SexagonMuslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture

SexagonMuslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture

Mehammed Amadeus Mack

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780823274604

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Sexagon studies the broad politicization of sexuality in French debates about immigration and diversity since the 1980s, and how that politicization is reflected in and also created by French cultural productions. Surveying representations of communities of immigrant origin, as well as discourses circulating within them, it focuses in on literature, film, psychoanalysis, ethnopsychiatry, erotica, and feminist and gay and lesbian activist rhetoric to examine where sexualized representations take a political turn. It furthermore examines how guardians of French Culture have judged the integration of Muslim immigrants from North and West Africa—as well as their French descendants—according to these Muslims’ attitudes about gender and sexuality. More precisely, it studies the symptomatic “frustration” that French establishment figures consistently exhibit in the face of changes to a familiar France and argues that this frustration gravitates around the concept of virilism. A volatile virilism would not only animate the “difficult” Arab, black and Muslim boys so often the focus of sensational newscasts, it would also define their neighborhoods in the banlieues, their religion of Islam, and the notion of immigration itself. The frustrations studied here are crucially inflamed by a defining element of these virility cultures, namely their clandestinity. Mirroring the secret and underground qualities of “illegal” immigration, the proponents of clandestine cultures, both gay and straight, choose to withdraw away from official scrutiny within ethnic communitarian shelters that are anathema to the Republic’s desires for universalism and transparency. These sealed-off spaces of virile domain are all the more “annoying” to the surveillance apparatus for their impenetrability.