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‘Sociologist of emotions’ Eva Illouz on #MeToo and French versus ‘Anglo-Saxon’ sexual mores

1 March 2018 par AAPA France

The US-educated Franco-Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz spoke to the Anglo-American Press Association for two hours on February 21st at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, where she teaches.

Illouz is a leading expert in the study of feminism and male-female relationships. She explained how the #MeToo movement sparked by accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein is unique, describing it as “the reverberating light of a star that exploded in the 1960s,” that is to say, the feminist movement.

Illouz does not think #MeToo marks the end of sexual harassment, but that “men are going to think about the future consequences of their actions, which is something they did not do before.”

French sexual mores are less strict than those in Anglo-Saxon countries, in part because the Catholic aristocrats’ practice of remaining in marriage while having lovers “trickled down,” and because of a tradition of libertinage that is absent in the US.

French women tend to see their own sexual attractiveness as a source of power, for historical reasons, Illouz said. Since the court of Louis XIV, French women have used sexuality as a means of gaining power. And French women drew up the code of gallantry that dictated to men how they should seduce women.

Asked whether US President Donald Trump behaves like a French aristocrat, Illouz said that Trump’s relations with women were “really about the crude exchange of money for sex and beauty.”

Illouz also teaches at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has lectured at prestigious universities around the world, including Oxford, Princeton and Yale. She appears regularly in publications such as Ha’aretz and Le Monde newspapers. In Germany, where her work is particularly well known, Die Zeit newspaper called Illouz one of the twelve people most likely to “shape the thought of tomorrow.”

-Lara Marlowe