French dating website Gleedon is being sued for allegedly inciting infidelity among its users.
The dating site, which does indeed openly aim its services at married people, has incurred the wrath of the Association of Catholic Families (ACF), who are less than pleased with what it sees as Gleedon’s shameless attempts to undermine the sanctity of marriage.
The Association is taking aim at the site on legal grounds. The ACF wishes to argue that Gleedon’s targeting of married people undermines Article 212 of the French Civil Code. French family lawyers think the ACF may have a real chance. Article 212 in Chapter VI of the French Civil Code, which governs ’the respective rights and duties of the spouses’, does state that ’Spouses owe each other respect, fidelity, support and assistance’.
While the ACF’s president, Jean-Marie Andres, acknowledges myriad other dating sites promoting sexual contact outside marriage, his organisation is taking particular issue with Gleedon because, "its very business model is based on marital infidelity”. Perhaps the French are not as laissez-faire about extra-marital activities as we might assume from across the channel, or, perhaps the issue is a bit more complex.
The attitude expressed in Article 212 and by the ACF seems at odds with perceived cultural differences between France and England. The French emphasise a right to privacy, while the English value a commitment to integrity, particularly as far as public figures are concerned. In France, there’s an assumption that even public figures may well have affairs, but they should always be granted their privacy. The English press might argue for the right to print, for example, a story about the marital infidelities of a public figure, on the grounds that it speaks to his or her moral character.
The Gleedon case seems to turn those identities on their heads, criticising Gleedon for encouraging a moral, and indeed legal aberration from the Civil Code. Perhaps it is the visibility of the site’s aims, the unabashed way in which it announces its extramarital specialities that causes the problem, rather than the idea of infidelity per se: the site first started attracting antipathy after it advertised its services on public transport.
It’s worth noting that, while Gleedon is a French site, it has a global outlook. The customer services section of the website states, ’Our employees are fluent in all the languages available on the site (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish)’. It is by no means confining itself to the French populace. Interestingly, Gleedon also likes to assert a commitment to ’integrity’. It encourages its members to be ’honest’ about their relationship status, whether they are married, single or attached.
Could the crux of the matter be something else entirely? The BBC describes the Gleedon dating site as being ’conceived for women’, which is not an accurate translation. The site is ’pensé par des femmes’, which means ’dreamt up by women’. It’s a business founded by women for use by people of any gender (though women can join for free). The site’s services are open to people of all marital statuses, with a focus on married people.
Despite the mistranslation, it seems that ’pensé par des femmes’ is the aspect the site’s detractors have latched onto. According to the BBC report, the ACF have complained that ’It states quite openly that its purpose is to offer married women opportunities to have sex outside the marriage’.
Could it be that the problem that the website’s critics have here is not just the issue of open infidelity as such, but specifically women’s open infidelity? While there has been much discussion about the love lives of male French politicians, for example, there’s been little focus on attitudes to women in such a situation.
Whatever the root cause, it will be a matter of the judges’ discretion, and the outcome seems impossible to predict.