Home » News » The “consent” of Vanessa Springora is about pedophile Gabriel Matzneff. She was 13, he almost 50, when they started a “relationship”. – Dagsavisen

The “consent” of Vanessa Springora is about pedophile Gabriel Matzneff. She was 13, he almost 50, when they started a “relationship”. – Dagsavisen

– I had no power. I was thirteen years old and was looking for a father figure, says Vanessa Springora to Dagsavisen.

The French author is in Norway to talk about his autobiographical novel “Samtykket”, which shook France with his portrayal of pedophilia.

We must stop pretending to be Power girls have, when adult men allow themselves to give in to their own desires.

Vanessa Springora

Muse without power

In the book, Springora tells how, as a thirteen-year-old, she became a “fifty-year-old” author’s “mistress”.

– He was famous and admired, and knew how to play on the right strings for insecure children like me. All power lay with him. And he abused it, with the intellectual elite at his back. He deftly tricked young and inexperienced people into me believe that I had power over him. That I was his muse, something he depended on to create Great Literature. But really, he dressed me naked and vulnerable, concrete and transferred. We must stop pretending to be Power girls have, when adult men allow themselves to give in to their own desires. Men like him abuse. It is the shopkeepers, not the powerful young girls who somehow lure, Springora says.

Literary abuse

The “relationship” between the insecure teenager Vanessa and the celebrated middle-aged author she calls “G.” in the book was not “just” sexual.

The assaults also took place literary. The author “G.”, whose real name is Gabriel Matzneff, wrote about his conquest, ie Vanessa, in several of his books. He also wrote other books on sexual abuse of boys and girls as young as eight years old. These he carried out on trips abroad.

This is what makes “Consent” truly appalling: it shows how the intellectual elite not only knew about the abuses, but even recognized them as examples of “free sexual expression.”

– Matzneff locked me in a double abuse. The sexual and the literary. He locked me in the books while people around him cheered. They devoured his version of the story raw. Therefore, it became important for me to respond with the same coin. I wanted to use the literature, and the grips one has in the literature, to make the story as clear and strong as I could. I knew it was a language Matzneff and people around him would understand, says Springora.

The spirit of the times

The “consent” hit like a bomb in the French public when it arrived in January 2020.

– Actually, I expected the book to meet with a kind of anxious silence. So I’m actually really surprised at what impact it’s had. What I am writing about happened over thirty years ago. Matzneff is well over eighty years old now, and no longer in fashion as a writer. But the breakthrough clearly shows that I hit the spirit of the times. The conversation about consent joined the #metoo discussion. An era is over, says Springora.

More women

She has obviously been involved in ending the era herself. As a result of “Consent”, plus other books in which other authors have portrayed pedophilia and incest and sexual abuse, the age of sexual consent in France has now been set at fifteen years. At the same time, #metoo has finally reached France.

What we can call a kind of positive form of feminization of society has happened, also in France. The publishing world and the media are two clear examples. There have always been many women in the publishers. But now they are also leaders, leading the way and powerful in a completely different way. The same applies in the media. Before, there were only men at the top, among the owners and the editors-in-chief. Now there are more women there. I think it has something to do with the climate of debate, and with what stories are being told. A mother might have reacted to the books Matzneff wrote. Instead, he was cheered on by the boys’ club around him, says Springora.

Reviewed

In the wake of “Consent”, Gabriel Matzneff was reported for the assaults on Vanessa Springora and several others. The trial against him was dropped due to the position of the evidence. But in the eyes of the public, he was found guilty, and in no way enjoys the reputation he once did. He has also lost the state scholarship he previously received, and his books have been withdrawn from the market.

It has an obvious cost, that “the whole world” now knows what I have experienced.

Vanessa Springora

– I do not really have a particularly great faith in the therapeutic in the literature. I did not write “Consent” to save myself. I wrote it when I was strong enough to have already saved myself. But the fact that so many identified with the content, and felt seen, has actually been useful to me as well. I’m really a pretty introverted, discreet person. The enormous media hype surrounding the book, at home and internationally, has been violent. It has an obvious cost, that “the whole world” now knows what I have experienced. That so many know my traumas. But it has been worth it, says Springora.

Spiritual aristocracy

For readers outside the French intellectual bubble, it is nevertheless shocking that the abuses could take place. Gabriel Matzneff wrote about them! In several books!

In “The Consent”, Vanessa Springora spends a lot of time explaining how the French intellectual elite, including supposed spiritual figures such as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Roland Barthes argued that sexuality must first and foremost be fri. The child agrees, the spiritual elite thought.

– I see that some readers abroad think that all French society in the 1980s backed pedophilia. That was not the case. It was a rather small, but very powerful, intellectual clique of the so-called intellectual elite that defended pedophiles. They believed that pedophilia was an acceptable sexual orientation, much like homosexuality. That a writer took on a lover at thirteen or fourteen was kind of just cool, very stylish, says Springora, and agrees that this little clique can be compared to a kind of aristocracy, with different rules for itself than for the berm.

Outgoing teenager

But can a thirteen-fourteen-year-old consent to sex with a man three or four times as old? As the title reveals, this is the really big question Vanessa Springora asks in the autobiographical novel. The answer she arrives at is a resounding NO.

Vanessa Springora.  Author of Consent.

I was a child who wanted protection. That someone should I know me.

Vanessa Springora

– I make no attempt to hide that as a thirteen-year-old I was attracted to Gabriel Matzneff. I was in love, and willing to do much to be with the man I – and everyone around me – idolized. Young people do that. They are exposed to risk. Sexually, through the use of drugs, or other behavior – without an overview of the consequences. I was a child who wanted protection. That someone should I know me. A father figure. Matzneff saw my longing, and played on it. The responsibility always lies with the adult, not with the child or young person, says Vanessa Springora, the author of “Samtykket”.

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