Guillaume Faye’s Sex and Deviance: Book Review

“A spectre haunts contemporary Western society—the spectre of sex.”

Guillaume Faye
Sex and Deviance
Arktos Media, 2014

Sex underlies our entire existence. Yet for most of Western history it’s been little discussed, though highly regulated in an unspoken code of conduct. In today’s world, sex can be talked about as casually as the latest brand of coffee or a hit TV show. “Casually” is the key word here, as rarely do the multitudes of magazine articles delve into the topic in a serious manner. Sex infuses our world, but it’s treated as a parody—something to laugh about when watching stand-up comedians, or roll our eyes at if a weird fetish like “furries” is mentioned—or it’s treated with a strange unwholesomeness, such as the way dating and hook-up culture are portrayed in films. 

It’s this lack of serious inquiry into the role of sex in our lives that makes Guillaume Faye’s Sex and Deviance such an important book. Making the work even more appealing, Faye best could be described as pagan in his views. He doesn’t advocate a Victorian prudishness when it comes to sex. Nor does he take the leap from anti-feminism to misogyny and insist on different standards for men and women. Instead, he examines the role of the family and sex from a rational standpoint and is realistic about the sexual desires of both men and women. Although Sex and Deviance examines the history of sex in the West, he doesn’t promote an idealistic return to a pre-modern society. Instead, like in Archeofuturism, his suggestions are decidedly futuristic and pragmatic.

‘Sex and Perversions’

According to Faye, sexuality in the Westdisplays a deep mental and social pathology tantamount to a fundamental inversion of the most basic natural norms” that disguises itself as “progress.” Rather than being integrated into life, sex has become a spectacle. Sex is rampant in advertising, TV shows, novels, magazines, and films (where soft-core porn scenes are the norm). According to Faye:

Of course, sexuality is at the heart of human nature. But when it is healthy, it remains implicit, natural. Treating it with so much voyeurism, objectification, insistent explicitness, harping on about it repeatedly, making it into a treatment — all this is obviously symptomatic of a collective pathology.

He cites the German sociologist and conservative Arnold Gehlen who said that second-hand experiences—spectacles—dull one’s perception of reality and emotions. As such, the culture of sex, as well as pornography, weaken the desire for sex. This is similar to Julius Evola’s observation that the modern West’s crisis of female modesty leaves men viewing a naked woman “with the same aesthetic disinterest as observing a fish or a cat” (Ride the Tiger, p. 199). 

Contrary to the sex-infiltration of the modern world, previous customs in the West like feigned modesty, restrained physical contact and flirting allowed for a greater sexual charge to be generated. Today, sex has lost its mystery. The impact of a culture of sex also has a devastating psychological effect on young people, which continues into their married life. Faye writes:

The sex act must include an aspect of ritual—something that our society has entirely forgotten. Making love is a ceremony.

The mystery and magic of sex must be brought back into our culture—via less sexualization—if the rite is to be saved for future generations.

‘Funeral Dirge for the Family’

Guillaume Faye Sex and Deviance

The cover of Guillaume Faye’s ‘Sex and Deviance’ even combines the traditional and modern

It’s apparent to everyone that European and European-American birth rates have been dramatically declining. Meanwhile, the divorce rate has risen to unthinkable highs. Faye attributes these trends to “the excessive individualism associated with egalitarianism” and, unlike other traditional scholars, traces that individualism to Christianity and the idea of “marriage for love.”

Now that marriage is for love, the bond has come to imply a sexualized type of love founded on passion. But basing a marriage on an ephemeral feeling only leads to its dissolution once that feeling is gone. With the elevation of passionate love also comes a focus on the present in every aspect. This leads to discarding traditions as inconvenient and letting one’s current desires take precedence over what’s best for future generations. Modern society is the reign of the ego in a constant state of “presentism.”

What is the ideal solution to the destruction of marriage and families? For Faye, it’s a blend of the past and future: a “golden mean” between emotional-sexual attraction and considerations of character, culture, family, and ethnicity:

The most lasting couples—an increasing rarity in Western society—are those who continue the sensible though vilified model of the bourgeois marriage that I spoke of earlier. This model enjoyed its apogee from the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century among the middle class, and collapsed suddenly in the 1960s. Based on the balancing act of the golden mean, bourgeois marriage mixed moderate but continuing sexual attraction, a mutual social and economic interest in living together, respect for the wife, a will to create a lineage, significant socio-cultural similarity, hypocrisy for dissimulating and managing adulterous liaisons (hence the importance of legal prostitution), and the building up of a patrimony to be transmitted. When the couple gets old, this leads to a habitual tenderness much stronger than the passionate and ephemeral simulation of today’s young couples.

Such unions will provide a stable, long-term emotional home for children, who too often, bereft of a family unit, turn to consumerism to fill the void.

Richard Heymann, 'Glückliche Mütter' ('Happy mothers')

Richard Heymann, ‘Glückliche Mütter’ (‘Happy mothers’)

Faye also addresses the modern problem of children as a living toy who reigns like a tyrant over the parents. Before widespread contraception, children weren’t always wanted. But today, middle class parents plan for a child the way they plan the purchase of a new car and the child “thus tends to be considered a consumer product, a living toy.” Roles are reversed as parents now try to obtain favor from the child. Schools and institutions cater to children, rather than the child striving to earn the respect of his family and community. According to Faye, “This fake parental love is the worst egoism.”

When dealing with the family, unlike other traditionalist thinkers, Faye doesn’t relegate the woman to Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, and church). He freely admits that “the idea that ‘a woman’s place is at home’ does not correspond to historical reality,” since women worked in all ancient societies (except women of the upper classes). This being the case, women en masse in the modern workforce has only served to lessen their authority over their children and the home. Women have proven they can perform men’s work outside of the home, but men cannot replace women’s roles. The end result is “the effeminate men we endure today who combine the faults of both sexes without the virtues of either.” Such effeminate men lead to women acting even more domineering and masculine, to pick up the slack. It also leads to unhappy marriages since women typically want a strong man, not a feminized, weak one. Faye puts the blame on men:

But things cannot be decreed: if men (and with them, social values) are emasculated, it is their own fault. Women are merely filling the vacuum, taking the place men have abdicated.

To halt the declining birthrate among women of European descent, Faye recommends providing a family allowance to promising young women who want to have children rather than giving money to foreigners. He recognizes that women (and young married couples) are in precarious financial situations and the choice of whether to have children is as much economic as anything.

This is another reason Faye should be hailed as one of the few scholars successfully merging the best of the past with the demands of the future. Unlike traditionalists who place the blame solely on women for not having children, Faye recognizes that in our society divorce is easy and women have to fear being alone after the breakdown of their marriage (perhaps not even their fault but due to society), He understands that for women in the middle and upper middle classes, foregoing a career seems more like a fairy tale than an attainable reality, since often such a choice ends up in financial disaster. (Despite men’s rights activists constant refrain that women can take all of a man’s money after a short marriage, divorce courts in many states have become as egalitarian as the rest of society.) Women with higher IQs understand they must work to receive full Social Security benefits in the U.S. They’re smart enough to look at divorce statistics and play things safe. This is one reason, in my opinion, why birth rates are higher among lower-class, r-selected women who don’t plan for the future. But even when women do have children, having to be in the workforce has made their lives even more difficult than before modern conveniences like dishwashers. Faye writes: 

Women of the middle and working classes must take care of the home, the children, and her work at the same time. They are exhausted by the end of the day. What is more, the man has often left the family. One reason for the low birth rate of native Europeans is the combination of this imperative for women to have a career, the devaluation of the homemaker, and the weakening of couples.

Faye sees hope in the technological advances of the future. One day women (or at least those in the low-breeding upper classes) may be able to have children without pregnancy or delivery due to incubator technology. One day our societies may fund adequate—even exceptional—daycares and schools for children so that some of the burden of childcare is removed from women.  

Legalizing Prostitution and Saving the Family

Guillaume Faye Sex and Deviance

Henri Gervex’s ‘Rolla,’ 1878, which was rejected by the Salon de Paris for being ‘immoral’

No place on earth has ever been free of prostitution, even when it’s been banned. In pagan societies it wasn’t an issue since sex was separate from marriage. Some cultures even had sacred prostitutes. Of course, Faye notes, even today it’s “difficult to find the boundary between prostitution and a woman ‘using her charm.’”

Faye advocates for legalized, regulated prostitution, and takes the Aristotelian stance that there’s nothing wrong with sex unless it involves slavery or exploitation. “How is this more degrading than renting out one’s labour power?” he asks. The answer is that, unless one is fettered by Christian mores, it’s not. The main argument against prostitution, especially by modern liberals, is that it’s exploitation and enslavement of women. Faye rightly points out that prostitution may or may not involve enslavement, just as work in the fields or factories could.

Legalized prostitution also has the benefit of helping married couples stay together, albeit with the caveat that the couples are living in a society where it’s already been normalized. For a prostitute is a hired hand, quite unlike a mistress who ends up threatening the emotional bonds of the marriage.

Faye is clear that both men and women may be in need of multiple sexual relations, and speaks of the gigolo as well as the female prostitute.

Guillaume Faye Sex and Deviance

Sir Lawrance Alma-Tadema’s ‘The Women of Amphissa’ depicts the women of Amphissa serving food and protecting the Bacchantes from an invading army

*  *  *

Sex and Deviance is an important book because it hearkens to the future. The ideas Faye outlines are pragmatic, not idealistic, and grounded in what will create the greatest flourishing for men, women and their children. However, given how immured we are with Christian values, it seems like Western society is just now starting to experiment with some of his ideas. Many of these ideas will be seen as a return to degeneracy, but Faye outlines how they can be combined with a traditional worldview.

A paragraph from the conclusion of Sex and Deviance sums up Faye’s views on these topics:

In this work, I am defending theses somewhat at cross purposes with contemporary ideological blocks. Against romantic or arranged marriage and for rational marriage; against feminism and machismo, for the economic equality of women and men which is not presently assured; against homosexual unions, homosexual parenthood and ‘gender theory’, for a guarantee that all homosexuals be left in peace; against pornography and sexual perversion, for eroticism and the establishment of regulated public prostitution; against the neo-totalitarian ideology of race-mixing, for a counter-ideology of native European natalism; for a rehabilitation of the stable traditional couple and the encouragement of strictly European natality, but also for biotechnologies, genetic manipulation, artificial intelligence, and incubator births.

Sex and Deviance is a great book, but rather a long read. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in traditional thought and how modern concepts of sex impact today’s couples and families.