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Sex is fun, says ex-porn star ... and Frenchwomen agree

By Daniel Brown

According to a national sex survey in France, Frenchwomen have closed the gap with men in sexual emancipation. A recent book by former porn star Ovidie seems to confirm that conclusion.

“Sex is fun, don’t forget this,”  Ovidie continues to put her flamboyant autograph on her latest work La sexualité féminine de A à Z (An A-Z of female sexuality)

The queue - mostly made up of men - clutching their copy of her book at the Musardine bookshop is long and patient, despite the wait. The exchange with her readers has been generously doused in wine and humorous remarks that barely allude to the erotic content of her latest work, a dictionary with 126 themes going from Accouchement (childbirth) to Zone érogène” (erogenous zones).

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This is not Ovidie's first foray into non-fiction.

She has become a pillar of the Osez (Dare) series, with works on pornographic films, female sexuality during pregnancy and how to use sex toys.

But this latest work, she admits, is her most lighthearted book so far and, at two years, took her the longest time to write.

“We shouldn’t be too obsessed with our sexuality,” she observes. “Women have become more confident with their own body. When a Frenchwoman meets a man […] she’ll have sex with him without asking if she’s going to become involved with him. She’ll stay or…”  she hesitates, “she’ll tell him to go fuck himself.”

The former porn actress, now erotic film director, laughs.

At her side, Julia Dasic draws a caricature next to Ovidie’s signature.

Dasic is the up-and-coming artist who illustrated the dictionary. Born in Paris of a Serbian father and Greek mother, she has another vision of female sexuality in France.

“I think we are very far from real feminism,” she says, as she begins to draw a pair of knickers on a clothes line. “There are many things we don’t dare say, for example the full depth of female desire: what we can think about when we are alone between the sheets.”

She draws an ambiguous liquid dripping from the drying knickers into a pool on the ground.

“There always remain things that are not easy to say or accept,” Dasic pats her drawing with an enigmatic smile, closes the cover and gives it to a slightly puzzled reader.

Dasic’s statements tend to contradict not only her friend Ovidie, but the conclusions of a vast study of sexuality in France.

The 600-page survey written in 2008 concludes that Frenchwomen are increasingly assertive in their sexual behaviour.

The average age of initiation is now 17.6-years-old, just four months behind men, compared to two years in the 1950s. 

And they have closed the gap in number of partners in a lifetime and the variety of sexual acts they engage in.

The study, commissioned by France’s National Research Agency on Aids, also notes that only 3.5 per cent of Frenchwomen aged between 18 and 35 abstain from sex, compared  6.2 per cent of Frenchmen.

“It’s not surprising that women are becoming more confident with their bodies,” claims Benjamin Hanneton who works at Musardine. “We are living in a society that is producing more and more sexually explicit material. But we are just not ready to accept that fact.”

Ovidie is one of those at the cusp of a movement to change that vision. She is currently programme director for the cable FrenchLover TV and points to the number of women directing erotic films as a positive sign for the future.

“We are no longer afraid to show women enjoying sex," she says. "These films assert the fact women can be an equal partner to men in the sexual acts they shoot. We don’t accept a degrading image of women in these films any more.”

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