted on women is also an issue that concerns men who cannot, should not, remain mere bystanders to what is happening today. This is why men must also speak up so that they clearly recognize the inanity, the absurdity of the behavioral patterns that they have inherited.

This fight for the equality of the human condition cannot be won without the involvement of men. It is in this context that the Kering #ICouldHaveBeen Foundation campaign is campaigning to end violence against women. Under this hashtag and through the digital campaign designed for this occasion, it is "simply" to invite men to publish their photo with a female name in order to imagine what their life would be like if they were born a woman. Social network users then discover the appalling statistics on the violence they may have suffered during their lifetime (one in three women has been or will be the victim of violence during her life).

This initiative refers in part to the work of a great anthropologist, Françoise Héritier who has just passed away, and whose major contribution to contemporary thinking has been praised by everyone. She said, with common sense, "We are not living a war between the sexes, but rather both sexes are victims of a system of representation which is thousands of years old." There can be no doubt that it is not up to women alone to transform these representations and the injunctions they undergo. This work must be conducted on an equal basis. It is time for men to open their eyes and to speak up so that they may attack a vision of the world that, far from making them grow, makes them smaller. So again we must make an effort to, as Françoise Héritier suggested, no longer think of the relationship between the sexes in terms of superiority and inferiority, but in terms of "desire and love".

- François-Henri Pinault,
Chairman and CEO of Kering, Chairman of the Kering Foundation