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Slavoj Žižek (born 21 March 1949) is a communist Slovenian philosopher, cultural theorist and public intellectual.
Žižek has made negative and condemnatory statements about pedophiles, but also speaks positively about the revolutionary past of Daniel Cohn-Bendit as it relates to young people's sexual freedom. In 2002, Žižek wrote:
In a recent pamphlet against the "excesses“ of May ‚68 and, more generally, the "sexual liberation" of the '60s, The Independent brought back to memory what the radicals of '68 thought about child sex. A quarter of a century ago Daniel Cohn-Bendit wrote about his experience as an educator in a kindergarten: "My constant flirt with all the children soon took on erotic characteristics. I could really feel how from the age of five the small girls had already learned to make passes at me. ... Several times a few children opened the flies of my trousers and started to stroke me. ... When they insisted, I then stroked them." Shulamith Firestone went even further, expressing her hopes that, in a world "without the incest taboo ... relations with children would include as much genital sex as they were capable of — probably considerably more than we now believe." Decades later, when confronted with these statements, Cohn-Bendit played them down, claiming that "this did not really happen, I only wanted to provoke people. When one reads it today, it is unacceptable." However, the question still hovers: How, at that time, was it possible to provoke people, presenting sexual games among preschool children as something appealing, while today, the same "provocation“ would immediately give rise to an outburst of moral disgust? After all, child sexual harassment is one of the notions of Evil today.
Without directly taking sides in this debate, one should read it as a sign of the change in our mores from the utopian energies of the ‚60s and early ‚70s to the contemporary stale Political Correctness, in which every authentic encounter with another human being is denounced as a victimizing experience. What we are unable even to conjecture today is the idea of revolution, be it sexual or social. Perhaps, in today‘s stale times of the proliferating pleas for tolerance, one should take the risk of recalling the liberating dimension of such "excesses."
In his 2018 scholarly article Provocations: The 1968 revolution and our own, he speaks approvingly of the radical spirit of the 1977 French petition against age of consent laws, signed by most major 20th century French intellectuals including Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, René Schérer, Guy Hocquenghem, and Gabriel Matzneff.
In April 2023, he wrote a short piece - Suck My Tongue, Crush My Balls - addressing controversy around a viral video where the Dalai Lama can be seen asking a seven-year-old boy, at a widely attended public ceremony, to give him a hug and then "Suck my tongue":
The immediate reaction from many in the West was to condemn the Dalai Lama for behaving inappropriately, with many speculating that he is senile, a pedophile, or both. Others, more charitably, noted that sticking out one’s tongue is a traditional practice in Tibetan culture – a sign of benevolence (demonstrating that one’s tongue is not dark, which indicates evil). Still, asking someone to suck it has no place in the tradition.
In fact, the correct Tibetan phrase is “Che le sa,” which translates roughly to “Eat my tongue.” Grandparents often use it lovingly to tease a grandchild, as if to say: “I’ve given you everything, so the only thing left is for you to eat my tongue.” Needless to say, the meaning was lost in translation.
In his philosophical framing:
[W]e have all now gotten a glimpse of the Dalai Lama as our “neighbor” in the Lacanian sense of the term: an Other who cannot be reduced to someone like us, whose otherness represents an impenetrable abyss. Western observers’ highly sexualized interpretation of his antics reflects an unbridgeable gap in cultural understanding.
But similar cases of impenetrable otherness are easy to find within Western culture. Years ago, when I read about how the Nazis tortured prisoners, I was quite traumatized to learn that they even resorted to industrial testicle-crushers to cause unbearable pain. Yet lo and behold, I recently came across the same product in an online advertisement.