Okay why the hell do people think French people are like 100% “sexually liberated” and have orgy every weekend?
Where the hell does this stereotype come from?
It comes mainly from the manners of the Parisian elites during the 18th century onward, it was somehow reflected in novels such as The Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos and other libertine novels.
This stereotype became really widespread at the Belle-Epoque: Parisians weren’t extremely sexually active but there wasn’t really any separation of gender in public spaces. Women and men could hang, and even gently flirt, together even if not married or related, something that was more frowned upon in more puritan countries like Britain or Germany. Because of this, foreign visitors - as Sigmund Freud, he spoke a lot about this in his letters - often had this impression that Parisians were sexually promiscuous. Add the fact that both prostitution and homosexuality were allowed in France, resulting in famous underground business and counter-cultures, and you got this reputation.
And since both Foreigners and Parisians have a really hard time to remember that France isn’t Paris… We all got this image of perverts, even if there is a lot of conservatism about sex in France (see the anti-gay marriage demonstration last year). Even more, these stereotypes mainly came from how relationships between men and women were perceived. In fact, even in Paris, until the 60-70’ties, young girls weren’t allowed to go out unsupervised and both children born out of marriage and their mothers were rejected and vilified. Not a lot of differences with our neighbours…
And stereotypes last: before the D-Day, American officers thought that it was a good idea to motivate their soldiers using this stereotypes about our so-called “sexual promiscuity”.
“[France is] a tremendous brothel inhabited by 40 million hedonists who spent all their time eating, drinking, making love and in general having a hell of a good time." - Life Magazine.
It resulted in more than 3,500 rapes… How women accused of having sleep with German military were treated after the Libération also speak a lot about how the French perceived sexual liberty back then…