Another session of the 50a50 Reading Club with the work “Consent”, by Vanessa Spignora

The second session of this year’s 50a50 Reading Club revolved around the autobiographical work by Vanessa Spignora, “Consent”.

In this piece, the French author narrates in first person the abuse she suffered at the age of thirteen at the hands of the French writer Gabriel Matzneff, aged fifty-one. With this narrative, which describes the control and manipulation exercised by Matzneff and the consequences of this relationship throughout the author’s life, Spignora brought to the table the sexual abuse of minors, and society’s inability to react to such a situation. In fact, during the play she accuses French society of looking the other way and tolerating pederasty.

During the session, led by Anna Mercadé and Cristina Oliva, a relaxed debate was opened on the story of guilt in abuse, the constant manipulation exercised in this type of relationship, social impunity, and power relations.

As Cristina Oliva explained, the author gives a rather crude account of the abuses experienced and, above all, of the lack of social mechanisms to deal with these situations. However, Cristina Oliva points out that “it is insufficient for me”.She adds: “Society is what is most disgusting in all of this; the mother, the school, public opinion. I missed the need for it to be more explicit, for it to talk more bluntly about what happened”.

Likewise, during the talk, the vulnerability of adolescent women in these cases was highlighted, as well as the author’s pain almost thirty years after the abuse. As Anna Mercadé pointed out, the history of women is consent, which for many years has been our obligation. It is the consent of society as a whole.