The answer stems in part from the fact that Matzneff was a “Child of ’68” — i.e., a product of the left-wing “May 68” movement that shook France in the 1960s. These radicals subscribed to the idea that anything smacking of traditionalism or bourgeois morality was backward.
Conventional sexual morality was part of the same rotten edifice as imperialism and racism. True liberation meant not just freedom from, say, capitalism, but also from the old-fashioned view that sex with kids was wrong. “It’s forbidden to forbid” was a rallying cry.
Some argued, Onishi writes, “for abolishing age-of-consent laws, saying that doing so would liberate children from the domination of their parents and allow them to be full, sexual beings.”