Aug 312009

(asked by Mary from the US)

I have a male friend who is French, he is currently an English teacher in France. We’re Facebook friends, and his updates are constantly about sex- quizzes relating to sex he’s taken, comments about sex, etc. Additionally, in his emails, he never fails to mention a sexual encounter, and always brags how his female (and male…) students have crushes on him and give him sexual gifts, like handcuffs or condoms. It’s not just him either; his French friends on Facebook are often leaving comments about sex as well. Whats the deal? Obviously in the US this student/teacher sex stuff wouldn’t fly, and my American friends rarely allude to sex on their Facebook either.

What’s the deal?
Well, your friend is a weirdo and/or is one of those people that think Facebook’s purpose is meeting people for sexual encounters (there are more people like that than you think).

That being said, I’m using this question to talk about the relationship that French people have with sex.

Puritanism never existed in France, and French people have the chance to be more or less free from the religious morality that plagues so many cultures, the American one included.
Because of that, French people are more open about sex than many cultures.
What does this mean? Well, that sex is less of a taboo, is not so much of a big deal, and is definitely not an obsession like it can be elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, French people think about sex pretty much as often as anybody else on Earth, but those thoughts don’t come with the same hoopla than in some other cultures, that is without guilt or moral judgment (guess what? sex is neither good nor bad by nature) or on the contrary obsessive behavior.
Sex is seen as a natural thing and it is understood that it is a normal aspect of everybody’s life, even if it’s part of the private sphere most of the times.

Back to teacher/student relationships, yeah, when I first arrived in the US, I couldn’t believe we had to follow a day-long training session about sexual harassment between teachers and students. That would just be unthinkable in France.
On the other hand, what your friend is saying about students giving him gifts that have sexual connotations is pretty strange too. Sounds like someone that’s full of shit to me; or at best those gifts were meant as a joke, but seriously I doubt it.

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  3 Responses to “Are Frenchmen totally obsessed with sex?”

  1. I think you're extrapolating from one slightly weird-sounding French guy and his mates to 'all French men'. Also, from my point of view, American culture has a pretty odd relationship with sex, so maybe this says as much about where you're coming from as about your friend? All those abstinence campaigns (that they have government funding appals me!) This weird idea that men have to try to persuade women into sex - that men are 'getting some' and the women are 'putting out' rather than sex being some morally-neutral, pleasant pastime for everyone? I think France is just more relaxed about sex, and doesn't need to invent all these rules about who can have sex with who.

    And things that have little or nothing to do with sex get weirdly sexualised in America - I still don't know why there was so much hysteria about Janet Jackson's nipple…?

  2. Even more baffling was the controversy surrounding a mothers magazine featuring an infant nursing

    People were so up in arms about this natural part of life being in plain view of children and men in homes and doctors offices around the country. I just don't get it.

  3. I had a professor who said once, "People make a lot of jokes about what they fear most. The Russians make a lot of jokes about money. The French make a lot of jokes about the Anglo-Saxons. And the Americans make a lot of jokes about sex."

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