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THE GENDER WAR

la-guerre-des-sexes-479x600In re-reading Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s “Venus à la fur”, I remembered the story of this patient, a young man, rather good-natured, fortunate, who wanted to undertake a psychoanalysis in order to free himself of the influence exercised by his wife on him. She indulged in a perverse little game whose only purpose was to humiliate him at all times and sometimes irrelevant. He had, among other things, to undergo the presence of his lover in the cinema, to read the press in the car, to sleep on the floor next to his bed. I discerned a form of jouissance in his jeremiades. And once again, listening to him, I thought that no one deserves more what happens to him than he who complains of it …

This is the conclusion reached by Séverin, the hero of Sacher-Masoch’s book (hero in the sense in which Jesus Christ Himself was crucified), thinking that “he who is whipped has deserved to be “. For “The Venus with the Fur”, a novel written in an outmoded style with literary methods that flourish in the nineteenth century, has probably less to do with hard sado-masochistic practices than with morals, which explains Moreover, its immense success with the cultivated bourgeoisie, which appreciates nothing more than the lessons of morality. The stupefaction and anger of Sacher-Masoch, a worldly and folkloric novelist adulated by “Le Figaro” and “La Revue des Deux-Mondes – absolute references at the time – by seeing his name associated with sexual perversion By the Viennese sexologist and psychiatrist Richard Krafft-Ebing in his Psychopathia sexualis, especially since the latter never concealed his condemnation of sexual deviations.If the dream of many writers – it would be a form of apotheosis for them – is to give their name or, to the limit, that of a character they created, like Flaubert with “Madame Bovary” or Goethe with “Werther” not to cite Hamlet, to a new pathology. In any case, Sacher-Masoch’s intention: what he has always sought to stage, apart from contracts binding him with dominating women, is rather a synthesis of Schopenhauer and Darwin, in which each character, such as Cain , Seeks to reduce his brother to slavery, when it is not to kill him.

The eternal war of the sexes is at the heart of “The Venus with the Fur”. Woman, as it was created by nature and as it attracts man, can only be his enemy, his slave or his despot. Sacher-Masoch gladly quotes the words of Goethe: “You must be the anvil or the hammer”, which perfectly illustrates, according to him, the relations between men and women. In these times of exacerbated feminism and inquisition against all forms of machismo, it is difficult not to experience some form of complicity with Sacher-Masoch. It reveals, like Schopenhauer before him, that in the passion of man is nested the power of woman and that she admirably hears herself to use it if the latter does not take care. Man has no choice but to be the tyrant or slave of woman, Sacher-Masoch asserts. Let him abandon himself, then he will pass under his yoke and feel the whip. And to those who would be surprised by such a conception of love, he advises reading his “Confessions of a supra-sensual,” from his diary. An archaicized literary process that allows Sacher-Masoch, under the guise of anonymity, to tell how he signed a contract with Baroness Fanny Pistor committing her to become her slave for six months. Successful experience that he will renew on several occasions, this does not have consequence each being entitled to his sexual whims.