France’s #MeToo: Book on child-sex writer prompts outcry. France is experiencing what activists hope is a watershed moment for its fledgling #MeToo movement.
For decades, the Frenchman, Gabriel Matzneff, has been celebrating child sex through his literary works with acclimation and applause. Child sex is prevalent in France as it is everywhere but its continued celebration by the Paris intellectual community is unusual. As recently as 2013, Matzneff was honored by the French government with medals and an annual allowance.
This may change with the publication of Vanessa Springora’s Book, Consent. In it she describes how her mother introduced her to the famous fifty-year old author, Matzneff, at a dinner party and then turned a blind eye when he began picking her up at school and taking her to a hotel or his flat for an afternoon of sex. She was fourteen. Now a grown woman, Vanessa has written a book about the relationship, of the many adults who refused to intervene and how it harmed her. “I was too young to foresee the damage done to my life by his predatory grip on my body and mind.
Le Consentement, published this month and already in its seventh printing, is flying off the shelves. Members of Innocence in Danger, are calling for attitude and legal changes regarding childhood sexual violence. As is typical for sexual predators, Marzneff has defended his actions by calling his relationship with Springora “one of the passionate loves of his life.” This is a “dagger to the heart, that is intended to destroy me and make me out as a pervert, a manipulator and a predator, a bastard.”
The under 16s, a shocking essay first published in 1974 by Matzneff was celebrated as brilliant and used to support France’s permissive attitudes toward sex with children. Now it is being withdrawn from book shelves. Finally, after years of acclaiming himself as a lover of children, he is the target of a rape probe by Paris prosecutors and is defiled as a “eulogist of pedo-criminality.”
In France, rapists’ have the ability to argue that children consented to sex as there is no statutory rape charge. French courts refuse to prosecute men for rape if authorities can’t prove the children were coerced. This reminds me of my child protective work in the early nineties in rural New York when a judge told me that the “grandfather would not have raped his two-year old granddaughter if she hadn’t shaken her tushy at him. Not guilty.”
Preferring his description of himself as a pervert, predator and manipulator, I hope the French people continue to speak loudly of their disgust for this man and the hundreds of child victims he has raped. Let France and America eliminate the statute of limitations for child molestation. Let predators be offered therapy for their childhood traumas while under protective custody, not celebrated as heroes.
JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press published an article on January 12, 2020 which inspired this post.
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