French Catholics Launch an Unholy War on Internet Infidelity

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Angry French Catholics in the chic upmarket city of Versailles have launched a crusade against a dating website that specializes in promoting marital infidelity. The Association of Catholic Families (AFC) is suing Black Divine, the publisher of Gleeden, an online platform that puts an extramarital spin on its matchmaking. Gleeden was supposedly designed by women for women, but it is run by two French brothers, who, for whatever reason, have incorporated their business in the USA, where both of them reside. Gleeden (a tongue in cheek reference to temptation in the Garden of Eden symbolized by a half-bitten apple), began in 2009 and is thriving. There are 2.3 million members in Europe – about half of them in France.

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“Being faithful to two men is being twice as faithful.”

The AFC has obtained over 20,000 signatures demanding that Gleeden’s posters be removed from public buses and metro stations. So far, they have succeeded in a few towns west of Paris such as Versailles, Poissy and Rambouillet. The Parisian metro, however, will not take down the Gleeden ads. The official charge that the Catholics are using against Black Divine is that promoting marital affairs violates Article 212 of the Napoleonic civil code which states that “married couples owe each other respect, fidelity, help and assistance.” Mentioning Napoleon and fidelity in the same sentence is a bit of an oxymoron. He and Josephine were openly cheating on each other long before the internet was even thought of – they didn’t need any “platform”. Adultery was business as usual in their empiric circle. And, since 1804 when the civil code was passed, French presidents have also done their devilish part in practicing infidelity in their marriages – I could name names but it’s all proud public knowledge. Let’s talk about what Gleeden does specifically.

First of all, Gleeden’s slogans are cute and sassy. Here are just a few examples: “As a matter of principle, we do not offer a loyalty card.” “Being faithful to two lovers is being twice as faithful.” “Having a lover costs less than anti-depressants.”        Gleeden claims to be an adultery specialist; it sells itself, not as a matrimonial agency, but as a “high-end social platform where married and engaged adults may interact.”

"How about this year you cheat on your lover with your husband?"
“How about this year you cheat on your lover with your husband?”

The opening pages on the website encourage the user to take reasonable precaution when communicating with other members, reminding them they are using Gleeden “at their own risk.” This site, this world community, can help one arrange for a fun evening, a flirtation, a soul-mate, or a true friendship anywhere in the world. It was created to give a sense of belonging to the married community; to help people who need to evolve in a discreet environment. The site even includes a panic button which you can use if you are interrupted by your boss, wife or husband – the button will not leave any trace of your misbehaving. Gleeden thought of everything.

Gleeden can be satirical too. An example of this can be found on the registration page where it says , “You must be honest in your marital status – Integrity is the foundation of our work.” I couldn’t believe it. And then I could.

Adultery is no longer a reason for divorce in France (the law was changed in 1975) so this actually makes sense. It certainly wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a market for it. In France, Gleeden is most popular with finance executives and doctors. There are also huge increases in French women visiting the site during the World Soccer Cup, World Rugby Cup and the Tour de France. No surprises there.

Assuming that the French are the forerunners in the adultery department, I naturally thought that Gleeden was the first of such web dating services. I did a little research and discovered the existence of Ashley Madison, a married couples dating service which began in 2001 and is based in Toronto. So, for once, the Canadians upped the French.

"Thanks for your loyalty", another sassy slogan from Gleeden - recently removed from Versailles buses.
“Thanks for your loyalty”, another sassy slogan from Gleeden – recently removed from Versailles buses due to the French Catholics’ petition.

I also found out that the public transportation system in Toronto would not allow Ashley Madison to advertise on their streetcars. Canadian public officials thought encouraging adultery was morally offensive, comparing it to inciting students to cheat on their school exams – just plain wrong. Speaking of immoral sanctions, in 2009, there was a French website called “domyhomework.com”, which would supply students with finished school assignments for a fee. It was forced to close almost as soon as it opened due to protests from National Education officials and angry parents and teachers.

I guess, in France, cheating on exams is different from cheating in a marriage. In France, they strongly believe that children should not be encouraged to cheat – cheating should be left to the adults.   So, if you’re an adult in France looking for where to go to cheat, just take the Parisian metro and follow the apple – the Gleeden ads are still there – at least for now.

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