April 24, 2013

France: Same sex marriage v. vive la différence

Many American liberals have been baffled why the French, whom they admire for being so European, have not been terribly fashion-forward about gay marriage. In fact, the strongest public resistance to gay marriage (e.g., mass marches) has come in France.

Why?

Here's my theory. The French, especially the Provencal troubadors, led a revolution in world culture a thousand years ago in elevating to the highest cultural prestige male-female romance. This started out as largely an idealization of heterosexual romance between bachelors and women who had to marry somebody else for dynastic reasons (e.g., Lancelot and Guinevere), but soon evolved into an overwhelming cultural endorsement of the love marriage, which is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Western Civilization of which the French have always been in the forefront. It's not a coincidence that Paris has always been the dream capital of the feminine imagination.

In contrast, in the preceding Greek and (to a lesser extent) Roman ancient world, marriage was more functional and less emotion-laden, while romance was culturally constructed to be mostly pederastic homosexuality. This is not to say that husbands and wives weren't often deeply in love in the Ancient World, just that the the most prestigious high culture tended to endorse homosexual pederasty over heterosexuality as the most favored medium of romance.

See Plato's Symposium for some jaw-dropping stuff on what erotic love meant to the Dead White European Males in classical Athens: basically, bedding boys. Their view: A strong, aristocratic man should not waste his deepest feelings on some mere woman when he could be mentoring a beardless youth in exchange for sex.

We are constantly told that homosexuality has always been oppressed and forced into a life in the shadows (as Sen. Graham might say on a different topic). Except, that's not true. In the institutional memory of both Judaism and Christianity (and perhaps Islam), which goes back to Persian and Greco-Roman times, homosexuality was what strong men did to weaker males with the full approval of society.

So, it's not terribly surprising that the French should feel more deeply than the rest of us about defending from the current fashion for same sex marriage their greatest contribution to humanity: the celebration at the highest levels of art and of cultural prestige of vive la différence.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

See Plato's Symposium for some jaw-dropping stuff on what erotic love meant

Heh. I see what you did there.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

"We are constantly told that homosexuality has always been oppressed and forced into a life in the shadows (as Sen. Graham might say on a different topic)."

You're not suggesting Sen. Graham is anything other than a normal, 50-something heterosexual man who never married, are you?

Steve Sailer said...

Nah, that's not how it worked.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if that is true for modern Italians and Greeks. The Greek orthodox church in Greece opposes gay marriage more than the American one. I think the Nordic German Countries except gay marriage the most. As for romance, its true the Romans were not into romance but there are remarks on tombstones that some Romans have affection. In fact, the Eastern Roman Empire had the Emperor Justinian who married Theodora with a very checked passed by having the law changed by his uncle Justin, one of the big romances of the ancient World. i don't thinks its courty love but that France are Catholics and Greeks are Orthodox are why they opposed Gay marriage. The liberal Protestant Countries were the supporters of gay marriage first.

Glossy said...

During the Roman period the Greeks did write hetero romance novels.

I'm assuming that ancient homosex was suppressed by Christianity. This would have happened long before the troubadours. The Roman Empire became officially Christian in the 4th century AD.

If people marry for love, if the young are allowed to choose for themselves, then beauty is selected for. After many centuries of such selection we would expect women from cultures where marriages are arranged to end up envying the beauty of women from non-arranging cultures. And this is in fact the case.

Chubby Ape said...

The crowd protesting last night outside France's National Assembly against the passage of the gay marriage law attacked the media and made them run for safety behind the riot police. You can see that in the second video:

http://www.fdesouche.com/367536-des-journalistes-du-petit-journal-courses-aux-invalides-video

The crowd calls the media lefties and collaborators along with other things.

Cail Corishev said...

I don't know what the Greeks did or didn't do. But I wonder sometimes what our descendants a couple millennia from now will think when they look back at our popular entertainment.

If all they had to go on were an assortment of surviving TV shows, they'd have to conclude that homosexuality was far more prevalent than it really is. They'd believe that everyone had homosexual friends and that most people experimented with it at the least. That's what our artists are recording for posterity, after all.

Anyway, your main point makes sense. The French think they invented romance, and romance (maybe even more obviously than marriage) only works between a man and a woman. Their great contribution is being discarded to score political points against tradition, so maybe it's not surprising that they're miffed.

Anonymous said...

Herodotus flatly stated they picked up man-boy love from the persians

Mark Plus said...

Speaking of dominant Roman men and their squeezes, refer to this famous restored scene in the film Spartacus:

http://youtu.be/NJ0VSmkebwk

Anonymous said...

Funny how the NYT headline was 'france approves same sex marriage' - amazing how western msm is shaping the narrative - does anyone have any idea why, it seems to me since the internet MSM has actually dug its heals and become more bias...

Anonymous said...

umm Odessy, penelope and all that?

Anonymous said...

Realistically, there isn't a huge difference in cultural mores between the U.S. and Western Europe.

58 percent of French support gay marriage, as opposed to 53 percent of Americans. 53 percent of French oppose gay adoption, as opposed to 36 percent of Americans. So one could argue that, to the extent there's difference, the French are more conservative on homosexuality.

On the other hand, only 9 percent of French attend church regularly, as opposed to 24 percent of Americans. However, that's not a huge difference, especially when you consider how much less formal American Protestant and Megachurches are in comparison to those stuffy French Catholics. This is a serious point, as religious scholars have speculated that the large number of religious options in the U.S. (Catholic vs Protestant, Megachurch vs storfront church, black church vs Latino church, gay-friendly vs fundamentalist) explain why Americans attend more often than Europeans. It's like eating out more often if you move from rural Alaska to NYC.

I'll also add that 25 percent of Italians are regular church attenders, but it's not like Italy is known as a land of religious fundamentalism.




Anonymous said...

Steve, good point about homosexual men abusing younger boys. Homosexual men are often thought of as victims, but in much of the ancient world, they were active aggressors.

Even today, homosexual pedastry is widespread in much of the Muslim Middle East, especially Pathan-dominate Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. A campaign to discourage homosexuality and encourage male-female relations would do a lot to make life nicer in the Middle East.

Beyond pedophilia, another disadvantage of homosexuality is that it increases the risk of contracting STIs/STDs.

Anonymous said...

We should also point out that the anti-homosex marriage movement is a youth movement, compose of the upper middle class young people from the Catholic high schools and colleges, various youth groups, some monarchists elements, all acting in rejection of the 1970's mores.

Anonymous said...

Denis de Rougement called he said that Mickey Kaus probally has the better business model. Maybe you and Kaus could work out an arangement where he reveals the mysteries of specialization to you.

The Symposium really isn't that jaw dropping at all seeing how as about a 1/4 of it is taken up with Alcabides talking about how Socrates wouldn't take advantage of him sexually. Heck like 14 books into Genesis and people are trying to gay rape angels.

Anonymous said...

Steve you might want to get your spam filter fixed. I'm a robot and it still lets me post. Plus it eats all my good posts about the Scots Irish:

William Gaunt said...

I don't know about this characterization of the Greeks and Romans. Love, or, at least, sexual/connubial relations between man and woman were very common in Greek and Roman poetry and drama, whereas homosexuality was very rarely represented in those forms. Aeneas and Dido, Paris and Helen, Hector and Andromeda, Oedipus and Jocasta, Theseus and Ariadne, Orpheus and Eurydice, etc. Aristophanes actually made fun of Athenian homosexuals in some of his comedies.

Western love poetry has its roots in ancient Roman models, which were overwhelmingly heterosexual. Catullus wrote of Lesbia, Ovid wrote of Corinna, Sextus Propertius wrote of Cynthia.

Even Plato, in the Laws, a dialogue that was written much later than the Symposium, recommended that homosexuality ought to be punishable by death.

William Gaunt said...

And Aristophanes also wrote a play, Lysistrata, about Athenian and Spartan women who attempt to end the Peloponnesian War by witholding sex from their husbands.

Anonymous said...

If we were allowed to talk about whether it was a good idea to make homosexuality normative, those 18-29 year olds who 70% support "gay marriage" would know that homosexuals like and desire pederasty and always have. The "Modern Family" homosexual couples are real unusual in the history of homosexuality.

The next thing up is not polygamy, its lowering the age of consent and they've already been grooming society for it with the stuff they insist on bringing into the schools. There is no other reason to have elementary school kids reading about "King and King" and "Daddy's Roommate" or to have high school clubs called PULSE - People United Love Serves Everyone. The plan is to make boys conducive to homosexual sex as adolescents.

marcus said...

"Western love poetry has its roots in ancient Roman models, which were overwhelmingly heterosexual. Catullus wrote of Lesbia, Ovid wrote of Corinna, Sextus Propertius wrote of Cynthia.
"

yes. In fact the Eutruscans, preceding the Romans, commonly represented the husband/wife dyad and affectionate repose. Writings celebrating "romantic" love was also characteristic. I think the homos of Greece may be overrated in their influence over the masses of people, even well educated, affluent, cultured people. Sort of like today.

Anonymous said...

Meh. Interesting post but I'm not totally convinced. I doubt such mass demonstrations mean the same thing in France that they would in the Anglosphere. When the protest-loving French take to the streets, it may not indicate much genuine fervor.

Also, PC is largely an Anglo/Nordic thing. Not only are the French our cultural rivals, they've generally gone their own way since before the reformation. Back when Christendom was more than a figure of speech, the French church was pretty independent, at times to the point of open hostility towards Rome. Today, the contemporary French play the Tito to our Stalin.

In addition to France's stubborn independent streak, French culture itself likely resistant to PC for structural reasons. The French seem to lack the protestant moralizing impulse that converts public correctness and virtue into status. Here in the states the discourse is happily policed by a volunteer army of strivers looking to assure themselves of their own place within a structurally protestant status system.

I am sadly ignorant of the intricacies of class in France, but would hazard that a continental class system obviates the need for American style reliance on ideological shibboleths as status markers.

-The Judean People's Front

Luke Lea said...

Glassy said: "If people marry for love, if the young are allowed to choose for themselves, then beauty is selected for. After many centuries of such selection we would expect women from cultures where marriages are arranged to end up envying the beauty of women from non-arranging cultures. And this is in fact the case."

Astute observation. Helps explain the shiksa thing maybe.

Anonymous said...

Except, that's not true. In the institutional memory of both Judaism and Christianity (and perhaps Islam), homosexuality was what strong men did to weaker males with the full approval of society.

Yeah but none of these homo tolerant cultures had gay marriage. That speaks volumes. I suspect that the French are simply reacting to the Socialist over reach. Good for them it's sad that Americans can't even muster a fraction of the protest

John Derbyshire said...

The French may have started it, but the Germans were close behind.

Anonymous said...

Chubby Ape,

Thanks for posting the vid. Maybe there's hope for the yoof after all.

-The Judean People's Front

carol said...

I thought Dennis Prager wrote the most illuminating treatment of this subject.
http://tinyurl.com/3ut9uo4

Anonymous said...

JPF, if French cultures is so resistant to PC, why do they have a big African and Arab problem, cars set alight, etc.? You would think they'd have airdropped them all to Algeria by now.

as said...

In the institutional memory of both Judaism and Christianity (and perhaps Islam), homosexuality was what strong men did to weaker males with the full approval of society.

Are you sure?

Maybe there's just a lot of homosexuality in the place where these religions originated?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: JPF, if French cultures is so resistant to PC, why do they have a big African and Arab problem, cars set alight, etc.? You would think they'd have airdropped them all to Algeria by now.

I didn't say that France had nationalist laws, a nationalist government, or even a nationalist culture. I merely claimed that PC held less sway over there as a social phenomenon. To my knowledge, they lack our strict but informal speech code of all pablum, all the time.

-The Judean People's Front

Space Ghost said...

You're not suggesting Sen. Graham is anything other than a normal, 50-something heterosexual man who never married, are you?

Nope, totally straight

David said...

The French act Frenchy? Next you'll be saying Chechens act Checheny.

Have you no shame, sir, at long last?

Derb: "close behind"?

Anonymous said...

The French, like Americans, have a lot of stupid ideas about human nature. They believed they could assimilate their North African Arab and West African black immigrants. It didn't work that way.

Unlike Americans, however, the French aren't clap happy about this at all. They're critical of the Arabs and Africans.

To be fair to the French, there are two huge problems to their immigrants.

1. Super high Muslim fertility.
2. Extremely high rates of cross border arranged marriage.

It's tough to deal with that. If you restrict the right to marry a foreign spouse, you hurt non-Muslim French too.... and if you target Muslims, you violate your tradition of color-blind policies.

The French actually tried to deport their Muslim guestworkers in the 1970s, but the bureaucrats refused to cooperate with the government.

If France had brought immigrants from somewhere else, it'd have been easier to slow migration and immigrant fertility. They got unlucky.

At least the French, unlike us, don't encourage immigration. They've tried, unsuccessfully, to close loopholes. They've also done a lot to clamp down on H1B type immigration, so at least the white collar jobs are safe.

In immigration, US<France<Germany.

The French could be better, but they could also be worse.

Also, unlike the US, the French support high native-born fertility too.

Anonymous said...

Sailer has excellent culture post here. The commenters are dropping the ball on this one. Retarded and irrelevant comments all around. Wtf does the Orthodox church have to do with any of this? What's the point of mentioning Penelope? Also, to the poster above, Herodotus said it the other way around, the Persians learned it from the Greeks. And Aristophanes was making fun of passive homosexuals, not of what Sailer is talking about. You're missing the point. Only the bottoms were seen as effeminate and reviled. It's not gay if you're on top.

Sailer's readers are made "uncomfortable" by this post...

The only way Steve is wrong is that the pederastic romance as based on domination of weaker by stronger was not the high-class Athenian fashion. It was the Roman fashion when they preyed on slaves, etc. At least among aristos in Greek culture, it was the younger who was seen as superior (even divinity...see Hadrian turning his favorite into a god with an international cult), and was not penetrated (if you were penetrated ever in your life you lost voting rights...even if you were raped). The idea that this relationship is based on domination is a twisted Foucault S&M fantasy (embraced by feminists btw). The high-class Athenian pederastic affair was not "exploitation."

Ancient Greeks and Romans would have laughed at modern gays though. Modern gays are generally people with a mental illness and/or developmental disorder.

By the ancient distinction (which is also the distinction in much of the third world today), maybe the majority of modern men are fags. If you're passive with a woman instead of a man, you're still a big homo. Ancient Greeks and Romans would have considered SWPL flaming homos. Many of the posters here probably as well.

fondatori said...

I'm not sure about that. It seems to me that ideas themselves are taken more seriously in France (or at least the idea of having ideas) than here. Being proud of ideas they naturally discuss them in the normal forum for French politics which would be protests and street fights.

Frankly I can't think of a cause with less intellectual content than pro-gay-marriage so it doesn't surprise me that people who see themselves as having ideas would naturally be strongly against it.

Its pretty much the same here where traditional marriage advocates churn out dense philosophical works and provide all kinds of facts and figures to suppor their cause and meanwhile pro-gay-marriage is enforced by facebook comments about homophobia.

Peter the Shark said...

Steve, I think you have it backwards. The French are actually far more pragmatic about marriage than Americans. The troubador tradition celebrated romantic love, true, but typically that love had nothing to do with getting married. Romantic weddings and marriages for love are an Anglo-Saxon creation. Because the French are more tolerant of homosexuality than Americans, and more committed to the idea of marriage and family as a social institution rather than a vehicle for romantic self-actualization, it is easy to see why a lot of French find the idea of gay marriage ridiculous. If a man wants to have sex with another man he can just cheat on his wife, what's the big deal? It is also true that leftists in Europe have for some time been far more vocal about denigrating heterosexual marriage as a "patriarchal institution" than American leftists have been (many European "progressives" don't get married on principle) so it is fairly obvious to French conservatives that the real goal of the left is destroying the institution of marriage not "extending the franchise".

Anonymous said...

"I think the Nordic German Countries except gay marriage the most."

The PC culture war is a media war driven primarily by the MSM and therefore disproportionately by the part of the MSM based in America. Because of that it's disproportionately driven through the English language and so the effects are more or less proportional to how anglophone a country is.

.
"The crowd protesting last night outside France's National Assembly against the passage of the gay marriage law attacked the media and made them run for safety behind the riot police."

Quite so - very wise of them. The MSM are almost as destructive as the banks. Maybe even worse.

.
"Even Plato, in the Laws, a dialogue that was written much later than the Symposium, recommended that homosexuality ought to be punishable by death."

Yeah but didn't they define homosexuality as going with a man old enough to grow a beard or taking the submissive poition after the age where you could grow a beard? Something like that anyway - very age related.

.
"JPF, if French cultures is so resistant to PC, why do they have a big African and Arab problem, cars set alight, etc.? You would think they'd have airdropped them all to Algeria by now."

Part of what's happening is about the MSM's culture war and part is about the banks' cheap labor war. France may have less of the first than the more anglophone countries but they still have the second.

Eric Rasmusen said...

It's a sign of the success of the gay movement that they've convinced people that the only possible reason someone might object to homosexuality is that they believe in divine revelation and are either Orthodox Jewish or conservative Christian. Not so. Take the Assyrians of 1100 BC:

I.20. If a man have intercourse with his brother-in-arms, they shall turn him into a eunuch.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/1075assyriancode.asp


It's not the death penalty, but it's not a slap on the wrist either.

NOTA said...

One thing I've found really fascinating about the gay marriage struggle in France is that Spanish media have been reporting big protests against gay marriage, with occasional clashes with the police, but I have seen almost no mention of this in US media. (There was a little discussion of the violent clashes in US media once gay marriage was passed, but little or no mention I could find of the large peaceful protests for a couple weeks now against gay marriage.)

As I've said before, I favor gay marriage, so in some sense, I'm on the same side as the American media editors who have decided Americans don't need to see those large popular protests against it in France. But having media sources filter out something like that is a really spectacularly bad idea, on all sorts of levels!

Rohan Swee said...

Peter the Shark: Because the French are more tolerant of homosexuality than Americans, and more committed to the idea of marriage and family as a social institution rather than a vehicle for romantic self-actualization, it is easy to see why a lot of French find the idea of gay marriage ridiculous.

Yes. I never talked to anyone with long experience of France who didn't point out that "the French are very, very conservative about family life", no matter how loosey-goosey they've always seemed to foreigners in their sexual mores. Family law appears to much less individualistic than ours. (I was surprised to be told, e.g. that you can't disinherit your kids.)

It is also my understanding (more knowledgeable commenters please correct me) that surrogacy, for example, is flat-out not allowed, and that "assisted reproduction" has been restricted to "traditional" couples. No "Heather has two mommies" stuff. ("Un papa! Une mama!") I believe the gay marriage legislation loosens up a lot of this stuff, too, which is really pissing off a lot of people, secular as much as religious.

James O'Meara said...

"So, it's not terribly surprising that the French should feel more deeply than the rest of us about defending from the current fashion for same sex marriage their greatest contribution to humanity: the celebration at the highest levels of art and of cultural prestige of vive la différence."

Thanks, Frenchie, but no thanks. As always, Aryan Culture = pederasty, Dark Ages = Judeo-Christian family values. Athens vs. Omaha. Anon 10:05 is so right on that I have to point out he's not me. See my recent book, The Homo and the Negro for more. As for Islam, see John Bradley's Behind the Veil of Vice; especially good refuting this "strong vs. weak" nonsense, as if the cultured circles of Athens or Mecca were Oz.

Whiskey said...

I would say the French are divided. The real power rests with those intent on PC-ification of the West. That's why Hollande was elected, that is who dominates the media, the ENArchs, the bureaucracy, etc. All hard-left, wanting to make everything into the Colors of Benetton, itself a product of that culture. Which is very, very Catholic.

As non-Nordic and non-English as say, the French obsession and worship of Grace Jones, or Robert DeNiro's parade of Black girlfriends, which is very stereotypically Italian (the Italians also love Black people and the Amanda Knox affair was a search for a White scapegoat to excuse two Black perps).

In my view the desperation of the anti-gay marriage folks (such as the self-name Frigide Barjot, a play on Brigitte Bardot) is that gay marriage equals women as disposable objects. Which bodes poorly for women as they lose sex appeal. If you are an older woman, a society based on transient power relationships (the Ancients view of homosexuality) and attractiveness (the future of sex/romance with the death of the old traditional nuclear family) -- older women are basically non-persons with no status, power, or any real belonging to society.

However, the real power belongs to Hollande and the ENArchs. And they want this, making France into say the Roman Empire in the West circa 409 AD.

And it will be a race between those destroyed by confidence and yes power and empire (ordinary men the most, secondarily women past all attractiveness and trapped in lower middle class money); and those who get advantages, the soon-to-be wives of guys like Tamerlane Tsarnaev, and so on. Who get at least a guy who will beat and dominate her, if not Fifty Shades of Grey style at least he'll do it.

as said...

If people marry for love, if the young are allowed to choose for themselves, then beauty is selected for. After many centuries of such selection we would expect women from cultures where marriages are arranged to end up envying the beauty of women from non-arranging cultures. And this is in fact the case.

I don't think so. Some arranged marriage cultures have good looking people. Some arranged marriage cultures have ugly people.

Some love marriage cultures involve ugly people.

Agnostic on akinokure writes about beautiful women a lot. It has something to do with mode of subsistence.

How important is it that you marry for money or good family?

Anonymous said...

Steve, I'm really surprised to see you repeating this hogwash about pederasty. You are confusing Plato with the entire Greek and Roman world. Heterosexual romantic love was of course a standard, even if marriages of utility occurred, as they do in all times and places. It is the rationale for much of the action in both the Iliad (Paris-Hellen) and the Odyssey (Ulysses-Penelope). How could it be otherwise--the Greeks were humans! The fact pederasty has to be argued for in a larger metaphysical conception of reality should tell you it was not the standard of the time.