François Regnault

Author’s Bio

1 –After 1968, it was doubtlessly an implicitly requirement – as well as a false idea – that the sexual freedom finally established under the motto “unfettered enjoyment” would make it possible for everyone to finally find their match. For heterosexuals this was something obvious, for homosexuals it was something that had to be said (let us not forget the role that Guy Hocquenguer and FHAR played here). But pedophiles, zoophiles, and necrophiles were never mentioned – and why not? Fetishists always find their match, by definition: why not open then some night domes for necrophiles; why not generalize to other mammals the fat lady’s secret practices with her lapdog (this time with Brigitte Bardot’s blessing); why not make free use of children, those polymorphous perverts?

Given that I was asked to reply to L’infini only in my capacity as a teacher in a department of psychoanalysis, and a Lacanian one at that, I can imagine the answer that Lacan might have given: there is no sexual relationship. If I, a man, loved a woman in 1968, I could always sleep with her; if I, a man, loved a man, I could do so from then on under the protection of FHAR; but if I, an adult, loved a child, would it be forbidden for me to run after them, or even better, make them come to me?

What limitations would be placed on this form of enjoyment?

Obviously, the other’s consent. Therefore, I should add at the end of each one of my previous statements: if the woman consents, if the man consents, if the children consent. It will be objected that children cannot consent, but the kiddie-lover tells us that psychoanalysis, through its notion of polymorphous perversion, leads people to believe that children can consent. We recently saw on TV the filming of the words spoken by children prostituted “far away”; although we can read a sort of daze or terror in most faces, what was most unbearable was the fact that there was a lecherous leer in the face of a little boy describing sex scenes to which he had become used.

No doubt it must come to this: that is to say, claiming that children are asking for it, they attract, seduce, provoke, etc. They even, as Freud found, make things up, requiring fictional seductions.

But this answer must be immediately turned on its head: it’s precisely because this can enter children’s lives that it must be forbidden and the demand for it must be rejected.

For children also demand gorging on chocolate, walking along rooftops, drinking poison, hurting their friends, lying, stealing, and killing, if allowed. And experience shows that nowadays they are allowed to do a bit of all that.

Whereas a child’s desire – if children can be attributed a desire, maybe their only desire – is to grow up. “The necessity for education,” says Hegel in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, “is present in children as their own feeling of dissatisfaction with themselves as they are, as the drive (der Trieb) to belong to the adult world whose superiority they divine, as the desire (der Wunsch) to grow up. The play theory of education assumes that what is childish is itself already something of inherent worth and presents it as such to the children; in their eyes it lowers serious pursuits, and education itself, to a form of childishness for which the children themselves have scant respect.”

I will be told that the people who pay for children in the Manila brothels have little regard for this spontaneous need that children have. Their most certain desire is for the child to remain a child… and die a child: which they can easily obtain, with the complicity of the child’s parents and enablers.

Therefore, all the answer that psychoanalysis can give (psychoanalysis gives very few answers, by definition) to those demanding the impossible is that the ’68 idea is a fantasm. Even Freud says so: “The entire universe – both the macrocosm and the microcosm – fights the program of the pleasure principle”, which nonetheless “determines the goal of life”. But psychoanalysts (of whom I am not one, but anyway…) know that on this point the desperate necrophile, zoophile, and pedophile are no less favored than him who “legally rides” his bourgeois wife, as Zazie put it.[2]

Love takes the place of the non-existent sexual relationship. Anyone can easily infer from this that, in the place of the non-existent pedophilic relationship, love is called pedagogy. “Pure shit”, as Alain says (he took this from one of his students). I’m leaving aside the love that parents feel for their children, which usually doesn’t posit any problems more serious than the Oedipus complex – which is bad enough, and which can appear as something monstrous. For it is quite odd to excuse those parents who prostitute their children because they live in poverty! The mother who sells her daughter off is however a classic figure.

But in this period of “humanitarianness” we claim that poverty is an excuse for everything. With regard to pedagogy and this sort of interest that pedagogy has in children as unfinished and in permanent childhood (children as retarded), it’s no surprise that it is currently finding its pedophilic reverse, which nonetheless has existed for as long as pedagogy has. To give a definition: the pedophile is the reverse of the pedagogue. Plato doesn’t seem to have thought very differently.[3]

Society establishes laws against this aporia of a reckless desire. Thus it arbitrarily establishes an age of majority: what the age is doesn’t matter, as long as there is one. For if the psychoanalyst can claim that “there are no grown-ups”, as a priest famously told André Malraux, the reverse of psychoanalysis must posit that there are grown-ups, who might even be called citizens, in a republic, for example. Why do those who call for the free availability of children (or rather, of children’s bodies) don’t also call for them to be able to vote, even if it is only by shaking a rattle, for instance, to the left or to the right?

2- Having established these principles (not without pedantry), what question arises in 1997 which wouldn’t have arisen in 1968 – now that children are murdered, sometimes by other children, animals die of the plague, graves are violated?

Given that a child may (unconsciously) consent, but is however neither (consciously) free nor (physically) strong enough, a child cannot be taken and used at will. But if pedophiles seek impunity, they will always find a network to protect them, for, as Pascal says, “there are always evil ones”. A network obviously involves secrecy, complicity, blackmail, institutional involvement, and, necessarily in the legal system, compromises between lawyers and judges. We then find that, following the Puritan logic, from Kleist’s Broken Jug to Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, it is priests, judges and pedagogues who regularly turn out to be the first culprits, and who take extreme care to preserve their secrecy.

Hence the proliferation of non-results in these cases. Occasional or perpetual pedophiles need only slip under this fishing net. But then, like M, the child-killer played by Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang’s film, they run the risk of disturbing the entire fishing industry. And, as in M, the legal criminals must quickly react to maintain their traffic; and, in the current state of affairs, the public must be reassured. Then the public brings in what are correctly called “specialists and spokespersons for children”, with the blessing of the police and media piety.

Thus, in France we have recently seen a prevention campaign, promoted by public institutions, to detect pedophiles at first sight [4], even before they act, and immediately report them. We know what the current Home Secretary’s desire is (at least at the time of writing): to turn every Frenchman and every Frenchwoman into a snitch. Summing up: to involve everyone in their large and small police and moral affairs. From now on reporting a suspicious parcel, declaring one’s disagreement with an eviction, and claiming that someone is a pedophile on the loosed on the basis of a mere suspicion will all be placed on the same ethical plane.[5]

Following the recent murders of the Boulogne teenagers, I heard on the raid how a listener demanded that every murdered and every rapist be arrested and thrown into prison before they act, not after; then another listener demanded that, from now on, it should no longer be “victims who die, but their murderers”. These are two paradoxes, the one temporal, the other functional, but which can be easily solved if the guillotine is introduced (obviously, after the death penalty is reestablished) as a precautionary measure against every suspect denounced by honest folk.

In order to apply these principles to pedophilia, it might be more sensible for prostitution networks to be entrusted with children, in order to abuse them with impunity with no inconvenience other than obtaining substantial profit to ensure the children’s future.

Thus the Biblical warning could be rewritten thus: “Woe betide the city whose prince is a child!”

In any case, psychoanalysis, which cannot replace the law but which cannot remain bound by custom, has nothing to do with any physiognomic or behavioral enterprise aiming to satisfy the current demand by the French State, and is thus relegated to the human sciences. For psychoanalysis suspects that the current attempt by the State to drive people to report each other (for instance, every odd-looking teacher in school and any lugubrious shyster on the street would be reported) will have as a result the denouncers’ temporary satisfaction, thus enabling the ogres to keep feasting on children.


  • Text written in response to questions made by L’infini magazine, Gallimard, Paris, 1997


[1] This can be seen in Nabokov’s Lolita. Following a recent broadcast on the topic of pedophilia (on Mother’s Day), a radio host hurried to say that the novel is “disgusting”, as was obvious to all listeners. What is scandalous is not that a moron should tell us about his tastes, but that he clearly takes them to be something obvious and shared by all.

[2] There is actually no need to worry. Perverts almost always find their match. For this reason, the issue arises only for neurotics who believe they are perverts – a trait common to many neurotics.

[3] On this crucial point, cf. Jean-Claude Milner’s Triple Pleasure. 

[4] Concerning suspicion at first sight, read the Natacha Michel’s beautiful novella The Garden, in in Impostures and Separations, Le Seuil, coll. “Fiction et Cie.”

[5] Along the same lines, the forced choice proposed by educators to children who are bullied in school is the following: either you give them your money, your watch, etc. or you report them. It is necessary for children to speak up, to put an end to vendettas, claim educators. Taken to the limit, we find here Kant’s choice: either you risk losing your life or you speak up. The child has only enemies.

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