By Enki Bilal, Pierre Christin
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The Republican model was also at the root of the decision in 1985 to refuse the legalisation of condom advertising. This was a turning point. In that year alone, official cases of AIDS in France increased by 1,254. By 1987, it was estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 people were HIV-positive. But it had been decided that the sexual transmission of a disease was a private matter rather than a public responsibility. Allied to this was the attitude of the French government in the early 1980s which was tainted with political opportunism.
Pity’ is not the same as empathy or compassion. In the latter cases, one tries to put oneself in the Other’s predicament, to situate oneself within the discourse position of the other. In the case of pity, one stays within one’s own clear boundaries and reaches out towards the Other from a position of strength (it is indeed a muchpraised Catholic value). 26 As Hélène puts it in a poignant moment, referring to Brian and herself: ‘Martin demandait de l’amour, nous ne donnions que de l’affection’ (p.
Juliette ends up dominating him totally, and he becomes very needy, even asking her to marry him. 5 Juliette calls this sexual dependency the ‘real power’ women can have over men (p. 58). Payment is another way of exercising control and of removing feelings from the sexual transaction (feelings which are perhaps just underneath the surface). Juliette is turning the tables on the conventional traffic with women and subverting masculinist desires. Sexuality as a survival technique is more often associated with men than with women.