Consumerism, Pornography And Pigs Like Harvey Weinstein

For a Paris sex therapist, the fight against sexual abuse requires action against online pornography and the sexualization of youth. The victims are men and women alike.

Sexism on display
Sexism on display
Thérèse Hargot*


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

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!