The young girl in the cinema or the ravages of a myth

They looked beautiful and young on screen. They seemed happy, liberated and free. They were 13 years old, 14 years old, 15 years old, 17 years old, 22 years old. They embodied youth, desire, independence. And now some, having become adults, tell of a trap. Flavie Flament, Vanessa Springora, Adèle Haenel, Charlotte Arnould, Judith Godrèche, Isild Le Besco do not belong to the same worlds, they were not the same age, they knew each other little or not, but they tell the same story , that of a lie and a youth torn to pieces.

Read also | Actress Isild Le Besco recounts the “destructive influence” exercised by director Benoît Jacquot

These women, each in their own way, dissected what happened to them. Vanessa Springora, in The consent (Grasset, 2020)described the trap of the child molester (here, Gabriel Matzneff) who makes his victim an accomplice – ” You loved Me “. The journalist Hélène Devynck portrayed in Impunity (Seuil, 2022), on the PPDA affair, a system that turns young women into dolls and silences them, of which she herself was a victim. Judith Godrèche, by producing her series in 2023 Icon of French Cinema (Arte), come back on her journey from child-object in the hands of filmmaker Benoît Jacquot to woman who takes over the reins of the story.

All highlight the solidarity of these “families” – of cinema, media, art – who protect their great men. “It is not what we are forced to do that destroys us, but what we consent to that chips us; these tiny shames, of consenting daily to reinforce what we denounce”, wrote Lola Lafon in Capsize (Actes Sud, 2020), another story of an abused young girl.

The ingénue in search of freedom

Since the beginnings of #metoo in France, many women who have spoken out have recounted a coming-of-age novel with a tragic outcome: that of a girl, from prepubescent to young adult, who crosses paths with a man much older who, under the pretext of introducing her to an art or a profession, possesses her against her will. This fantasy has been expressed throughout literature and cinema, right up to the caricature of the nubile girl in a velvet jacket, bangs in her eyes and a Sade novel in her pocket. Today, these girls, now adults, denounce him. They did not consent. They had no choice.

This is what was written in 2017, in The Atlantic, American actress and director Brit Marling, 41, who was one of the many actresses to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault: “Part of what motivates you to sit in that chair, in that room, enduring harassment or abuse from a man in a position of power is that, as a woman, you rarely imagined you would experience any other fate . In most of the novels you have read, the films you have watched, the stories you have been told since birth, women meet a tragic end. » Because the figure of the young girl is a pillar of culture and irrigates our imagination.

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