Openly Breaking The Law In Paris.
Knowingly breaking the law terrifies me. I am always certain that I will get caught or be seen or some other terrible thing will happen to punish me. It drives my husband crazy. I will not park anywhere that is not marked as authorised parking, I generally drive more slowly than the rest of the people on the road and I won’t even put the sugar lumps from the coffee he bought me into my handbag. In a Japanese restaurant recently my daughter wanted the chopsticks. They were cheap throw away chopsticks. The type that you unwrap and have to snap in two, probably made from bolsa wood. I insisted that she asked before taking them. She gave me that look, the one that says ‘you are so humiliating mum!’ So what would a ‘fraidy cat’ like me be doing openly breaking the law in Paris?
I didn’t know, honest officer.
Apparently ignorance of the law is no excuse. Whilst it can reduce your fine or jail time a law is a law and citizens are expected to acquaint themselves with the law. Neither is the fact that everyone around you is doing the same thing. So here is my gallery of shame. Openly flaunting the law of the land in Paris one cloudy day in 2008. It’s not just me either. Can you see how many people are actually breaking the law here? Even that very smart-looking lady in the red coat is breaking the law.
You will have to excuse the poor quality of these pictures. It was a very dull day, I didn’t have a good camera with me and I didn’t know the pictures would be called in evidence in this way.
A Parisian law dating from November 1800 dictates that “Any woman wishing to dress as a man must present herself at the police station and obtain authorisation” (my translation). If the law is not respected the woman can be arrested and taken into custody. This law still exists despite the equality laws being drawn into the French Constitution in 1946. Another contradiction is the law insisting that Parisian police women wear trousers. The law was slightly changed in 1892 and 1909 to allow women either riding a bicycle or holding the reins of a horse to cover their legs. You will notice that the women in the above pictures, including me, do not have horses or bicycles. I know! I broke the law! (Hangs head in shame.)
There were several calls to repeal this law as it is considered anti constitutional but certainly up to last year it had not been changed. There is a wonderful article in The Sydney Morning Herald called “The politics of pants”. It talks about this law and has some excellent pictures of Maxime de la Falaise, Anne Scott-James, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn all wearing trousers. It is well worth a look. Although that article calls them pants, I have to point out that I am British, so unless I did this :-
no one would ever know if I were wearing pants or not.
There is currently no law banning men from dressing as a woman. In the late 1950s Paris went through a “transgender-outlawed” period under Charles de Gaulle. There was an exhibition of photographs from this period in New York last year.
Have you broken any laws recently?
Are there any outdated laws in your country that people break every day?
Are there laws you think should be repealed?
- Daily Prompt: Breaking the Law/ Defying Reality (themotherofnine9.wordpress.com)
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