(CNN)The French do not care about the extramarital affairs of their politicians; but they do care about being told that they should.
That was on display Friday when President Emmanuel Macron's candidate for Paris mayor pulled out of the race after it was alleged he sent explicit content to a woman who is not his wife.
While withdrawing his candidacy on Friday, Benjamin Griveaux said he and his family have endured "defamatory statements, lies, rumors, anonymous attacks, the disclosure of private conversations that were stolen and death threats" for over a year.
"Yesterday a new stage has been reached: a website, and social networks relayed vile attacks on my private life," he said in a televised statement. "My family does not deserve this." Griveaux did not deny that he had sent the explicit videos.
His resignation enraged many in France -- including his political rivals -- who decried what they feared was an assault on France's liberal attitude to sex.
"I do not like this Americanization of political life in which politicians come and apologize because they have a mistress, we don't care," Alexis Corbiere, a senior member of radical left-wing party "France Insoumise" told CNN affiliate BFM.
Sébastien Chenu, a politician in Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party, said the "Americanization of political life is detestable," on Twitter, adding that nothing could be gained by its voyeuristic "puritanism."
Even the current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo -- who is running for reelection -- called for the "respect of privacy" in a statement to BFM. "This is not worthy of the democratic debate we should be having," she said.
Art meets politics
Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky admitted to publishing the text messages and 30 second explicit video alleged to have been sent by Griveaux to the unidentified woman.
The content was published on a website, shared on Pavlensky's Facebook page, which invites users to send "correspondence, photographs or videos" of a sexual or pornographic nature sent by "civil servants and political representatives" who impose "puritanism on society."
Pavlensky is famous for his acts of protest, including sewing his lips together over the jailing of the Russian feminist protest punk band Pussy Riot -- for their part in a performance critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin -- and nailing his scrotum to Moscow's Red Square.
He justified the move as a way to reveal the hypocrisy of a candidate who espouses "family values," Pavlensky told the French daily Liberation.
"He is someone who constantly relies on family values, who says that he wants to be the mayor of families and always quotes as an example his wife and children," he said. "But he [Griveaux] wants to be the head