Category Archives: Relationships – Relations humaines

Men and women: The stripper discrepancy.

Let’s address a fundamental question here:

Why is it okay for the media to show a male model stripping to cheering women when it’s morally unacceptable to show a women stripping to cheering men?

Why is it okay for women to objectify men but not okay for men to objectify women?

In a nutshell, that’s because very few women actually objectify men whereas very few men manage to see beyond what sexually arouses them.

As a gay man in my 30s, I got to experience both sides when living in England and I have to say there is a massive difference in how the model/stripper is treated. Maybe I have been living in Care Bears world but unlike men, I have never witnessed women calling the stripping man names such as “fucker”, “cunt”, “slag”, “whore”, “piggy”, “bastard”, “dirty little slut” et al.

I have never heard women say to the stripping man: “You want it, don’t you? I know you do, you dirty pig! To suck my pussy! Yeah, that’s right! All you really want is me to sit on your face so I can shove your nose in it. Come on, baby, open your mouth and taste my juice. We both know that’s why you’re here!”

I have never seen a women crossing the lines that were clearly marked. Never have we had to even restrain a female friend because she simply decided it was better to disregard what we talked about, what the agency told us beforehand and just shoved her hand in there to grab the guy’s penis or force him to perform a sexual act right here, right now just because she pays the price. That’s rape, by the way.

With women, the ambiance is of fun. Genuine fun. Little alcohol and a lot of laughter in a mostly bright environment. Once, the room was dark but all the other couple of times, it was fully lit and we could all see each other very clearly. I never felt disgusted or disgusting. On the opposite, the point was to, indeed, enjoy the amazing body of a man who worked hard to get it, but mostly to have a fun and to make fun of the most prudish girls by making the guy dance on them as they were cringing whilst also laughing.

My female friends would talk with the guy afterwards like a normal person after he put his clothes back on. We would share drinks and would talk to him, he would become part of the guests until he had to go to his next job.

We would pay him for his stripping as a entertainer and we would always acknowledge his humanity. Some have thought otherwise, I am sure, but we never acted like we owned him for the time he worked for us. Of course we had his body in our head and we talked about it with him too, trying to hide the fact that we did crave for him to pound each of us until we turned blue. Nevertheless, he was never meant to feel like just a piece of worthless meat designed solely for our most unbalanced sexual fantasies, or as an morally reprehensible accessory we would share in secret as mean to bound us further.

Whereas all the abhorrent talk and insults I mentioned before is what I have always witnessed with men. With men, it’s squalid, insulting, disgusting. You always find yourself in some weird places in the badly-lit backstreets of towns, in a room where you cannot see anyone else but the girl doing what is essentially a job to pay the rent, the food for her kids or her studies. Do any of the men present ever think of that as they shout insults? Does it ever cross their mind that the moving body in front of them is living beyond these walls, has a life and has a story to tell? No. And not because they are inherent low-lives but because they drink to behave as such.

Indeed, unlike with women, there is this constant need for alcohol with men because of course behaving like beasts doesn’t come naturally to humans anymore. Education means inhibitions that will only go away with drugs.

With men, I witnessed what we have normalised as “locker room talk”: this competition in being the one who will degrade the stripping woman the most, this bounding in the secrecy of doing together something they know to be wrong or reprehensible. This “Bros before hoes” mentality where the “hoe” will pay the price of the men becoming “bros” – sports being the cesspit of this type of masculinity.

Personally, I have seen married men having to be pushed back by bouncers because they always want to put their hands where they know they mustn’t. I have seen friends of mine in long-term relationships becoming nothing but sex on legs, rubbing their crouch, if not just plainly masturbating within less than a minute after the girl started.

There are many reasons to explain the difference in behaviours and why women very rarely objectify men like that men objectify women. One of them is how men and women behave towards finding a mate to begin with, as women are told very early that finding the “right one” is an essential goal in their life. Therefore every “alpha male” is not yet another fuck on the way to menopause but a potential father. It is deeply carved in the psyche of society and women so competition between women will be to be the most attractive to that man, the most wife-material and that’s not by drinking, swearing and assaulting them that it will occur. Men don’t have this kind of expectations regarding women and themselves.

Actually, speaking of gender education, what I am saying is not entirely true for men are changing. In November, the Guardian published an article showing that men do not enjoy the debauchery of stag-dos anymore, a study that comes after travel agencies have noticed a change in stag-dos pattern and what men do before they get married: no stripper, it’s all about arts and wine.

What these studies show is a trend towards the end of objectification altogether as brotherhood is being redefined. We thought men enjoyed objectifying and found it acceptable, we thought and still think it is the norm within between men, as shows the question I am addressing. In fact, no matter what Mr Trump and over-60s ilks might think, do, say and pretend, it turns out, overall men actually don’t enjoy it. As men are ever more educated towards gender equality and being in touch with their feelings and the ones of others, they find objectification more and more degrading for the woman and also for themselves. They don’t enjoy being reduced to senseless beasts anymore.

Now, we are a long way from a group of men platonically inviting the female stripper to join them as a guest to their party but we are getting there in terms of mutual respect. And aside the sexual roasting of footballers and other sportsmen, I can’t help but also seeing American series like Friends which, more than a decade ago, were already showing the decline of a brotherhood and male friendship built solely around the sexual objectification of women. And as far as sisterhood is concerned, it is defined within the realm of femininity, not towards or at the direct expense of men.

In the meantime, this difference between men and women,  the difference in how they see and treat the other gender stripping, how much of their humanity they actually acknowledge, the difference is what part the other gender plays in the definition of brotherhood and sisterhood is what makes women enjoying a man stripping morally more acceptable.

Education. Education. Education.

I am being asked, as a “Liberal” – whatever that means, what we should do to protect our values against the ones of the people who don’t think like we do. Especially, when these values are of openness, tolerance and freedom for all.

The answer to just block the ones who don’t believe the same as we do is very “in” these days but I do believe in education and empathy, first. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand where they come from so to fathom their thinking and eventually modify it.

I grant you that such a feat is easier for me as a gay man living in a Western society where the religious, no matter how much we order it to shut up, still condemns and calls for the ban of everything they disagree with.

I also lived in many countries where I have experience in shutting up, looking at local beliefs and culture, and try to position myself within it as well as I could without imposing my view.

I would say that’s the first we need to do when immigration is concerned: a French immigrant like me needs to understand that our rejection of monarchy doesn’t mean the rest of the world must behave their monarchs. I disagree with monarchy. It’s everything I stand against: privileges given at birth, social immobility, laziness and the epitome of people who believe they are entitled to living off the state sucking millions up just to look presentable. And they can’t even manage that for some of them.

However, unless specifically asked, I don’t go around Spain, nor did I in England, with a soap box calling Spaniards and Britons idiots and serfs for having a king or a queen and demanding their head on a platter. How Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the whole of Scandinavia and the UK understand their own state is their own choice and I must respect it or leave it.

Do I mean immigrants who don’t want to abide by our rules should leave or be deported? No and yes. For me, it all depends on the idea of choice and open-mindness. I would say to a Westerner riling against a country they have just moved in that if they are not happy to see two men kissing or women wearing bikinis that they are free to go back to where they come from. With an immigrant from most Middle-Eastern or African countries, I wouldn’t do as such. I would educate first. The double standard is justifiable by the difference in education and environment that leads to two words I used before “choice” and “free”.

Why would I tell off a Westerner? Because I know they had access to a differentiated educational system that has taught them about the freedom of choice. A system that has laid out all the possibilities, has explained the world at great lengths, that has creates endless opportunities and freedoms within a wider democratic system where the key is for citizens to take their destiny in their own hands as much as possible and learn to be responsible.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion but after seeing, like I did, an American, born-again Christian in the streets of Paris calling for homosexuals to be banned from getting married, I would, as I did, confront them and tell them to fuck off home.School has taught them many ways and they have willingly chosen one. If it’s incompatible with the ones of a country they also chose to live in, why are they here?

To Westerners, yes but to Muslims for instance, no (-ish). Why? Political correctness? For fear of being labelled racist?

No just because I understand where they come from and the need for reeducation. First-generation immigrants in our Western countries are coming from countries where education is not about choice and opportunities, it’s about repeating and maintaining. Their schools don’t teach critical thinking but dos and don’ts in an overall political environment that is violent and intrinsically unfair and unjust.

These people are coming to our countries fleeing hardship, wanting a better life but with mindsets carved deep into themselves, sometimes literally. The answer to this, I often hear, is deculturation. Especially for the first generation so their children can be fully assimilated.

Parents are asked to leave their culture behind, for their own good too, and take on the new one but what is culture? Your language? Your religion? Your dress code? Your eating habits? As a French atheist living in Spain, should I convert to Catholicism and go to church? When I lived in England, should have I become a Anglican and bow to the Queen? Am I refuse to integrate and assimilate by rejecting Catholicism or my subjecting to the Windors? No. It’s more than that, I am said, but no one can define it.

That’s the point of culture: it’s all the untold rules that we grow up with and make us behave a certain way. In Spain, people think it’s weird when I address them using the second person plural but in France, it’s borderline insulting to address someone you don’t know using the second person singular. Yet we are all share the same Latin roots with just a small mountain range between us.

How do we fix the problem? Education. Education. Education. Let’s consider some key questions I heard from good-willing people thinking some immigrants are a danger to our values: How do we make sure Muslims are not antisemitic? How do we ensure Asians are not forcing their girls into marrying older strangers? How do we ensure African girls are not excised? How do we ensure religious immigrants are not homophobic?

We do what they do in Norway, for instance, we educate them. We listen to their thinking, debate with them, show them something different, teach them critical thinking and acceptance for it doesn’t come naturally, it’s always nurtured. And sometimes, often, we play into their weaknesses of bowing to diktats and say: “Because that’s the way things are done here. So think for you have two choices: You stay and accept it or you go back to where you came from.” A hard choice for most of them but it’s a choice at the end, one that will put them in control of their own destiny, often for the first time.

Cynics from the Right will come me a utopist for thinking we can ever reverse mindsets. Why would they think otherwise? They, themselves, think the solution is to go back to a past they have fantasised.

Cynics from the Left will tell me that we can’t even get Western Christians to be gay-friendly and our own society to accept full men/women equality so immigrants…I get where they come from but all the more reasons to keep trying. We cannot stop human progress and we will learn from ourselves.

Some will point out that I’m being very optimistic when talking about our educational system, that, in more and more countries, it’s being privatised so critical thinking is now a danger to the blind acceptance of a evermore unequal, neo-capitalist society in the name of making money.

I agree and I also see that countries resulting in blanket bans and camps are the ones where education is anything but a priority.

 

Taking to the streets for the future

Trump was elected and his targets are taking to the streets and, as well the usual bastards who are just here to break and create mayhem, I see something else the protesters have to deal with: the Trump electorate who are attacking them. They compare the situation to Obama’s (re-)election forgetting something crucial but they are happy to compare the two so let’s do just that.

Like Meghan Tonjes said, Obama was not perfect – no president ever was and none of them ever had a smooth ride. He made mistakes, some of them that undoubtedly endangered the economic security of people, via his support to some trans-border treaties for example. But one cannot deny that Obama was a uniting force and therefore provided a feeling of safety for the people of America as a whole. During his campaigns and presidency, when addressing the country, he addressed the country, all of it, not some part of it, pitting people against one another which is exactly what Trump did.

So when people say:
“-When Obama was reelected, we did not make a fuss. We shut up and sucked it up!”

I reply: Damn right you did!

And by the way, No! You did not shut up and got on with it. You kept going on about questioning his Americanness, from his policies to his very birth, you kept associating him with Bin Ladin because their name were close and even after he personally gave the order to gave him killed, you carried on with your usual spewing of conspiracies about him being an ally to Islamists. I don’t call that “shutting up” and “sucking it up”, I call it constant defamation in order to undermine someone just because you disagree with him and you don’t like him. Beyond disagreement or dislike, why these constant attacks?

Because that’s all you had. Obama never gave you ground to feel your freedom of being yourself, of existing, of living in the US was endangered. Maybe you felt that your freedom of carrying a gun was in danger but he never targeted you as a person. When he was elected, you didn’t feel your future, the ones of your family and friends was at stake.

Had Obama campaigned with declarations the likes of “When I am elected, no matter what institutions say, every person I personally consider a racist, I’ll have them fired, put in prison, deport and make sure they never set foot on the American soil again!”, I would have understood you taking to the streets to show your anger because that would have been a direct threat to some of you, and not just your passions, but your very existence as Americans.

You did not take to the streets because Obama was uniting, he went above all types of differences to reach you, appeal to you, talk to you whoever you were whereas Trump is divisive: he doesn’t look at America as one big ensemble constantly moving and reinventing itself but rather a monolithic heterosexual WASP block-like majority who has to reluctantly make room for change by putting up with and giving up privileges to minorities. I am not saying that his whole message but that’s most of it.

His campaign was to change how America is perceived by chopping through it with an axe, extracting the heterosexual, able WASPs and appeal to them by pitting them against every single other type of people: African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, non-Christian religions, and even men v women.

To show the damage it does, I will direct to what Clinton said about you when she made the unforgivable mistake of, once, playing into that rhetoric by targeting Trump’s voters saying that “half of them were deplorable”. All of you Trump supporters went up in arms and lashed out. She made the mistake of once being divisive and a lot of people voted for Trump as a result.

That’s why people are in the streets today. To show  the rest of the world that there is more to America than Trump, his ilks and his rhetoric. To show that he doesn’t represent every American but also because they are genuinely scared for their future as they were targeted, not for their opinions or what they did as a living or who they voted for, but for who they are: the colour of their skin, who their heart has feelings for, the birthplace of their parents or even their own. Trump made it openly and proudly clear that all these aspects of identity no one can change, including heterosexual WASPs, were a problem.

If I take the LGBT community, the anguish goes beyond the fear of the resurgence, normalisation and possible formalisation of bullying, it goes to the heart of the family they have built after we had evolved into better, more tolerant human beings – or so we thought – and so I still hope.

Will their marriage of love remain legal or will they have to live underground again?

Will the children they have adopted, they love, nurture and to whom they are giving a chance to finally be happy remain with loving parents or will the family be woken up on January 1st by the sound of social services kicking their way into their home to the snatch the kids away forever because from now on, family can only be defined by blood affiliation and in a heterosexual marriage?

Lacking empathy, lacking the crucial ability of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can mock the LGBTQ community for asking such questions but you cannot stop the fear and the anguish we have because we don’t know what the future holds. And it goes well beyond having a job or owning your own house or gun.

Maybe not the same questions, but the same feelings are running through the Black, Asian and Latino communities. What does the future hold for them? And that’s a question you never had to ask yourself as a consequence of Obama’s being elected. That’s why you did not take to the streets and we are. Looking down on us will not make it go away or will it make you feel better about yourself.

Men and their unsolicited…everything.

Need to rant.

What is it with men and their need to always force themselves on everyone? Whether it’s an advice on how to live our lives, taking over what someone is doing in the name of being “helpful”, or just plainly believing that their needs should be everyone’s priority…why are they like this?

Let’s start with an example: I am at the gym “reinforcing” as they say after some cardio. The gym I go to is specifically designed so there is no bench-pressing area, just some machines on which everyone can go more freely without having to put up with douche-bags with a penis and/or a brain the size of a bean. The motto is “health not showing off”.

Good! So I am lifting a bit and hating every second of it but the loud music in my ears and not wearing my glasses help me go through. They also make me blind and deaf to the world, which is a plus frankly. Suddenly, a shape is in front of me and I somehow manage to distinguish that its lips are moving. I stop, take my glasses, put them on, take off my headphones and face a complete stranger with a smirk. He has said something.

“Pardon me? I say.
-So…how much?
-What?” He bends over and sees I am lifting 15kg so he carries on with a smile.
“Come on…30…”, he winks.  I stare at him for a second and understand that he is that type of guy, the one who thinks he must help me aim higher…despite knowing fuck all about my life, what.so.ever!

I compose myself. “If I needed you, I’d have come with a lead…” On the headphones, off the machine and I leave this part of the gym. He has not understood. Poodles never do.

I have some ideas on the reasons of his behaviour: the meddling, the butting-in when no one has ever asked. Like most of men, he has grown to understand it is his duty. We all have the need to show we know better but as a man raised by a woman, I don’t have this need to interfere in strangers’ lives whereas my gender is on some kind of a constant mission to save the world, basically. “The man is stronger and he decides because he knows better” is the mantra for boys. They like to see themselves as wise and enlightened when they’re nothing but dogs who think it’s friendly to jump on you, lick your face and shag your leg – to say the least. They never see how much we  just want to kick them until they stop….to say the least!

When I talk about that moment with women, they are all with me. They know exactly what I am talking about and it’s usually the starter of hours of countless stories and anecdotes where the male stranger was here to grant us with its inherent knowledge and wisdom.

-The one who tells a woman he doesn’t know, as she is looking at a dress, that “it won’t look good on you, try that one instead” *Coy smile*

-The colleague you barely know yet says “You should try typing with all fingers, it’s less tiring.” *wink wink*

-The  one who says “You should go to the automatic cashier, it would be quicker.” *head tilt*

-The one who tells you “You should report that, that’s so sexist. Can’t you see?” *concerned face*

-The one who tells you about which brands to buy when shopping. *knowledgeable douche*

-The male stranger who told a friend of mine which tampons to buy! *the-I-choose-for-my-girlfriend-and-she-says-she-has-never-been-happier smirk*

These examples come on top of men who constantly feel like they ought to tell you how you should feel, act and react in virtually all aspects of your life. The truth is that the first thing that comes to our minds is “I know you’re terribly lonely and your mates don’t listen to you because they are too busy saving the rest of the world but please, do bugger off.”

When I mention this to other men, they all tell me we are being spiteful bitches. They are right! I was a right bitch to that gym toddler because like all other insufferable devil’s spawns, he was trying to force himself on me at a moment when I was not in any way in the mood or any disposition to have a anyone forcing themselves on me. Can’t they see that?!

“Yes but…”

Yes?! Wait a minute! You’re not blind, then?! You are totally aware than we are not always open to you barging in our personal space and life thinking you can fix what needn’t be fixed in the first place and yet, you come anyway?! Why?

“You don’t get it!”, I am told. I am being antisocial because, yes it was maybe not the right moment, but I should have made an effort because “he was just being friendly, helpful, caring and I reacted like a girl.” No wonder…

“Helpful”, that’s it. He saw me there, minding my own business and he thought I desperately needed his meddling I am asked to acknowledge as selfless help. And, unlike him, I should have made an effort to go with what he wanted and let him in because he was acting out of kindness. As should the rest of the world who obviously cannot go through life without the caring yet unsolicited help of a man. Sorry, “a gentleman” as men called themselves in that situation.

In a nutshell for those who still don’t get it: if one needs help, one asks for it. if not, leave people live their life without forcing yourself on anybody. If you have the urge to do so, refrain it. Then, if indeed asked for help, quit sulking because you were told off before and come and help, like any decent human being would.

On the front now with your cake, eating it.

I had a blazing row with my mother earlier. I love these because we are both very stubborn, are usually in bad faith, like to keep the debate on terms we define and stop on semantics as a way to counter the other one. But we do part with a kiss on the cheek as if nothing happens. No pouting. That’s how I learn how to argue and fight.

It all started when I said I find somehow amusing the rather sickening irony that some of the people who were using Ashley Madison to cheat on their spouse were now taking to the courts against the website on the moral ground that their private life had been exposed and risks complete annihilation because of the website’s inability to keep its promises.

I mean the irony of people who paid to deliberately and consciously break their wedding vows suing a website who didn’t keep its promises is rather amusing. My mother wanted the debate to focus on their right to have their private life kept private and I did not disagree but wanted to stay on the irony. “Dialogue de sourds”

I get her point and although I disagree with anyone’s private life being publicly exposed without their consent, I do have trouble feel sympathy for these people because there are many reason why a country-worth of people are facing turmoil in their private life today.

I will sound very righteous but, as a gay man, we fought hard to get the right to get married so I do see it as a honourable institution and an important personal step in my life. A step that needs to be made free of social constraint, and the result of years (maybe a decade) of personal and couple development. Which I am sure, not a lot of these people’s marriages were to begin with…

The third reason for me is the hackers. My mother think it’s the first reason, I think it’s the third. As I said, I do not condone what they did. They try to take the moral high ground and tell us that it was to prove the website was lying to all its customers about security and the deleting of past information. The truth is that there could have done it in many other ways than publishing the names, addresses et al for everyone to see. Or they could have targeted some individuals such as Josh Duggar or Sam Rader and other famous, very vocal, self-righteous and self-promoting Christians who have been campaigning against gay marriage using the sanctity of the said institution as an argument. People who were saying that “the gays would destroy marriage” when it turns out they were themselves users of Ashley Madison. There was no need to out everybody as far as I am concerned, just the hypocrites whose dedication and faith is only a matter of self-interest and the up-keep of their privilege.

These hackers belong to the same breed of hackers who published naked picture of celebrities all the while trying to make us believe it was the only way to prove the iCloud was not safe and Apple were deceiving all of us. They were just trying to ride the wave of sexual shaming (of women mostly) but it did not work because it was made clear very early that there is nothing wrong with Jennifer Lawrence sending a private picture of herself to her boyfriend. There is however everything wrong with Apple storing it and it’s beyond the pale for hackers to publish it.

In that way, Ashley Madison’s hackers have been cleverer because they know it is and will be difficult to defend people who are willingly looking to cheat on their unknowing spouse. Even if it is not forbidden by the law, the social stigma is there and words like cheaters, liars and cowards are still in our heads when we think about the victims of this very hacking. Can these people really be victims or did they just get what they deserve in cheating? The hackers are trying to be the hand of God here.

They are just preying on people they disapprove of and decided to be the judge, the jury and the executioner in exposing their private in what is nothing but a modern form of Inquisition. They knew the papers would devour and analyse every development, and push people to find more about who is who. They knew the appetite for sex and dirt on our neighbours is endless in all societies. They could have used their time more constructively but not everyone has the courage of a Julian Assange or Edward Snowdon, have they?

The second reason is the website itself, its creators and its owners. They lied, they deceived, they tried to abuse their power and they failed in providing their customers what they were promising and charging for: an absolute anonymity and breach-proof security. It’s all well and good to prey on people’s emotional and sexual misery, as well as to play coy with social rules, to sit on a bed with a smirk and advertise for a life of lies and sexual musical chairs but you have to be able to at least protect the people you are preying on because you make them trust you. Trust…The irony again…

For what I understand, the website was not free and even deleting your account was to be paid for so having an affair was a right to enjoyment but it would indeed cost you even to stop having one. Now, they are facing with lawsuits that will cost them millions and frankly, except for the waste of time and public money in said courts, I am not going to shed a tear.

However, what we tend to forget in the middle of the storm and victimisation of all these people is that, first and foremost, the reason why their private life is in the open and in tatters is because they put it in this situation. They broke their promises, they abused the trust their spouse put in them to be where they are now.

No one forced them to go on that website, to use money to pay for anonymity. They are all grown-ups and when I agree there could be a couple of people who genuinely thought it was nothing but yet another dating website, all of them knew what they were willingly getting themselves into.

The very first reason why they are now facing with the prospect of losing everything, in addition to public humiliation, is them and their willingness to bet on their private life. So for them, the ride will be choppy because the question is: how far can you go in playing dumb, naïve, angry or outraged when you were the one who decided to secretly bet everything and throw the dice again when you had sworn to settle down? How far will the people sympathise or simply empathise with you?

I understand uncontrollable sexual urges of a one-time thing but to methodically pay, find a fake name, fill a profile and go on the pull, it’s more than just an urge. It’s compulsive cheating. I know I am sounding very self-righteous but haven’t they all agreed to marriage and instead of having the courage and honesty to break it, just lied and cheated?

Studying the economic and social background of these people, ready to pay for sex in a way, would be absolutely fascinating because I am pretty sure most of them come from backgrounds that have carved into their head a certain view of the world where marriage and emotional commitment in closely linked to social and financial status – cue Sam Rader.

Throughout my 20s, I have acquainted and slept with many of these, usually over 30 men:

  • The weaklings whose education has pushed towards a marriage in which they are not happy anymore but will never dare break or try to fix because they “have so much to lose now”.
  • The immature teenager pushing constantly toward anything socially forbidden and cheating provides the kick they need. The social taboo that is not punished by the law is too great to ignore before they eventually “take the fun out of cheating”…
  • The deeply unloved ones. The ones who are in what I call pre-historical relationship where marriage is only the legal and social bed on which the male, as a sperm bank, will fecundate the female, the baby factory, in order to provide  the country with its 2.7 babies it needs “to survive.”

There are many more and they all have in common their inability to take responsibility for their own life and happiness. They think they do by joining Ashley Madison but it came as a price and a fake name. And now, naming and shaming. Is it really happiness?

I have difficulties feeling empathy for these people for two reasons. The first one is physical: I find sickening the irony that these people who willingly jeopardised their private life are now asking for the right to be offended because it is facing troubles. If you want your sexual history to remain private, don’t put it on a website and the hands of strangers to begin with. It reminds me of the super injunctions taken by footballers to shut up the many people with whom they are cheating on their wife. Take the hit, you provided the bullet.

The second is because I do believe today’s society offers enough alternative to the single-minded view of marriage as the sole source of security and happiness for them to not have to rely on lies, deceit and alibis provided by a website in exchange for money. Yes, it is difficult to find these alternatives, I know. To fight against the principles of a society built on religion, to argue for the right to be together without the word “forever” and the prejudice of resenting the idea.

As a gay man who had to grow up in a world where marriage was forbidden, I had to find other ways to understand and picture long-time happiness but it does exist. However, it does take some courage (more than hiding one’s fucking strangers in motels) to stop always having a reason for cheating and to start facing the truth.

For me, there is a time in your life when you have to stop behaving like a teenager and blame the rest of the world for what is happening to you. When you are 15, you bow to pressure, cannot find it in you to say “no” and do try a cigarette, it is understandable but when you are 40, married for 15 years, you know you’re unhappy but the only decision you make is to lie and cheat, you cannot decently play the victim. You should have enough strength and baggage to take responsibility and not blame someone else.

I see people making these decisions everyday: some finding the strength to say to their spouse that they are not happy and want to divorce, some coming out and making a whole new life for themselves despite all the hurt and tears because they do understand that this is what it takes to be happy.

You cheat and you get caught? No matter the way (that’s another issue)…Well then, you just look down, take responsibility: beg for forgiveness or do make changes in your life. You especially do not go publicly to say that you are a victim of deceit and fakery when it all started because you couldn’t commit to truth and trust. No one is fooled. Yes, you are a victim when it comes to your address being published but when it comes to your squalid private life, you put it there and you bet on it, you just lost. No one truly has the cake and gets to eat it too. Except me, but I baked it.

Of love and men.

« I believe in love » is a sentence we hear a lot but I never really understood.

I can understand the belief in religion because somehow it weirdly seems more tangible to believe in something that does not exist. I have never seen spirits or God so I’ve never believed in them but I have seen love, it’s everywhere so what’s the point in saying that you “believe” in it. It’s like saying you believe in the sun or the trees.

That’s how I thought about it, until recently.

My grandfather died about a month ago. He was 83, had two terminal cancers and although he did not suffer physically, his physical decadence was an everyday psychological torture and humiliation for him.

When he died, I did not cry. Neither did my grandmother who smiled at me when I arrived at the hospital and where scores of family members were crying. She smiled at me and it made me feel so much better because we both rationalise death as liberation for the dead. Finally! He was free from the pain, the torments.

So I did not cry after losing the most important man of my life. Well I did cry but not because of his death. I spoke at the funerals and still did not cry. When I went home, I turned on Tumblr where I saw a gif of Looking where Kevin tells Patrick that “he’s fucking in love” with him. And only then did I cry. Between the tears, I went on Youtube to find just that moment and cried. Downloaded it, watched it, again and again and “cried, cried, cried over the love” of them.

This moment was an epiphany, the likes of the one who triggered my realising I was gay. It all started when I began questionnig men and our status in the society, the social and behavioural expectations put on us. My first question when I was about 12 was “Why is it that two girls who hold hands are just “friends” whereas two boys are “gay”?”

I questioned the many differences between the emotional strings men and women attached to their peers and realised one day, after years of observations, that I was a different kind of man, one that wanted to hold hands with another one, one that wanted to be as close to a man as I was to my (girl) best-friends, one that rejected the ideal of a man the boys were trying to emulate. I was a man that was going to tick the box “gay” for the rest of my life and I was okay with it because my family always knew and accepted it because “there is nothing to accept nor reject” as they say.

That crying over a couple of second scene of Looking made me realise something about me. I don’t cry at death, I don’t cry at pain, I don’t cry at anger because I rationalise them, I understand them, they are no stranger to me, I am ready from them.

I do cry at love gestures, grand or small. I noticed that the videos that always make me cry are the surprise proposals, the surprise homecomings, the genuine wedding speeches.The genuine, the true, the passionate, the explosive, the romantic love gestures. The love songs are throwing me over the edge: You look so fine by Garbage, To have not to hold by Madonna, Halo by Beyoncé, Between two Lungs by Florence and the Machine…

Crying is my way of shielding myself against and within love because I don’t know anything about it. It’s a stranger to me. I don’t think I have ever genuinely fell in love because I did not believe in it, I did not trust it. I know now how extremely unhappy this lack of belief in love can make someone.

This is now where my life is going to change again. This is where I am going to accept myself, not a gay man but as a man who has feelings he needs to believe in to be happy.

It really all started during yet another sleepless, anxiety-filled night where I, as I always do during such nights, got up and decided to write. I have been doing that since I was 11 or 12, not to be published, not to be read but to occupy and soothe my anxieties with creativity.

And on that night, about six months ago, I made the decision to create a gay couple who are living the romantic love. Not the sweet kind but the hard kind, the one that consumes you, the ones changes you forever, the one who runs you over again and again. That one nor words neither actions can really soothe and satisfy.

And after reading yet another article about the clichés of love, I decided that they would be cliché. They would be the clichéest couple that ever there was because I am sick and tired with the Westworld-wide cynism about love and everything attached to it. Everything is cliché today. Proposals needs to be creative, honeymoons need to be adventurous. No more of a knee down and Paris. “How common!”

When have we become so cynical about love?

Cynism is fine and I enjoy it and practice it greatly when it’s funny, when it’s all tainted delicately with irony with a blunt of touch of sarcasm but the one surrounding love is just spiteful, blasé and negative. It teaches us that maturity goes with the moment when you stop believing the fairytales-like love and be more realistic. In a nutshell: it doesn’t exist.

I am a very stubborn and self-determined person who is hardly influenced by anything from the outside unless it is well put, well thought through and well argumented. Except for love. I have been ready to believe all the worst I could hear and see about love. I have been putting it down, crushing it at the first occasion, finding all reasons and excuses to dismiss it, ridicule it, be angry at it and ignore it.

It became clear that I was my worst nightmare: a man who was a product of our society where men are said to be solely driven by economic fulfilment. Ask a woman about the most important day in her life, she will tell you either her wedding or the birth of her children. Ask a man older than 40, he will tell you about his promotion or finally buying his dream car (only money-related dreams are allowed in maturity). I am product of a society where men must be rational, economic animals whereas women are their emotional, foolish love-driven sidekicks.

My mother likes to think I hate her married lover because I am jealous. No, I hate him because he’s nothing but the stereotype the society is still pushing younger men to emulate: a successful banker at the Rothschild’s Bank with a company car, a wife and two kids to show off at business dinners. A man who is overworking in order to climb the professional ladder and who loves by interest, which is what I used to believe about all men. As far as I was concerned, men were incapable of love, were some kind of love-disabled species who yet understood it was a necessity for their survival to fake it.

When I asked my mother why he was not divorcing his wife instead of cheating with countless women (he seems to have settled with my mother for the past few years), she said because he can’t. The fact is that his love life is nothing but an instrument to maintain his social status: he says “I love you” to his wife, he has sex with his wife, he stays married to her making her believe he is the same man she married decades ago because his social and economic status depend on it. He was taught that some boxes need to be ticked to succeed and impress his peers so he ticks them without believing in them: wife, kids, career and car.

I long thought that when women are driven by love, men are driven by their honour, how respectable they are in our society. When my cousin told me he had his heart broken, my first thought, that I kept for myself, was “You liar! Just give up with that ridiculous excuse! Your heart is not broken, just your honour because she dumped you. That’s why you say you want to get back with her. Not because you love her but because you want to save your honour by being the one who did the dumping.”

And how many men are talking like this? How many men are doing this? “

How many of those men are shown to be the norm?” is the real question.

I tried and typed the word “husband” on Google a couple of month ago to find it was mainly attached to “cheating”. The tabloids are filled with stories of famous men cheating and allegedly cheating because that’s what powerful men do and people are ready to believe all these stories without a doubt. In France, we have totally interiorised the idea that a power comes with a set of mistresses. And I have interiorised that, as far as men were concerned, love is irrelevant.

Between 20 and 25, I took great pleasure sleeping with straight married men with kids because it comforted me in this idea. I went as extreme as asking them to tell me about their wedding day in details as I was kneeling between their legs. They seem to take pleasure in it too: the sin was too great. Was it some kind of death to them? Killing the man they pretended to be as liberation, even just for a couple of minutes?

Personally, I never thought it would have destroyed me so much. I have never trusted a man to love so I have never bothered trying to date, to see anyone because I knew I would be hurt and left betrayed and alone at the end. I rather spent 12 years, observing, listening, studying the people around me to find out more. I needed to rationalise it. Love was nothing but a psychological study I was conducting.

This is when it became apparent that is not just society but also my parents who marked me. An immature father who has never grown up and was only tender to my mother when he felt she was pulling away from him and he was about to lose the comfort of  the married life and her money offered.  But also a mother who, after knowing him for 25 years and marrying him twice has been left blasée and unable to believe in forever. She now has a very dry view of relationship, very blunt.

She accepts love and is very in touch with her feelings but when my brother was dating his girlfriend and was talking about children and long-time life in some foreign country, she replied “Well, that’s if you’re still together”. She was not being mean or anything, it just came out the way she believes it and she doesn’t believe in love anymore. She believe in passion, she believes in feelings but she doesn’t believe that two persons can love forever.

She is not the only one: how many time do we hear “mismatch” or “I gave them two weeks” or “It’s not going to last” when two people start dating?

What is wrong with people?
Why are we all believing in lies, deceit, irrelevance when it comes to relationships?
Why can’t we believe in love?

And I understood. I understand what it is now to believe in love. It is to believe that it exists. I believe in its power that can be stronger than anything. I know…”how cliché!”…Well, yes! So?

Everywhere, from our most cherished members of family to the national press and the wider society love is taking a beating by people who have stopped believing in it and whose disappointment needs to be expressed by forcing their open cynism us.

I, for once, am absolutely fed up and tired with it. I felt I was becoming a psychopath when it came to men: I was physically attracted to what I despised and feared the most. My pulsions turned aggressive as well as sexual and in fear of anything bad happening, I kept away from them. At 30, I found out that I wasted the last 10 years of my life trying to prove myself that I did not need a man.

Today, I don’t want to listen to all that crap about how love is nothing but a social invention serving social peace and prudish religion purpses.

I want more! I want hope and something to look forward to. I want to believe. To believe in love. To believe in men. To believe in their genuine ability to love like my brother is loving my sister-in-law. Like more and more men of my age and younger are loving. I want to believe in these men. The ones who, like me, are looking at their aloof fathers and men such as my mother’s lover as a kind of man that should be left in the past.

Call me childish, naïve, stupid, blind, look down on me, ridicule me as much as you want but I want to believe because one day, another man is going to open his heart and tell me he loves me and this time, I want to be ready to believe him, unlike the last time when I could hear nothing but a lie.

So today, I believe in love.