Summary: "Oppressed Majority" is a short film from Eleonore Pourriat, and it contemplates what the world would be like if men and women swapped statuses. The film's protagonist starts his day by checking the mail and politely listening to his neighbor complain about the dilapidated condition of their building. She concludes, "But I should really be talking to your wife." With this alternate French universe as her backdrop, the remark is a perfect example of the subtle brand of sexism Pourriat is able to successfully explore--what sociologists sometimes refer to as microaggressions. Later in the film, the protagonist encounters a group of young women on the street. He endures their catcalls, but when he finally stands up for himself, the women chase him into alley and rape him at knifepoint. While the obstacles confronting the protagonist as he goes about his day do not always result in physical harm, in each instance, he is the recipient of a rather vivid lesson about the place and position he and other men occupy in this fictional matriarchal society. In my view, the film works as a kind of thought experiment and confronts viewers with an unsettling question: If you're appalled by the treatment of men in this fictional society, why aren't you appalled by the ways women are treated in many real societies? For those who might object that the filmmaker is exaggerating to make her point, consider the fact that at least in the U.S. a nationally representative survey found that 87 percent of American women between the ages of 18-64 had been harassed by a male stranger; and over half of them experienced “extreme” forms of harassment including being touched, grabbed, rubbed, brushed or followed. Even more harrowing, a recent Centers for Disease Control survey calculated that 1 in 5 American women will endure a rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes. To be blunt, the film is shocking, not because it exaggerates, but because it encourages viewers to contemplate a truth. What is truly remarkable then is that people have become so numb to patriarchal aggressions; the assaults have become so normalized that it takes a work of fiction to coax people into truly seeing the society in which they live.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist