Why do you ensure that the new feminism is puritanical and retrograde?
A prostitute and friend of mine once said to me that feminism was a great idea until it came to power. I think it's a good summary of what I'm concerned about in contemporary mainstream feminism. Its main goal is not how to free women or assure the gender equality but to rule and maintain its status. And the thing is that fear has always been a great tool of power – if you make people afraid, they are more prone to obey. Since my first book in 2009, I see mainstream feminism as one of the most blatant proof of the failure of sexual revolution, which was not, in theory, only a sexual liberation (you are free to fuck whoever and whenever you want) but also a liberation from sex (sex as no burden to the soul, especially for women). But with mainstream feminism, the « stain » of sex has never been so salient – in the old days, we punished « bad » women (a stigma that remains with prostitutes), now we punish « bad » men, but the motto is the same : no soul can be freed from the burden of sex. #Metoo is very exemplar of that trend I saw growing on the feminist blogosphere since decades : our first « silence breaker » in France was Sandra Müller, a journalist who said she was sucked into a « spatio-temporal abyss » because a man told her he wanted to make her come all night – with no threat whatsoever and the guy apologized the day after the incident (Müller now faces defamation charges). What message do we convey when we say this ? That a sexual comment has the power to annihilate you ? It's very victorian – women are delicate flowers who have to be put under glass because the world is full of dangers for their « purity ». And it's an old and sorry trick.
In your view, what are the main points that the new feminism uses to undertake "witch hunts"?
Again, a politics of fear. The day after our manifest, some mainstream feminists wrote a counter- letter to accuse us to be defenders of rapists and paedophiles. A former Minister of Women's Rights even said on a very popular radio show that our letter was an excuse to rape in fancy clothes. That's text-book agit-prop : obscure the facts with fear, make people react and not think. Dig trenches between friends and foes, against which everything is allowed. Here, we found again the « stain », the defilement logic : your « ennemies » are not people, they are existential threats, so they must be sought and destroyed.
What is the position the manifesto signers have regarding the sorority concept and the idea that a woman who claims to have been harassed could never lie?
I can't speak for all the signatories, I only speak for me. To me, sorority displays the religious (or "mystic" as Bertrand Russell said) nature of the feminism I despise. When you don't want to understand, let alone change, reality, but to build cults, tribes, ministries where you stay among clones and hunt the heretics. For that, you need a dogma and a gospel - the utopia of the sorority is one of these unfalsifiable categories. And its goes hand in hand with the « believe all victims » mantra, as women were one big and monolithic category of pure angels absolutely devoid of bad intentions. People can lie about being dead to fool the police or insurances, but no woman can lie about being « inappropriately » touched or talked ? Give me a break ! It's a simple law of supply and demand – when victimhood becomes a status currency, you have all the incentives of the world for lying about being one. And now's the time. The backlash will be ugly, but sadly predictible.
What do you think would be truly empowering for a Western woman today?
The same as ever : to have the means to sustain your own existence. Don't depend on anyone and the rest will follow. And as a rationalist feminist, I will add Nullius in verba : Take nobody's word for it. Always check facts and practice critical thinking, as the search for the truth is the best venture ever, whether or not you have a vagina.
Version originale de l'interview parue dans Clarin, le 30 juin 2019