French President Declares War on Wolf Whistles and Online Porn

Three vintage black-and-white photos of semi-nude women in various poses, attributed to French photographer Jean Agélou (1878–1921)
French postcards -- not to be confused with French letters (Jean Agélou via Wikimedia Commons)
French President Emmanuel Macron proposes to fight sexism in his nation with a healthy dose of state-sponsored morality.

In an address Saturday that seemed tailor-made for an Onion parody (or was it an Onion parody?), French President Emmanuel Macron announced with a straight face that his nation is “sick with sexism” and in deep need of a government-sponsored cure.

Reason.com’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports that Macron indulged his prudish side during a speech to honor the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Color photo of President Emmanuel Macron of France visiting L'Ecole Polytechnique in Paris in October 2017. Macron is photographed from the chest up, wearing jacket and tie and flanked by unidentified dignitaries.
French president Emmanuel Macron: Enemy of online porn and catcalls (L’Ecole Polytechnique via Flickr [cropped])
After reminding listeners that the French “are not a Puritan society,” the French president went full-frontal Puritan, proposing to cure the populace’s laissez-faire attitude toward sexism by levying fines for street catcalls and wolf whistles and cracking down on cyber porn and video games, ostensibly to keep explicit adult content far from the impressionable minds of les gamins.

His remarks drew the ire of French porn star Manuel Ferrara, a five-time winner of Adult Video News‘ “Male Performer of the Year” award, who suggested that Macron convene a summit with XXX performers to drill down to the bare facts of the issue.

Writes Nolan Brown:

Porn is infiltrating French schools, Macron warned, and “we cannot ignore the kind that makes women an object of humiliation.”

If Macron gets his way, France’s Superior Audiovisual Council will be tasked with monitoring online videos for “the protection of the young public,” and schools will implement an awareness campaign about “stereotypes, domination, and violence” in porn.

On Twitter, French porn star Manuel Ferrara pushed back against Macron’s suggestion that exposure to porn is linked to a propensity to assault women. Rather than “demonize” porn, Ferrara suggested, the president should sit down with adult entertainers for a discussion. Ferrara later accused Macron of “faire un amalgame” — jumping to conclusions — about the supposed effects of online pornography. “It’s the same with video games,” Ferrara told France Inter. “It’s like saying a teenager who plays Call of Duty is going to pick up a gun and kill everyone in his school.”

Not all of Macron’s policy ideas for reining in Gallic permissiveness are bad,  Brown notes, pointing to his proposal to set fifteen as the minimum legal age of sexual consent in France, which currently has no legislation on the books. (In the U.S., each state determines the age of consent, which ranges from sixteen to eighteen.)

Sounds reasonable, though it’s hard to know what to make of Macron’s own May-September romance with future French First Lady Brigitte Trogneux.

They met when Macron was fifteen and Trogneux was teaching an after-school drama class at the Lycée la Providence, the Jesuit school he attended. She was nearly forty at the time, and a married mother of three.

Macron’s parents disapproved of the affair and shipped him off to another school. But the boy vowed to return and wed Brigitte, which he did in 2007. He was not quite 30, she, 54.

Not quite Harold and Maude. But given such an unconventional personal relationship, why has Macron, a liberal centrist, adopted a more conventional public morality of late?

In a recent Christian Science Monitor  story, reporters Colette Davidson and Sara Miller Llana offer an intriguing analysis, deeming Macron’s recent stance a consequence of the so-called Weinstein effect.

“France’s social media movement #BalanceTonPorc, or ‘out your pig,’ is a more pointed and accusatory version of its American counterpart #MeToo,” they write.

And yet the story quotes some prominent French women who warn that “Anglo-American” sensibilities are threatening France’s vaunted sexual tolerance.

Said sensibilities, in turn, are not far removed from the “Puritan” mindset Macron pooh-poohed in his remarks.

Follow Elizabeth Nolan Brown on Twitter, and avail yourself of her take on Emmanuel Macron’s recent remarks by following the link below:

“French President Vows Crackdown on ‘Verbal Violence’ Against Women”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.