French activist Pauline Harmange's book 'I Hate Men' was sold out after a government official called for its ban on the grounds of inciting gender-based hatred. The book was dubbed an "ode to misandry" by the official Ralph Zurmély who even threatened its publisher to withdraw the sale or face criminal prosecution.
Zurmély, who is a special adviser to France's ministry for gender equality, reminded the publisher Monstrograph that inciting hatred based on gender was a criminal offence, according to email record obtained by French media outlet Mediapart. He told the French online investigative journal that Monstrograph would be "directly complicit in the offence and I would then be obliged to send it to the prosecution for legal proceedings."
However, the publisher maintained that the book — titled 'Moi les hommes, je les déteste' in French — was not a source of hatred towards men and was rather a "feminist and iconoclastic book" that "defends misandry as a way of making room for sisterhood."
The special adviser's criticism led to the skyrocketing sale of the book. According to France 24, the book's initial press run set to be 400 copies but about 2,500 copies of the book sold out within first two weeks of its release in August.
What does France's ministry for gender equality say?
After Zurmély's comments were poorly received on social media, the ministry distanced itself from him. It said that the adviser's threat to the publisher was a "personal initiative and completely independent of the ministry."
Harmange, the book's author, lashed out at Zurmély' saying she found his attitude problematic. "A state official who has a power crisis facing an 80-page book released in 400 copies, I find that very problematic," she said.
Who is Pauline Harmange?
Harmange is a 25-year-old native of the northern French city of Lille. She identified herself as bisexual was married to a man. She reportedly said her distrust in men stemmed from working with rape and sexual assault victims in France.
She also said that women who did not like men "neither kill nor injure anyone, nor prevent them from dressing the way they wish, from walking in the street at night, or from expressing themselves as they see fit."