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calendar   Thursday - December 10, 2009

France in the news. State secret uncovered. French obsession with the bottom revealed

ooh lala. Oh those French ....

(and 50 minutes still counting. Obvious time in this country means something different. Like maybe the clock is metric or something? or 30 minutes really means, when the little hand is on ...)

Where was I ?  Oh right. Still in La Belle France ...

France’s obsession with the bottom is laid bare this week in a major new documentary and book charting how “les fesses” have shaped history.


By Henry Samuel in Paris

The highbrow study claims to demonstrate the huge contribution the “derrière” has made to civilisation, mixing the views of top psychoanalysts, philosophers, scientists and artists.

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The role of “les fesses” in human evolution has been overlooked, claim the experts, while they have been prominent at every turning point in society and art history – from the ancient Greeks to Grace Jones. 

“They are every present in daily life and yet they have never been considered a serious subject of study in their own right,” claim the authors of La Face Cachée des Fesses (The Hidden Side of the Bottom). “They speak of the foundations of our society – in the literal and metaphorical sense – of its taboos and desires. When we talk about ‘les fesses’, we’re talking about ourselves.”

The film claims that the bottom line is that without our Gluteus Maximus, humans would never have come down from the trees.
Claudine Cohen, science historian at Paris’ Higher School of Social Sciences said: “The gluteal muscles are unique to humans, enabling bipedal locomotion – on two feet. (Their) size and strength developed to fulfil an essential human need, erect posture and walking.”

The importance of this change even escaped Darwin’s notice in his theory on human evolution. He made no mention of the fact that once humans gave up moving on all fours, males no longer knew when a female was fertile. This led to the rise of breasts and buttocks and the art of seduction.
While we all have them, “fesses” is a uniquely French word, claims the documentary – broadcast tomorrow (Thursday) night on the Franco-German channel Arte. An accompanying book will be on sale in all French museum shops starting this week.

Edward Lucie-Smith, an art historian, pointed out there was no exact translation for the word covering the thighs, the bottom and the loins.
“There’s no word in English which means quite the same thing. English words reduce it to the backside,” he said.

As for French artists, the documentary claims they have marked history above all others with their talents for depicting the derrière – through painters such as Courbet, Boucher, Toulouse-Lautrec, Ingres, Matisse and Degas.

“We have a special relationship with this party of the body,” said Allan Rothschild, co-director of the documentary. This was best summed up by Brigitte Bardot in the film Le Mépris (Contempt), when she asks, naked: “Et mes fesses? Tu les aimes, mes fesses?” (And my bottom, do you love my bottom?).” Buttocks have also played a key political role, in particular baring them as a protest gesture – favoured by punks and environmental activists. .

They also were instrumental in giving birth to feminism, which grew out of the misogynist and sexist late 19th century. “Les fesses” were exaggerated by making women wear “faux-culs” – literally “false butts” – huge bustles with a tiny waist and corset that actually enlarged their posteriors.

Philippe Comar, morphology professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts said: “The faux-cul reduced the woman to a sexual object. It is not surprising feminist movements took flight at this time.” While buttocks marked important phases in art, this was also true for photography, film and advertising.
In 1972, Michel Polnareff, a popular French singer, stuck thousands of posters of himself dressed as a woman and baring his behind with the slogan: “I’m a man”. The posters were banned and France was shocked.

The number of expressions and synonyms for the posterior in French is a tribute to its importance in society, and it can be found in many French songs, from Serge Gainsbourgh to Georges Brassens.

Mr Rothschild, who co-directed the film with Caroline Pichon, said that the French were more obsessed than ever with the behind. “They are on billboards, in pharmacy windows everywhere.” But he regretted recent changes in French tastes. “Only a few years ago, large ones were in fashion. Now they must be small, almost androgynous – there’s almost no difference between male and female. It’s rather a shame.”

The prospect of the in-depth fesses study will come as welcome light relief to the French, who are in sombre mood.
As one internet commentator noted, “Between swine flu, minarets, Sarkozy and the debate on national identity, here at last is a subject that gives pleasure.”
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SOURCE OF BOTTOM


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/10/2009 at 09:26 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesFRANCEFun-StuffHumor •  
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