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Looking at Harassment through an Unusually Scaly Lens

Does it ever feel like being a woman in public is like being surrounded by dangerous animals? Well, one French artist has taken that feeling and put it to paper. Projet Crocodiles presents, through webcomics, the many ways in which women find themselves harassed, manipulated, assaulted, or otherwise harmed by the crocodiles of the world. The artist, Thomas Mathieu, takes his inspiration from real submissions—but unlike in the real world, all the men in these drawings have been replaced by crocodiles.

(A quick note: depending on your standards, the site may be NSFW as a few comics include very small drawings of penises as well as some nudity and sex. There's also one piece that shows a—relatively non-violent—rape, though it's very far down the page.)


The comics depict a wide variety of situations, from the catcalling that many women face on a daily basis to aggressively over-attached exes to flashing and public masturbation. Some storylines focus on workplace sexism, others on the particular harassment faced by those who dare to be lesbians in public; several take a good look at the ways in which bystanders and so-called friends can make the problem worse, or even the ways in which victims may blame themselves. Thought the text is in French, the images present situations that often need no words. Take the following comic—the first panel reads, "This is my favorite shirt! I've been waiting forever to be able to wear it!" The rest speaks for itself.

Why draw all men as crocodiles, though? In doing so, doesn't Mathieu lump all the decent guys (the majority, one would hope) in with the few bad eggs? You could say that, but there's a good reason for the decision:

If I only draw the bastards as crocodiles, I'm obliged to pass judgement every time. This man is good, this man is bad; who will be a little idiotic. Here, the reader can read and come up with their own ideas.


The effect is particularly striking in some cases, as in this panel reflecting the fact that 8 out of 10 people in the metro at night are men (link in French). In scenes like these, Mathieu captures the feeling that it's often impossible to know who will walk on by without trouble and who won't.


Mathieu also has a long piece about strategies for dealing with harassment (particularly street harassment). While I'm a big advocate of the idea that the best way to deal with harassment is the one that makes you most comfortable, and I'm a little uncomfortable with a male voice being the one to talk about ways to react to harassment, some of the advice offers new options for women who have found that nothing else works.

Top strip: Write everything in a notebook (or agenda): "What did you say? And how many times do you say that to people each day? How do you choose your 'victims'?"

Bottom strip: Say an absurd phrase. "Wanna blow me?" "At night, all cats are gray."


All in all, Projet Crocodiles serves as a great expression of the many ways in which women are treated as public goods, free for the taking and open to critique by any random stranger. The rest of the pieces on the website require varying levels of French (from none whatsoever to "crap, let me look that up"), but they're worth a look even so.

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