Yesterday, I wrote about France as an authoritarian country - this by way of putting the Burka ban in context.
As if to confirm my analysis, I read on today's Guardian website that France's government is now planning to criminalise men who pay for sex. This is, of course, really an attack on women.
Many years ago, France criminalised brothels but continued to permit street prostitution, thereby making the lives of working prostitutes more dangerous and also making it easier for men to control and coerce them -as indeed they do, especially in France where legal protection for sex workers is weak. Criminalising men who use prostitutes will only exacerbate this situation.
Rosalyne Bachelot, Social Affairs Minister in Sarkozy's regime, had this to say in support of the criminalisation proposal,
" There is no such thing as freely chosen and consenting prostitution"
If she really said that, you have French authoritarianism in a nutshell.
The principled refusal to even contemplate that another woman's sexuality might be different to your own has as its principal sources both prudery and perhaps more so the fear that another woman might weaken your control over your partner's sexuality: the statistics quoted in support of the criminalisation ban focus on the fact that most men who use prostitutes are family men - married or with children.
It is this desperate need to Control, Control, which leads to the criminalisation proposal - just as it led to the closure of the brothels which maintained a "private sphere" far too closed to surveillance for the liking of fascists and communists.
Marriages can never be happy so long as women are threatend by the sexuality of other women - Bachelot's problem - or men by female sexuality in general - the Islamists' problem.
By way of contrast to France, consider something that happened recently in Turkey - the country which must not join the EU, says Sarkozy. Concerned about women coerced into prostitution, the government set up phone lines for people to give tip offs. Result? The majority of calls came from men who used prostitutes but did not like it one bit when they met women who were being coerced. Turkish men, who are commonly regarded as The Worst!
And on a lighter note, I am reading Jonathan Miles' The Nine Lives of Otto Katz, a Czech agent who worked for the Soviets from the 1920s to the 1940s before being condemned in the 1950 Slansky show trial. Katz knew and was probably one of the many lovers of Marlene Dietrich, a woman with a voracious sexual appetite. Miles throws in the following anecdote:
" After playing scarlet women in a string of films, Dietrich decided to see how convincing she could be off-screen. One night in London's Soho, towards the end of May 1933, she hitched up her skirt and wiggled to and fro along the pavement, stopping male passers-by. After half an hour of unsuccessful street walking she gave up ..." (page 205).