Romance in Paris
Issue 89 February 2012
I was invited to France to discuss marriage and sex to a bunch of Parisian university students. The event was organised by the Islamic society. I expected a small room of young shy Muslim students, all staring at the floor, whilst I spoke on this sensitive topic. I was pleasantly surprised however by the 300 plus audience, most of them non Muslims. Forget being shy, they were boisterous, lively and eager to engage. What was I thinking? It was Paris after all—a place where love, romance and sex have all metamorphosed into a rather complex psychology and cultural narrative.
I began the talk by exploring love—the most popular, yet most elusive, topic in the world. For me, I was in the city that talked more about romance than any other city in Europe. Even the French language sounds extremely sexy and romantic to us Brits. A fact I announced to much laughter from the audience. Asking a young French audience about the importance of love sounded strange, but I had serious motivations behind my question. I wanted to know if they really understood the meaning of this oft used word. Or did they confuse sex with love? If sex is an important part of showing love, does one have to have sex with every person one falls in love with? Can sex, without a loving relationship, be truly fulfilling?