young people in the #MeToo era

Is the age of flirting over? From the pen of the historian Alain Corbin, this expression designates a very specific period, the first half of the 20th century, in which a certain lightness reigned, the marvaudage between the sexes. Now that carefree bubble has burst. This beginning of the 21st century is marked by a profound questioning of the relationship between women and men in the wake of #MeToo. Up to destabilizing young people? To deprive them of their own “age of flirting”, that of encounters where we test ourselves, where we faint and then commit ourselves?

→ ANALYSIS. Get rid of the male? After #MeToo, men confide in each other

“Am I heavy? “ became the big question of the time, testify Lucas, 26, a chartered accountant, and Hakim, 22, an English student. Being a man no longer means being manly, and even less sexist, but often asking oneself: is it difficult to approach a girl on the street? To offer him a drink? Am I heavy without knowing it?

Red line

The fear of crossing this famous red line would block some, assure the two young people. “Singles are legions and couples are formed less than before”, sighs Hakim, denim overalls and a broad smile, installed in a Parisian café. However, the fault would not be entirely #MeToo: “With Covid we all went out less, so we met fewer people. “ Above all, flirting is now virtual: it is on the Tinder application that everything is played. “And on the apps, after all, nothing has changed: the kids are taking the first step”, Luca confirms.

Yet, now, the physical encounter can be frightening. “For example, now many girls think that when you just want to be friends with them, it’s a little suspicious, continues the young man. They wonder if we don’t want something else behind it. So I’m less inclined to prank girls I don’t know, because I don’t want to make them uncomfortable. “ In this context, the most shy guys “are completely blocked today”, thinks he knows.

“Can go quickly in line”

Hakim has been in a relationship for four years. However, he does not ignore the torments of seduction in 2022, because his friends with him share their moods. “They all agree that the girls have become more suspicious. They find it a pity to immediately pass for potential rapists. “ He also notices this when he plays the matchmaker. “Since I have easy contact, sometimes my friends send me to approach the girls in their place, in bars, for example. It is true that now he can quickly get into a fight. “

Even one of his friends “had a big problem”: a girl accused him of sexual assault. “He threatened to file a complaint, but he didn’t, but he rotted him with everyone he knows. He lost his job, got banned from a lot of bars, etc. His life is ruined! The girl was taken in. word. “ Since then, his friends have all been very cool: “We avoid being alone with girls we don’t know. “


In the #MeToo era, a manual for gender relations remains to be written even more than yesterday. “Girls are complicated”, is therefore the phrase that Yves de Martel, animator of father-son sexual and emotional education workshops hears most often. “Mutual misunderstandings are persistent between girls and boys, because they do not know their bodies, nor their rhythms of psychological maturation. They want to understand and seek real answers to their questions. “

Furthermore, during the workshops, he tries to give very concrete keys, inviting you to discover the beauty of the encounter. “When we present the female body, we explain, for example, that the vulva is a private area that we don’t use as we want. Even children understand very well that they cannot control others, just as, on the contrary, they do not want anyone to control them. There is important work to be done on the intimacy of the body. “

“Now they question themselves in the open”

“In order not to be able to participate in this type of workshop, which is still rare, it is among friends that young people trace the contours of acceptable or unacceptable flirting”observes psychiatrist Patrice Huerre: “Now they are questioning themselves in the open. “ Where, not so long ago, the appearance of desire was very inhibited, lonely and a little shameful, then the transition to the highly ritualized sexual act of marriage, now all is said aloud. Teenagers tell each other about their emotions. “In this way, girls no longer feel lonely or tied to pseudo-consent, even if the fear of appearing ‘stuck’ or ‘late’ can still make them say ‘yes’ where they mean ‘no'”, says the psychiatrist.

Lucas and Hakim do not regret life before #MeToo, because more harmonious relationships between women and men have also emerged. “It made me think. I realized that, when I was younger, I had sometimes been too insistent without realizing it, the latter admits. I’ve never forced a girl, but when I didn’t get what I wanted, I sulked. Now I realize that she must have felt really bad, ” recalls Hakim. “For me, consensus is: ‘what I want doesn’t have to take precedence over what you want.’ Also, a girl shouldn’t be ashamed to say what she wants or not “, Luca continues.

→ LARGE SIZE. Equality, veil, gender … Feminism, passage between generations

And if it is true that the girls “nuisance” easier than before, they think, it’s not that bad. “They have gained some confidence. They are more daring to say what they want, even to come and flirt with ourselves. It’s pretty cool, actually. “ according to Hakim. Luca nods. “Thanks to #MeToo, as a man, I’m much less ashamed. Before I had the pressure, I had to make the first move, guess what the girl liked or disliked. Now we discuss it together. Girls are even less ashamed to say what they want. . It’s better and normal. It’s the situation before it wasn’t. “


For further

♦ To read

“What if we reinvent children’s education”

by Christine Castelain-Meunier,

Nathan, 2020

Through the pages of this short treatise on education, the sociologist offers ways to reinvent manhood. Without denying the differences between the sexes, which are important to her, he shows that, from early childhood, girls and boys are not educated in the same way because they are subject to different expectations from their parents. Because after all, she says, everyone is very afraid of not working well enough. She then provides avenues for promoting male empathy, which fosters greater mutual respect.

♦ Workshops for teenagers

The Cycloshow-XY Association

In 1999, Dr. Elisabeth Raith-Paula wrote a book, What is happening in my body?and designs a workshop for first and fifth grade girls, with the motto “What I care about, I also protect”. CycloShow is born. Animated in many public and private schools, it spreads to other countries. A first workshop took place in France in 2006, where several trainers joined the Cler Amour et famille association. Since then the workshops have diversified, most notably Mission XY, which brings together fathers and sons.


♦ TeenStar courses

This sexual and emotional education pedagogy was developed in 1980 in the United States by Dr. Hanna Klaus. Starting from the principle that “Young people want to experience great love and not cheap love”, This course, which takes place over several months, in small groups of the same sex and by age group, addresses all the questions on intimacy and affectivity based on the questions of young people. The goal: to awaken the critical sense to exercise free choices in one’s adult life.,

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