(Originally published on January 11, 2016 at www.GoodMenProject.com)
For the longest time the French culture has been depicted as sensual and lustful. They tend to hold the view that sex and lust is a natural and beautiful aspect of life as a human being. For years, the classical French literature — such as that by Stendhal, Flaubert, Balzac, Hugo — portrayed emotions of love and lust in an enticing and carnal way. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines lust as “intense or unbridled sexual desire, intense longing, craving.” In the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, those in northern European countries, when using the word “lust,” implied pleasing or delighting, which has a much more positive slant. Something joyful, merry, and happy. Full of healthy vigor and zest for life.
But, in a broader sense, lust can pertain to passion and love, whether it’s for sex, friendship, money or life.
In America, unfortunately, the word “lust” is often associated with forbidden love or pornography, portraying a negative aspect of human desire. But, in a broader sense, lust can pertain to passion and love, whether it’s for sex, friendship, money or life. This has positive connotations, and refers to the drive and passion for living.
A 2014 article in BBC News Magazine, entitled “A Point of View: Sex and the French,” claimed that the French will easily admit that they are not a puritanical society, and accept the human need and desire for sex and food. In Alain de Botton’s, How To Think More About Sex, he says, “We need both art and sex to make us whole…and the specifics of what we find ‘beautiful’ and what we find ‘sexy’ are indications of what we most deeply crave in order to rebalance.”
We hear that French Presidents have affairs or mistresses, and many French people have lovers outside their main committed relationship. The BBC article shared that some cultures, such as American, like to be thought of as puritanical. However, they are less morally alert because they “have the judgments pre-packaged and their hypocrisies too.”
There is no universal right and wrong. In France, each case is assessed separately taking all the variables and conditions into consideration. “Morality may be permanent, but sexual ethics among adults are situational,” the article continues. If there were to be rules then there are always exceptions. In learning how to be lustful, it is not about learning how to have multiple partners or more intense and frequent sex, but about enjoying the minute sensations and joys of sharing a sensual language with another individual. If we do this often enough, the ideas of intimacy and lust become more familiar, less foreign and minimizes repression often depicted by Americans.
The idea of two individuals lusting after one another creates a union that shifts them from lonely strangers emotionally bonded, sharing pleasure rooted in stimulation of a biological drive. In his book, de Botton says part of the lustful feeling is webbed in the idea that two individuals seek approval from another, thus validating their sexuality. In the case of an older man lusting for a younger woman, it is usually because he is validating not only his virility, but his youth. Men and women who lust younger individuals are often experiencing a fear of their own mortality.
Lust, in its ultimate form, is a beautiful and positive experience to be nurtured and appreciated.
In comparing the French yearning for sensual lust with their appetite for a gourmet meal, we can say that both eating and lust indulge hunger. The French, however, do not gorge. It’s a polite ceremony with everyone being seated at the same time, being transported or transformed through the experience of eating. Like one who is transformed through an intimate encounter.
Lust, in its ultimate form, is a beautiful and positive experience to be nurtured and appreciated. It is one of the simple, yet at times quite profound, pleasures of life, that we can all relate to and yearn for.
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Photo credit: Getty Images
Originally published at goodmenproject.com on January 9, 2016.