Words of women

Complement to the manifesto series presented on Arte in October, which consisted of 24 short films on violence against women, H24 brings together 24 short stories inspired by various facts written by 24 authors from 11 countries under the direction of Nathalie Masdurand and Valérie Urrea. Among those personalities who lend their voices to anonymous women are the American writer Siri Hustvedt, the French politician Christiane Taubira and the Finnish novelist Sofi Oksanen.

As its subtitle suggests, this hard-hitting book chronicles 24 hours in the life of a woman because abusers strike all the time. “We need this urgency when it is a woman who cries out, to stand up for herself, whether she is transgender or cis”, writes Cameroonian Jo Güstin in “Le cri Défendu”, where a woman proudly affirms that she is no longer afraid. to take action to defend his sisters. Unfortunately, however, they are not numerous in H24, some addressed to us post-mortem.

From insistent flirtation to feminicide, through sexist insults, touching and rape, these 24 first-person stories aptly illustrate the humiliation, sadness, fear and distress that women experience at one time or another. the other of their lives, when it is not on a daily basis, regardless of their age or their origin. In “Signs” by the German Angela Lehner, it is from the point of view of the man that we are told about the aggression. “No, but what a hysterical bitch!” I wanted to be of service, ”he says, trying to get the support of the bus passengers after making an indecent offer to a woman who just wanted to sit down after a hard day’s work.

We don’t read H24 with pleasure, each story painfully refers to a reality that we may have experienced or witnessed, but we do not read it less eagerly. If some stories are lighter, like that of Alice Zeniter, “10 cm above the ground”, where a woman is forced by her employers to wear high heels, the union of these 24 female voices forms a powerful cry. of the heart whose reach cannot be ignored.



Collective, Actes Sud and Arte Éditions, Paris, 2021, 187 pages

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