They are shocked, shocked in Paris right now about Gabriel Matzneff. Who knew this award-winning French author was a pedophile who had sexual relations with children of both sexes? Er, anyone who read his books or listened to him speak publicly, that’s who, but Matzneff has suddenly become problematic now that one of his victims has forced the country to deal with its pedophilia problem.
Matzneff is hardly alone, the New York Times’ Norimitsu Onishi reports. He had lots of enablers, if not colleagues, in pedophilia:
The French writer Gabriel Matzneff never hid the fact that he engaged in sex with girls and boys in their early teens or even younger. He wrote countless books detailing his insatiable pursuits and appeared on television boasting about them. “Under 16 Years Old,” was the title of an early book that left no ambiguity.
Still, he never spent a day in jail for his actions or suffered any repercussion. Instead, he won acclaim again and again. Much of France’s literary and journalism elite celebrated him and his work for decades. Now 83, Mr. Matzneff was awarded a major literary prize in 2013 and, just two months ago, one of France’s most prestigious publishing houses published his latest work.
But the publication, on Thursday, of an account by one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, has suddenly fueled an intense debate in France over its historically lax attitude toward sex with people who are underage. It has also shone a particularly harsh light on a period during which some of France’s leading literary figures and newspapers — names as big as Foucault, Sartre, Libération and Le Monde — aggressively promoted the practice as a form of human liberation, or at least defended it.
A day after the publication of Ms. Springora’s book, “Le Consentement,” or “Consent,” which sold out quickly at many Paris bookstores, the fallout continued. Prosecutors in Paris announced that after “analyzing” its contents, they had opened an investigation into the case and would also look for other victims in and out of France.
Matzneff “seduced” Springora when she was just 14 years old, according to her account, after being introduced by her mother. She assumed that they were in love together, right up until she discovered Matzneff’s notes on his sexual conquests of other children, including on tours of Southeast Asia. This would have been in the late 1980s, when sex trafficking of children on such tours had just begun to pique attention in the West.
How did Matzneff hide in plain sight for so long? He didn’t need to hide at all. France’s 1968 cultural revolution liberated pedophiles to prey on children, a predation which turned out to be disturbingly popular among the Left for a disturbingly long time, Onishi recounts:
Caught now in the crosscurrents of France’s changing attitudes toward sex, Mr. Matzneff is the product and longtime beneficiary of France’s May 68 movement, the social revolution started in 1968 by students and unions against France’s old order.
With the slogan, “It’s forbidden to forbid,” the movement rebelled against authority and fought against imperialism, capitalism, racism, sexism and homophobia. Some also argued for abolishing age-of-consent laws, saying that doing so would liberate children from the domination of their parents and allow them to be full, sexual beings. …
Thinkers on the left, like Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, spoke in defense of the practice, or came to the defense of men accused of engaging in sex with people below the age of consent in France — which was and remains 15.
Libération, the newspaper co-founded by Sartre, championed pedophiles as a discriminated minority and ran personal ads by adults seeking children for sex.
Disgusting. This is a case in which the perverse, politically and otherwise, hijacked perhaps-legitimate grievances to reorder society to cater to their own depraved appetites. In this scenario, it’s no small wonder that Matzneff felt justified in bragging about his exploits in a book titled “Under 16 Years Old.” The real surprise is that his publisher still felt comfortable republishing it in 2005 — and that it raised no eyebrows at that time.
This leftist pedophilia normalization was not limited to France, either. A decade ago, Der Spiegel ran a shocking history of free-love communes in Germany that arose around the same time that widely and openly practiced adult-child sex. Titled “How the Left Took Things Too Far,” the article exposed the German 1968 Movement as a cover for pedophilia and abuse as well:
It has since faded into obscurity, but the members of the 1968 movement and their successors were caught up in a strange obsession about childhood sexuality. It is a chapter of the movement’s history which is never mentioned in the more glowing accounts of the era. On this issue, the veterans of the late ’60s student movement seem to have succumbed to acute amnesia; an analysis of this aspect of the student revolution would certainly be worthwhile. …
The left has its own history of abuse, and it is more complicated than it would seem at first glance. When leaders of the student movement of the late 1960s are asked about it, they offer hesitant or evasive answers. “At the core of the movement of 1968, there was in fact a lack of respect for the necessary boundaries between children and adults. The extent to which this endangerment led to abuse cases is unclear,” Wolfgang Kraushaar, a political scientist and chronicler of the movement, writes in retrospect.
A lack of respect for boundaries is putting it mildly. One could also say that the boundaries were violently torn open.
At least the Germans had the good sense to be embarrassed by this rather than spending decades celebrating it. This is the context in which notorious predators such as Roman Polanski grew and flourished, as well as the generation or two that succeeded him. It also explains why the European Left — and the Hollywood Left, for that matter — spent decades defending Polanski and hiding him from US law enforcement. It’s no great mystery, with this in mind, that Jeffrey Epstein focused some of his recruiting efforts in France, where the culture groomed children with the expectation of being prey.
That leftist cultural warp allowed predators from all across the political spectrum to operate openly. Matzneff isn’t even himself a leftist, although as French columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry explains, they had his back — both culturally and personally. That explains how, in this age of #MeToo and post-Epstein, did Matzneff still manage to win awards — to the extent that it’s explicable at all:
Though the facts about pedophilia are most arresting, the other revelation-of-something-everyone-knew here is that the French literary scene is a giant web of patronage networks and back-scratching. Matzneff's rent was paid by Pierre Bergé, the left-wing philanthropist.
— PEG (@pegobry) January 7, 2020
("Why don't you write more for French outlets, PEG?" Oh, I don't know…)
— PEG (@pegobry) January 7, 2020
Oof. Want to bet they actually read next year’s submissions?
Springora has now forced France — and others — to confront fifty years of celebrating pedophiles and predators. It’s a brave step forward, as there will be many people in the cultural establishment who will want to protect themselves from the accountability that will follow from it. Hopefully others victimized by Matzneff and others like him will join Springora and demand answers for how the French cultural revolution turned them into toys for darlings of the Left.