Since #MeToo, France’s notoriously liberal attitudes to sex and sexual power are under the microscope as never before
A few years ago I spent the weekend in a château deep in the rural Auvergne region of central France. Even more memorable than the crumbling property with its hectares of forest and decaying outbuildings, were the two elderly men to whom we were introduced when we arrived, who were enjoying an afternoon gin and tonic in the library. One – the father of my friend Guillaume – was Guillaume’s mother’s longtime lover until her recent death. The other was his mother’s husband and the owner of the château where Guillaume grew up. The two men had remained on excellent terms for 40 years.
The setup had all the ingredients of one of those lyrical French films starring Gérard Depardieu, replete with lavish interiors and rhapsodic landscapes looping through the changing seasons. It also ticked every box for lascivious British assumptions about the French, among whom infidelity, at least among the rich, powerful and famous, has long been something of a hallmark of a specifically French insouciance.
The past year or two has seen an incredible liberation for women