Natural Women? Anti-Feminism and Michel Houellebecq's Plateforme

Sweeney, Carole. 2012. Natural Women? Anti-Feminism and Michel Houellebecq's Plateforme. Modern & Contemporary France, 20(3), pp. 323-336. ISSN 0963-9489 [Article]

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Michel Houellebecq's novel Plateforme (2001) satirically proposes Third World sex tourism as a remedy for sexual dissatisfaction in the West brought on by feminism's destruction of ‘natural’ gender roles. As in Houellebecq's previous work, feminism is lampooned both as a sex-negative censorial force and as a kind of mercenary libertarianism. Plateforme more fully elaborates this position suggesting that feminism is simply an affective projection of neo-liberalism, responsible for an injurious and ‘unnatural’ sexual behaviour that has destroyed kinship relations and contributed to the socio-economic emasculation of Western men. As part of the novel's Swiftian ‘modest proposal’, the narrative sets up a Manichean opposition in which an essentialised ‘natural’ femininity, represented by Thai sex workers, is set against the ruined sexuality of Western women. This article examines the ways in which the novel's ostensibly anti-capitalist critique invokes a quasi-primitivist discourse on sexuality that returns women to a pre-Foucauldian essentialism of the ‘natural’ which offers a site of sanctuary and solace for a masculinity besieged by the neurosis of post-'68 sexualities.

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English and Comparative Literature
Research Office > REF2014



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Date Deposited:

29 Oct 2013 13:06

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2017 10:49

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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