By, Zahra Banday, BA English
Photo caption: Yann Moix (Creative Commons)
Described by Twitter as having a “creepy Uncle vibe”, French author Yann Moix has been the topic of much debate over his recent controversial comments. They were made to the French Marie Claire, when promoting his latest novel, (I’m sure it’s great). Moix decided to treat us, the reader, to his thoughts and tastes regarding women. In the humblest way he remarked, “I prefer younger women’s bodies, that’s all. End of. The body of a 25-year-old woman is extraordinary. The body of a woman of 50 is not extraordinary at all”. This one man’s ode to his misogynistic preferences has caused a furore and the ladies of Twitter came out in hoards to shut him down — something I thoroughly recommend everyone read to just really lift the spirits. However, what started as a critique on one man’s views became part of a larger critique on how women are seen in society.
Moix claims that, “We’re living in a society where it’s hard to be an individual. We have to always represent the universal citizen…someone who displeases nobody”. His response to the backlash was to discuss how he is an ‘individual’ and cannot please everybody. Moix uses the word ‘individual’ to escape the real connotations of what he is saying, namely that he is sexist, ageist and presents a deeply troubled view of manhood, a ‘prisoner’ to his tastes. This is not a matter of free speech or a person’s preferences, it is one man normalising something women have always been told, that their ‘value’ has an expiry date. Moix remarks come about at an extremely interesting time, this is an age of body positivity, growing diversity and movements championing women’s rights. Women are supporting other women and de-bunking patriarchal attitudes. Women are fighting for equality but at the very least, accountability.
This is not a matter of free speech or a person’s preferences, it is one man normalising something women have always been told, that their ‘value’ has an expiry date.
As if this couldn’t get any worse, Moix added that his preferred choice was to date Asian women, specifically Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Ladies rejoice! The man is not only a deeply problematic ageist but also an Asian fetishist. However, we should give him credit because in his own words, “a lot of people would be incapable of admitting that because it is racism”. Yann, just because you admit something is racist, it doesn’t make it okay and suddenly not-racist.
In a follow-up interview Moix was asked whether he thought the sales of his new novel would suffer after this controversy, he responded by stating, “the system is so perverse that sales are about to rise like an arrow”. This presents another layer of problems to the plethora of issues created by this situation. Will his sales suffer? There have always been male authors that treated women in a dismissive, sexist and frankly disturbing way, Nabokov springs vividly to mind, yet their books are classics and sell to this day. Moix is already a decorated author winning multiple literary awards, so perhaps his sales won’t slump despite his controversy. However, as I have stated before, this is a new age and with that comes increasing awareness, people regard the artist in relation to the art. In the wake of the allegations against Kevin Spacey and the #SurvivingRKelly movement, people are starting to look at art-forms like film, music and literature and beginning to question how far you can separate the artist from their art. Thus far, Moix has become a symbol of everything wrong with the way women can be seen in society. I think Amanda Abbington (of Sherlock fame) best sums it up when she tweeted, “#YannMoix I think I speak fairly confidently for most if not all women over the age of 45 when I say you are categorically not to our taste either. Unless our taste stretches to backward-thinking men who look like Gollum…”.