“An ordinary rape” by Janette Bertrand: defending equality between men and women

A great communicator and woman committed to the defense of equality between men and women, Janette Bertrand is signing a new novel this fall which tackles a hot topical subject through fiction. Ordinary rape, novel-shock, is written in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the wave of denunciations that has swept through Quebec recently. As always, Janette tries to understand what is going on and to change mentalities.

The novel tells about the effects of the actions of an average individual, an “ordinary guy” who, one evening, forces his girlfriend to do a sexual activity she does not want. Even though she says “no” several times he continues. And gets denounced.

His mother, overwhelmed by events, seeks to understand why her son has crossed the line. She questions her own journey as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, looking at the situation from all angles.

She tries everything she can to open up a conversation with her trucker husband, by email when he is on the road and in person when he comes home, but the dialogue between them is tense. She tries to understand. Rather, he closes the doors.

Julie realizes that old mentalities are stubborn. But little by little, through exchanges between them and with other characters in the novel, she is sending her message of change and equality.

Slow evolution

The battle for gender equality and respect for the condition of women, in the private and public sphere, are at the heart of the novel. In great shape, she talks with great energy about her new book, in an interview.

Has Quebec society evolved over the past decades? “Ah … We’re changing slowly,” she concedes. “Mindsets are what take the longest to change. Having a new way of living does not happen overnight and we, Quebecers, are terribly marked by religion. We must not take that out of the idea. It’s still like that. “

Six months of research

To write this novel, Janette Bertrand did her research. “I spent six months with social workers. I really did my homework. And then, 94% of rapes in Quebec are ordinary rapes, that is to say with people you love, people you know. It happens, rapes, of a woman getting off the bus and being raped in the dark … but it’s 5%. Yet that’s what women fear the most. “

Janette Bertrand, 95, believes she is one of the first to talk about the concept of “ordinary rape”. “The young women in my publishing house thought it was amazing: well, someone is talking about this!”

She wanted to write on the subject because she finds that “things are not going fast” after #MeToo. “I do a lot of lectures, I meet people, and what I hear is guys don’t change. If the guys don’t try to figure out what happened with these denunciations, they stay in the denial. “


So she created this story. “I made a good guy, in a regular family, 39 years old, who did that. Men feel legitimate to do this. And women, we’ve just had a long journey of being nice, of doing what the guy wants. I got married, and in the law it was written, “You owe submission to your husband.” Submission also means in bed.

“I remember an expression from my father, who always said that love was, ‘Bing, bang, turn around, then sleep.’ And I learned a lot from my 17 years of heart mail. ”

♦ A great communicator, Janette Bertrand has written novels, essays and numerous television dramas.

♦ She created and hosted several shows aimed at breaking down prejudices and taboos.

♦ She has received several prestigious awards and numerous distinctions.

♦ Her “Write your life” project offered to seniors during confinement was a hit: Janette received 75 biographies of 75 pages! These texts will be grouped together, published and integrated into an exhibition project at the Musée de la civilization.


– I put myself beautiful for myself, to raise my esteem and for you too. I wish you hadn’t jumped on me when I got there. That you take the time to look at me first. My look took time and money. I wish you had enjoyed it a bit, that’s all. And then, no! This is not the real reason. A question crossed my mind as I opened the door for you. If we weren’t sleeping together, maybe you weren’t coming just for my presence. At that point, I feel a bit ‘garbage’, and then I don’t like that feeling of being a disposable sex object after use. “

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