I have been getting my knickers in a twist this week as a result of an article my mother sent me from Blighty. It was a Daily Mail article on French women in their Femail section.
The crux of the article was that French women are basically perfect, but that British women are better company (even though they are fat, dowdy and stroppy).
So I wrote to the Mail to express my désaccord with the views of their journalist.
"I also live in France, just north of Montpellier and I am writing to express my annoyance at the continuing myth of perfect French women that your journalist propagates in her articles. Anyone who has been to France for more than 5minutes knows that she is talking a load of twaddle.
Her articles talk about a tiny minority of French women who probably all live in the 16th arrondissement of Paris or equivalent in the provinces. Your journalist, who lives in a backwater in the wilds of upper Languedoc probably has one in a catchment area of 50miles and she owns a second home and visits it 3 times a year.
It's this gross generalisation that really gets me riled. All French women do this, all French women do that. NO THEY DON'T. If your journalist wants to make British women feel even more insecure and unattractive than they already are, she's doing a great job.
I work with normal French women who don't wear make-up to work and go around in ill-fitting jeans and crappy old pullies. No, they don't look elegant or even attractive. They just look like ordinary women who can't be bothered to make an effort. Like so many others!
Stand outside your average school gates, like I do every day. What do I see? That skinny, chain-smoking stick of an anally-retentive, bad-tempered old bat of a French cow? No, I see ordinary women, with perhaps a little make-up but normal clothes on normally-sized French female bodies. The rich bitches are the nearest ones who fall into your journalist's description.
I also take exception to the assumption that French people are bonking everyone else's wives and husbands. Just where does this come from? Again, that rarified little black hole of infidelity and spite that goes on in one spot in Paris. Outside Paris, people have as much time and energy to pursue such sport as in the UK. Which means they go to work, collect the kids, make dinner (from frozen ready dinners, not the fresh food bought that morning at the market, which in any case is only there twice a week) and collapse in front of the tele. Sound familar? Of course it does, it's what 90% of British families do too.
What your journalist could be doing is telling us that one of the reasons that many French women look good in clothes is that 1) they have smaller frames, 2) they stand up straight with their shoulders back, and don't slouch like most British women do as though they are apologising for their very place on this earth, 3) they are concerned about their weight so eat accordingly, but even this is losing ground if you consider the rise in obesity and overweight bodies walking around, 4) they often take exercise even if it's only walking. As I said, the days of the freshly-prepared exquisite little bon plat as a daily occurrence are gone. You only have to look in the frozen food sections of the supermarkets, and at the ready-meals available. There are way more than when I first came to France in 1989.
French women do breastfeed, otherwise the lactarium in Montpellier would be empty. You can hardly say on the one hand that French women care for the well-being of their offspring, and on the other that they don't breastfeed because they don't want to spoil their tits or their husbands might go off with the bitch next door or the au pair.
Your paper should be trying to improve the nation's women, not gunning down their self-confidence even more. You should put your journalist out to grass in her backwater pasture, or get her to change the perspective of her articles."
Funnily enough, my letter was not picked for publication, but I was thanked for writing. So I wrote back and said no problem, I hoped that the journalist in question would receive a copy of my letter as criticism is so useful...
OK, I know this was written a year ago, but I know exaclty what you mean. I get tired of sterotypes. It happens all the time to Americans. Like you, I am from Britain, living abrad bu tin the SAtes. I get to so tired of reading gross generalisations of Americans, as being obnoxious, gun toting and fat! Funny, but such articles strike me as pretty rude in themselves. As you say, all it takes is to live somewhere for a while (even "5 minutes") to realise just how silly it is to categorise an entire group of people so flippantly.ReplyDelete