Kit Steinkellner
August 26, 2015 12:05 pm

We all know Paris as the City of Lights, or the City of Love. It also just became the City of Lady Power.

To catch you up to speed, the French feminist organization Osez le Féminisme does not like the fact that only 2.6%  of streets in Paris are named for women. Of these 160 signs, almost all of the women are daughters and wives of famous men rather than women who have made history and changed the world in their own right. That’s why, on Tuesday night, the group took to Paris’ epicenter, the Ile de la Cité, and “renamed” 60 streets, covering the real street signs with signs that bear notable women’s names. When everyone woke up on Wednesday morning, the city center had undergone a total feminist transformation

Example: “Quai De La Tournelle” became “Quai De Nina Simone” after the famous American jazz singer and civil rights activist. As The Local reports, other signs were transformed and “renamed” after history-making French women, including “…pioneer lawyer Jeanne Chauvin, record-holding sailor Florence Arthaud, and France’s first qualified female doctor Madeleine Brès… writer Simone de Beauvoir, scientist Marie Curie, and less well-known figures like concert pianist Micheline Ostermeyer, who was also an Olympic gold medalist.”

Of course, summer tourists, with their Lonely Planets in hand, were all kinds of confused by the change in street signs. But, Aurelie, a spokeswoman for  Osez le Féminisme doesn’t think this confusion is a bad thing.

“They’ll realize and talk about it, they will talk to their friends, maybe they’ll start understanding a bit more,” she explained to The Local.

Aurelie’s colleague Aurelia believes that this stunt won’t just be educational for tourists, but also for Parisians.

“Little kids walking around Paris will subconsciously be taking in the history of France through things like street signs. They’ll think that France was built by great men — but it’s important they know about the important women too,” she explained.

The group is hoping that this stunt will not just make a statement, but lead to real street sign change. They want to meet with Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo to talk about getting more signs named for women.

“Overall around 32 percent of streets in Paris contain proper nouns,” another group spokeswoman, Marie Allibert, told The Local. “We want half of these streets to be named after women. We are not saying that the streets named after men should be changed to women’s names but that streets named after things such as Rue de la Chappelle could be changed to a woman’s name.”

We sincerely hope that this meeting happens, goes well, and on our next jaunt to Paris we see important ladies repped on signs all over the city. We love our City of Light and Love, but we would REALLY love to see Paris embrace the women of its past and present in a bold and concrete way and get its City of Lady Power on.

Related:

Need a vacation? These 5 books will teleport you to Paris

It’s time to say a sad goodbye to Paris’ oh-so-iconic ‘love locks’

(Images via Twitter/Osez le Feminisme)

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