Sexuality and conjugality: the redefinition of gender relations in contemporary France

The relation between sexuality and conjugality has been deeply redefined in the last decades of the XXth century. Whereas sex was traditionally a right and an attribute of married people, sexual exchange has presently become the inner driving force in contemporary conjugality. Nevertheless, this reversal has not brought about radical shifts in gender relations. An analysis of trends in sexual behaviours in France doubtless shows the closing of the gap between male and female sexual trajectories and the rise of a value of reciprocity between partners. But a closer examination of the confronting of men and women at the various stages of sexual exchange suggests the permanence of a strong gender divergence: teen age socialization, as well as the very course of conjugal sex life continue fostering very assimetrical interpretations of sexuality, in which female desire is always less legitimate than the male one.

Sexuality; Conjugality; Gender Relations; France

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