-OpEd-

PARIS — The pigs we've been ratting out on social media since the Harvey Weinstein scandal erupted are our husbands, sons and uncles, our friends, colleagues, teachers, our clergymen and our employers. Out with the big bad wolf — meet the modern swine in our midst.

An unending stream of testimonies has been pouring out across the Internet. We were waiting for the nod from celebrities before finally speaking out, finally denouncing. Me too, me too. Yes, like these women idolized the world over for their dream bodies, the object of all fantasies in their immensely sensual dresses, me too. We are equals in the face of perversity. And it's a relief. "Oh, so I'm not alone then?" we tell ourselves. And yet, in the secrecy of my practice as a professional sexologist, they come and tell me every day about the assaults, the harassment, the touching, the rape they've endured.

I eventually doubted that there might be a single woman out there who hadn't at some point or other perceived her female body as a source of danger. Eventually, I also doubted there might be a single man on the face of the Earth who had never been "that swine," in thought or in action. How could it be any different? Aren't we, women, being asked to be objects of pleasure? Aren't you, men, asked to be consumers of these objects? And aren't we told that we should pursue "pleasure without restraints" [one of the most memorable slogans from the May 1968 student uprisings in Paris was "jouir sans entraves"]?

I was born in 1984, so sorry if I've never properly understood the lesson. I mean, the moral lesson we've been witnessing for the past few weeks. Why take offense so suddenly?

Dehumanizing women and men, turning the former into bait and the latter into pigs ready to reach for anything, maintaining them all in their drive stages in order to favor impulse buying: Wasn't that the goal all along? How else do you want our mass consumption society to function? The manufacturing of sex objects and swines begins very early. It's not a "culture," as feminists put it, but, on the contrary, a principle of acculturation. Whereas the difference between the sexes was tamed by polite society, it is now caricatured in the commercial world.

A system in which sexual liberalism and economic liberalism work hand-in-hand.

While so-called feminists make frantic attempts to make the Snow Whites and Sleeping Beauties disappear from children's libraries out of fear — imagine the horror: little girls wanting to marry valiant knights — we're bombarding these young minds with advertisements where women and objects on sale appear side-by-side, we're presenting them with bimbos and their ultra-sexualized bodies as role models.

Success for a girl is succeeding in arousing desire. Meanwhile, millions of hours of pornographic videos are being consumed by barely pubescent teenagers, children letting their sexual impulses run wild, the same impulses that education must teach them to tame in order to live in society.

Cheeky ad — Photo: Ray Sawhill

These videos show body parts slotting together and apart, according to staged sexual fantasies aimed at arousing the individual masturbating as he watches them and at bringing him back, again and again, thus getting him accustomed to "consuming sex" as early as possible and for as long as possible. A compulsive, recreational, genital, mechanical and technical sexuality is glorified. On the streets, on the screens, at work: Men are being excessively solicited and are as much victims of the hypersexualization of society as women. And nobody seems to be moved by the fact that this might lead to the massive creation of stalkers, harassers, assaulters, abusers, rapists, that is to say individuals who are prisoners of a compulsive relation to sex, to the other sex.

Here in France, my worry regarding the fate of the "porn generation" has led the magazine Les Inrocks to describe me as a puritan. The same magazine that, just a few weeks ago, promoted on its front page a man, Bertrand Cantat, who beat his wife to death. But it sells, so what's the problem?

Profit. This is what drives the whole system in which sexual liberalism and economic liberalism work hand-in-hand: Encourage consumption by turning us into capricious children who maximize their pleasure by means of "I do what I want, when I want, how I want."

Aren't we, women, being asked to be objects of pleasure?

By vengeance or by revenge, when we call the men who don't respect women's dignity "swine," we are also dehumanizing them and therefore feeding a dominance and submission relationship. Women's condescension towards men ("they have sexual needs" and "they don't know how to control themselves") is a form of violence against those who may have otherwise preferred to be our valiant knights.

Denunciation on social media is low, it introduces suspicion. Between the virgin and the whore, between the nice guy and the macho, who knows where they stand? If, while strongly condemning their actions, we fail to understand that men are also victims of this system, denunciation is not only vain, but it intensifies the war between the sexes.

Let's stop being hypocrites. Let's not aim at the wrong target. To avoid having to establish a behavior police in the adult world, our first priority should be to protect young people from the ravages of pornography and hypersexualization.

*The author is a Belgian-born Paris-based sexologist


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