Reality is much more interesting than fiction, says journalist Silvia Galipeau. She demonstrates this week after week with the column “Derrière la porte”, which she has been writing for eight years in La Presse, where she tells the small or big stories of love and buttocks of ordinary people. Fifty of these testimonies are now collected in a book that offers a true portrait of sexuality.
Talking about sex is seemingly easy. Just put the word sex in a title to be read. Which is all the easier when a report focuses on the sexual practices of its fellow citizens – with supporting figures. We read it to compare ourselves, hoping perhaps to console ourselves, but certainly out of curiosity. Everyone is interested in sex. Or almost.
Talking about sexuality in a meaningful way is not as easy as it sounds. Silvia Galipeau also remembers that it was the questioning that gave birth to her now famous column “Behind the door”. With other artisans of the now defunct Pause notebook, including the author of these lines, she sensed that talking about sex would be a good vein; it was just a matter of finding the right way to do it.
“The idea of doing a survey was in the air, but we said to ourselves: what will it bring to our readers to know that Quebecers make love on average twice a week in the missionary position? “, she says. The real border to cross was that of the bedroom door, where intimacy is lived. The idea imposed itself: to invite people to confide, without filter, about their sex life. Whether sulphurous, just naughty or even boring.
These people who confide in Silvia indeed tell of their failures as well as their successes, their dry breakdowns as well as their follies.
There are people who, after almost eight years, criticize the journalist for only talking about “buttocks”. That’s not entirely true: the sex lives Silvia recounts are never disembodied. Never reduced to parts of legs in the air. Her approach is enthusiastic (she’s a big sneer), but sensitive and thoughtful.
“Is that voyeurism? she asks herself even before being asked the question. I think it’s healthy voyeurism. I think it’s education. It de-stigmatizes a lot of practices like swinging and BDSM, she analyzes. We have such a standardized vision of what sexuality should be that it’s a kind of counterweight to what we think we should be. »
Compiling a collection from the hundreds of intimate stories she has told over the years has been a tedious process, Silvia admits. She opted for general themes: happy couples in bed, ways to get out of the routine, relationships with variable geometry, sex work, celibacy and seduction, identity and sexual orientation, the quest of orgasm and abuse. “I wish I didn’t have to, but I couldn’t get past the assaults. It was necessary, she says, like talking about sex work was necessary, because it exists. »
What makes her column meaningful, she says, is just that: it casts a wide net. Without judging. “I don’t censor myself, but I draw a line,” she says. Sometimes people are very crude in their descriptions and I’m not telling everything. I do not find it relevant to detail the positions, for example. I keep a modesty, I go there more with emotion. »
If it was not easy to find people ready to tell their stories when the column was launched, the proposals now arrive directly in his inbox. Some want to help “educate” others (about practices like polyamory or what it is to be non-binary, for example), others seek to break free from a secret.
“I have lost count of the number of times people have said to me: I never told anyone that. Last week, the person I met even told me that she hid what she told me from her shrink! she wonders. I think it does them good to tell each other. And it makes people feel good to read them. »