March 4, 2024


Despite the fact that when we hear the word erotic our mind immediately turns to popular imagery (high heels, garter belts, red lips), it is more difficult for the intellect to understand this term, too imprecise, ethereal, ambiguous. That is why there are as many definitions about it as there are authors. For the American philosopher and essayist Diane Ackerman, eroticism is “the acrobatic game of the imagination.” “The sea of ​​memories in which we bathe. The way we caress and adorn things with our eyes. What is erotic is our passion for the vitality of life,” she asserts. Carl Gustav Jung maintained that “the erotic instinct belongs to the original nature of man and is related to the highest form of spirit.” “Eroticism is giving the body the prestige of the mind”, maintained the French writer and poet Georges Perros; and the Congolese chemist and novelist Emmanuel Boundzéki Dongala defined this term as “when the imagination makes love with the body”.

It seems that eroticism, which is not yet listed on the Stock Market, is losing momentum in favor of sexuality, which has always been more profitable. But to remedy this drift is the French sexologist Capucine Moreau, author of Cahier d’exploration érotique (erotic exploration notebook) and The erotic creativity in the couple (Erotic creativity in the couple), both edited by La Musardine in France. Determined to eroticize the Gauls, Moreau opened L’École de Capucine in Toulouse in 2017, where she organizes conferences, workshops and events around her favorite theme.

Ask. It seems that sexuality has ceased to be an instinct with which we are born, to become an art that needs learning. Has it always been like this or has today’s society destroyed eroticism and we must recover it?

Answer. For simple things, like an instinctive, heartfelt and authentic sexuality, or to breathe, indeed, we need time. The frantic race, the search for greater performance, the perpetual intellectualization must be suspended. Decidedly yes, today, in our society, we need to relearn.

Portrait of the sexologist Capucine Moreau.
Portrait of the sexologist Capucine Moreau.Laure Sophie Dedieu

Q. What should we understand by eroticism?

R. For me, eroticism is everything that comes out of reproductive sexuality, everything that involves it, what makes you vibrate, what keeps you alive, alone or with a partner. It is very vast! And we tend to think that it is more feminine than masculine, but this idea is nothing more than a way of reducing the sexuality and sensitivity of the man that, in reality, is much richer than we think. Anyone can want to develop the eroticism of him.

Q. There are many people who say “I’m not erotic at all”, as if being so were a quality that not everyone has.

R. In my opinion, we can all develop our erotic universe, if we have the desire and the appetite, of course. If not, it is not necessary. We run the risk of not succeeding!

We tend to think that eroticism is more feminine than masculine, but this idea is nothing more than a way of reducing the sexuality and sensitivity of men.

Q. The fact that sexuality is so politicized makes eroticism more difficult, because society has become very aseptic, very easily offended, with many new limits and rules that not everyone knows or accepts (I mean the field of sexuality ). You said in an interview with the magazine Boudu that “men still have a great fear of passing for perverts and women for whores. There’s still plenty of guilt.”

R. Yes, we say that we have become sexually liberated, but in my opinion this is quite false. Because, in the end, we always comply with rules and mandates external to us, which have evolved over generations, but are no more open than before. Suddenly, many judgments persist in bed and the shame continues, the guilt that, although it can change the addressee, is still there. For example, many women are still caught between “I’m afraid of looking like a slut” and “I have to fulfill myself sexually.” That is anything but freedom!

Q. As a society, have we focused more on sexuality than on eroticism? What are the consequences of this choice?

R. Today we move very quickly to sexuality, as soon as we meet someone. The consequences that I observe are an impoverishment of the imagination, of sensuality, of knowledge of one’s own body and of the other as a whole. We ignore all the other delicious things that people can do outside of the purely genital. Waiting, although this can sometimes be somewhat frustrating, is good and feeds desire and enjoyment. And, please, don’t let anyone interpret this as a prudish and archaic view of sexual relations, but the game has been lost and it must be recovered.

Q. What is the role of the internet and its normative imagery in eroticism? I am referring, above all, to its influence on adolescents, who are in the process of building their erotic-sexual lives.

R. I would say that the effects of the digital world are devastating: an impoverishment of the erotic imagination and the development of the universe itself, because everything is shown immediately and in a very crude way. Many young people find it difficult to move on to a real, shared sexuality, in which the pleasure of the other must be integrated. And all this results in a low desire, an arousal that, to be produced, requires very high standards and very intense images, which are not so frequent in real life.

Q. You created L’École de Capucine in November 2017, in Toulouse. What is taught in this school? What are your students looking to learn and what are their problems?

R. L’École de Capucine offers collective, mixed and single-sex spaces to exchange, learn about eroticism, be inspired, apologize and consider sexuality as a theme to be developed, like any other. The people who come do not necessarily have a problem, many have a curiosity, they want to activate this area of ​​their life in its own right, nurture it and give it movement. At school I do not act as a teacher, rather I am a vector, I facilitate communication; and it is not just a top-down teaching. We all learn from everyone and see how varied sexualities are.

Cover of 'Notebook of erotic exploration', by Capucine Moreau.
Cover of ‘Notebook of erotic exploration’, by Capucine Moreau. the musardine

Q. Can eroticism prolong and improve the life of the couple?

R. Eroticizing the relationship, being attentive to it, is a way of keeping our bodies connected, of embodying love, of continuing to be accomplices, players, of continuing to have fun together, knowing that our desires evolve and that, if we don’t talk about it, Sometimes we run the risk of getting lost. That being said, there are also couples deeply in love who are not erotic, who no longer have sexuality, and, in my opinion, that is also completely valid if it suits both of them.

Q. And when you are alone, how do you work on eroticism without anyone around?

R. You have to feed the imagination with readings, podcasts, movies or dreams. Discover your own body, new sensations, excite yourself. When you caress yourself, you can imagine that it is both the body that receives that caress and the hand that gives it. You become your own lover and you make love to yourself. It’s a really interesting practice.

Q. What are the main enemies of eroticism in today’s society?

R. Lack of time, lack of education and learning, the race for performance, pornographic cartoons, excessive intellectualization. But also the shame, the guilt, the taboo, which still persist. And then obviously, for some women, experiences of sexual assault, incest, either directly or experienced by women in their family. All these traumas block access and the right to one’s own pleasure.

Q. What taboos around sex still persist?

R. I would say the reduction or absence of desire in the couple. It’s very common, but it’s a big taboo because nobody talks about it and everyone feels guilty. It also generates many questions about love ties. “If there is no longer desire, there is no longer love” is what many people think, but most of the time it has nothing to do with it.

Q. In his school he uses different disciplines: yoga, writing, humor. It seems that pleasure and eroticism are closely connected to other areas of life, especially creativity.

R. Yes, when you fully and calmly take advantage of your sexuality (whether it is more or less frequent) you are in the same state as that of creativity. A state open to the present, to what happens, to what sprouts, in oneself and with the other.

Q. He said in an interview: “The fact that women decide to vindicate their sexuality is something enormous that also affects men, who no longer have to play a model that does not suit them and that was imposed on them for various reasons. It is fundamental to work with all genres, without ever opposing them”. Do you think that the war of the sexes is still in force, even intensified?

R. I would say that in the ascent to real equality between the genders, to true freedom, you have to have a panoramic vision and see the whole landscape, not just a part, because in the end men have also lost a lot in the patriarchal model, that it has blocked their access to their emotions, and that it has strongly penalized their vulnerability. Sometimes we think we are doing the right thing when, in fact, we are reproducing patterns that have not benefited anyone. Despite everything, we are closer than it seems to achieve that equality, and moving forward seems very interesting to me.

Q. What can we do, apart from going to his school, to feed eroticism?

R. Be attentive to feelings, to what happens in the body. It is letting oneself dream, fantasize (no one has to know!). It is developing the senses, in nature, for example. It’s listening to stories, reading them, working your beliefs and taboos. It is also accepting yourself as you are and accepting the moment that is coming. It is making peace with the variations of desire and pleasure. It is also freeing yourself from time and energy. But all this does not happen naturally or spontaneously, especially in a long-term relationship. Not much less!

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