After a French government official tried to ban a feminist book, every copy of the book was purchased. Now, 25-year-old Pauline Harmange’s book called “I Hate Men” in French has found herself elevated to the status of a literary sensation. By moving to ban her book, the French official’s plan backfired as it made many people curious to see what Harmange had to say, increasing book sales until all 450 first editions and an additional 2,500 copies were sold.
Pauline Harmange’s “Moi Les Hommes, Je Les déteste” hit book stores across France. However, the book became notable after Ralph Zurmély, a special adviser to France’s ministry for gender equality, called the book an “ode to misandry [a hatred of men].”
Zurmély emailed the book’s publisher and called the text an “incitement to hatred on the grounds of gender is a criminal offense.” He then demanded that the publisher recant the book and pull it from shelves everywhere or else face the “pain of criminal prosecution.”
The publisher, Monstrograph, refused to bend to pressure from the government. Besides, it claims that the activist’s book argues that “anger towards men is actually a joyful and emancipatory path if it is allowed to be expressed.” The book also explores whether or not women “have good reason to hate men.”
Despite the arguments put forward by Zurmély, Monstrograph denies that the young woman wrote a book that incites hatred. Instead, the book is “feminist and iconoclastic.” It also “defends misandry as a way of making room for sisterhood.”
Monstrograph is a small press run by a group of literary volunteers. Colline Pierre is one of the founders of the publisher. She said:
“The title is provocative, but the language is measured. It is an invitation not to oblige oneself to frequent men or compromise with them. At no time does the author incite violence.”
Because the book stirred up so much controversy, the first 450 copies sold out immediately. Since Zurmély asked the publisher to stop printing the book, the micro-press has sold an additional 2,500 copies.
Due to these sales, the book will be getting a larger distribution. A larger (yet unnamed publisher) will buy the rights for the book – and it will also be considered for translation into English for the United Kingdom audience.
Although Zurmély works for France’s ministry for gender equality, the group has since tried to divorce itself from Zurmély’s sexist fears. They also made it clear that they have no intention of following through with his extremist threat, labeling his call for a ban a “personal initiative and completely independent of the ministry.”
Despite the controversy, Harmange hopes the book helps women “imagine a new way of being, to take less account of the often unsupported opinions of men, to consider the adage ‘it is better to be alone than in bad company, seriously, and to rediscover the strength of female relationships full of reciprocity, gentleness, and strength.”
Harmange is overwhelmed by the unprecedented success of the book, which, before Zurmély’s attack, was only supposed to be printed about 500 times.
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