Although its results were published a little over a year ago, the study has been hitting the headlines throughout 2015. Romain Dessal, managing director of the highly successful newsletter « Time to Sign Off » (TTSO), echoed the findings on October 19th in his trademark style : quoting Gleeden’s assertion that 46% of its users had knowledge of their own parents’ infidelity, Dessal advised his readers to « call Freud to the rescue if their partner (didn’t) buy the genetic excuse ».
And a timely study it is indeed for the perpetrators of infidelity caught red-handed looking for absolution. One can’t help thinking of the unfortunate spouses whose data was recently made public after the hacking of the Ashley Madison online dating service (the site is marketed for people who are married or in a committed relationship looking for “discreet encounters”). Gigabytes of data (including customers’ emails, names, credit card info, sexual fantasies) made available to all. The personal data of millions of careless and ill-advised users, considering the incident revealed that only a few thousand women had in fact registered on the site… most accounts supposedly opened by women being either inactive or constituting fake profiles. Talk about a promising market: selling fantasy to men genetically programmed to fantasize!
The scandal was bound to have repercussions. The American Secretary of Defense in person issued a press release vowing to prosecute military users of the site. There were suicide and extortion attempts. But what really puzzles the French nationals that we are is the Anglo-Saxon inclination to confess one’s sins and ask for forgiveness in public. Two strong advocates of family values, a star of reality TV and a Christian Youtuber2, thus both staged their confessions and their wives’ forgiveness after having been caught. Should we understand the desire for redemption is genetic too? Our French tradition, as illustrated by the DSK scandal a few years back, would indicate the reverse.
Seriously: who could believe infidelity is motivated by genetics? Who else than someone for whom it would be crucial to bypass the scandal of desire, ignore the fact that nothing will ever guarantee a permanent or exclusive relationship? Someone willing to exonerate himself of his responsibility regarding his own jouissance.
The growing scale of genetic explanations in the deciphering of human conduct bears witness to the mad dream which involves substituting desire and its wiles with an algorithm that would never go out of control.