Life Style

“Am I heavy? ”: young men in the #MeToo era

Is the age of flirting over? From the pen of the historian Alain Corbin, this expression designates a very precise period, the first half of the 20th century, when a certain lightness, marivaudage reigned 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. To the point of destabilizing young men? To deprive them of their own “age of flirtation”, that of meetings where we test ourselves, where we swoon and then commit?

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

“Am I heavy? » became the big question of the time, testify Lucas, 26, a chartered accountant, and Hakim, 22, an English student. To be a man is no longer to be virile, and even less macho, but to often wonder: is it hard to approach a young girl in 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 men. “Singles are legion 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 lie entirely with #MeToo: “With the Covid, we all went out less, so we met fewer people. » Above all, flirting is now virtual: it’s on the Tinder application that everything is played. “And on the apps, basically, nothing has changed: the boys are taking the first step”, Lucas confirms.

Still, now, the physical encounter can be scary. “For example, now a lot of girls think that when you just want to be friends with them, it’s a bit suspicious, continues the young man. They wonder if we don’t want something else, behind. So I’m less inclined to prank girls I don’t know, because I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. » In this context, the shyest boys “are completely blocked today”, he thinks he knows.

“It can go quickly into a row”

Hakim has been in a relationship for four years. However, he is not unaware of the torments of seduction in 2022, because his friends 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 it when he plays matchmaker. “As I have easy contact, sometimes my friends send me to approach the girls in their place, in bars, for example. It’s true that now, it can quickly get into a fight. »

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


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

Also, during the workshops, he tries to give very concrete keys, while inviting 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 young boys understand very well that they cannot control others, just as, conversely, they do not want anyone to control them. There is important work to be done on the intimacy of the body. »

“They are now questioning themselves in the open air”

“For lack of being able to participate in this type of workshop, which is still rare, it is between friends that young people draw together the outlines of acceptable or unacceptable flirting”notes the psychiatrist Patrice Huerre: “they are now questioning themselves in the open. » Where, not so long ago, the appearance of desire was very inhibited, solitary and a little ashamed, then the passage to the sexual act strongly ritualized by marriage, now everything is said aloud. The teenagers tell each other their emotions. “This way, girls no longer feel alone or bound to pseudo-consent, even though the fear of appearing ‘stuck’ or ‘late’ may still cause them to say ‘yes’ where they mean ‘no'” , says the psychiatrist.

→ TESTIMONIALS. “I say no more easily”: after #MeToo, young women are evolving

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 understood that, when I was younger, I had sometimes been too insistent without realizing it, admits the latter. I never forced a girl, but when I didn’t get what I wanted, I sulked. Now I realize she must have been feeling really bad,” recalls Hakim. “For me, consent is: ‘what I want should not take precedence over what you want’. Also, a girl should not be ashamed to say what she wants or not,” continues Lucas.

And if it’s true that the girls “bother” more easily than before, they think, it’s not so bad. “They have acquired a certain confidence. They are more daring to say what they want, even come and flirt with us themselves. It’s pretty cool, actually.” according to Hakim. Lucas nods. “Thanks to #MeToo, as a man, I’m a lot less ashamed. Before, I had the pressure, I had to make the first move, guess what the girl liked or didn’t like. Now we discuss it together. Girls are also less ashamed to say what they want. It’s better and normal. It is the situation before that was not. »

→ MAINTENANCE. “With #MeToo, the masculine has become humanized”


For further

♦ To read

“What if we reinvented the education of boys”

by Christine Castelain-Meunier,

Nathan, 2020

Throughout the pages of this short treatise on education, the sociologist gives ways to reinvent virility. Without denying the differences between the sexes, which are important to her, she shows that, from early childhood, girls and boys are not brought up in the same way because they are the subject of different expectations from parents. Because deep down, she says, everyone is very afraid that they are not performing well enough. It therefore provides avenues for promoting male empathy, which promotes greater mutual respect.

♦ Workshops for teenagers

The Cycloshow-XY Association

In 1999, Doctor Elisabeth Raith-Paula wrote a book, What’s going on in my body?and designs a workshop for sixth and fifth grade girls, with the motto “What I cherish, I also protect”. CycloShow was 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, with in particular Mission XY, which brings together fathers and sons.


♦ TeenStar courses

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


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