Thursday, February 02, 2012

Bloody Marvellous British Women

As we've all had enough of hearing about perfect French women, lovely though many a few of them are, and navel gazing our faults, let's hear it now for bloody marvellous British women!

I thought I'd write a post in celebration of what British women do best. We may snack between meals and wince at the thought of a fag and black coffee as sole nourishment until a modest portion of lettuce and tomato at lunch time, but we're damned good at other stuff that doesn't mostly involve staying skinny.

As I thought you wouldn't believe me, or would think I was being unscientific if I just gave you my thoughts on the subject (not that it usually bothers me), I engaged with the Twittersphere and Facebook. I was agreeably surprised at the quality of the responses and the rather charming picture they painted of the bloody marvellous British woman.

 I got many responses suggesting British women are the first in line to party. Meena on FB wrote that we like to let our hair down and don't take ourselves too seriously. Louise at @HelpinFrance agreed: "I think we are more laid back and have a lot more fun", as did @WendyBoyrie - we "laugh and have a good time.....oh and laugh at ourselves....". I think the last is a particularly attractive trait and not often found 'elsewhere' (who said 'in France'? Come on, own up, this is not a Frog bashing blog, not this post anyway!). Sharon on FB agreed "We know how to have a joke and don't take ourselves too seriously".

Moving on, our culinary skills were mentioned. For Sarah @Piglet33, "we make a good pie and can always be relied on for a cuddle. We can also drink most nations under the table". Aww, I feel a bit teary. Anya, on FB declared that we make "Better birthday cakes? I hate those yoghurt cakes". I quite agree, Anya, fruit cake is tops! As is a nice Victoria sponge, with butter filling and icing, and what could possibly beat Christmas cake, eh? Nothing, that's what!

We even had a man who entered the fray. Graham @Greyadder said "well from my observations kind and patient" - very underestimated traits those. He also said that we "get a letter from the queen when [we] get to 100 and on every birthday after". Beat that!

Susie @WAPIFARASI added some spice to the debate "I think we might be better spankers", she said, basing her idea on an interview with Kiera Knightley. See? Fun fun fun, that's us Brits! Unfortunately other nationalities just don't get to hear about how marvellous we are because our marvellousness is not considered book worthy. 

Catharine @catsceats decided that what makes us bloody marvellous is how good we are at "making friends for starters!" Louise @HelpinFrance agreed "The mutual support from my British & Irish friends here in France is amazing. I don't think many French women have a network like that".

As for our parenting skills, Jacqueline on FB said "We also know that children need a decent bedtime. They shouldn't eat too many sweets and they should go to the dentist regularly." She added "We are also big enough to accept there are other ways of doing things other than those we were brought up with, some of which may be better. We are also brave enough to try them!" We are also brave with our clothes according to Meena, as we are "more individual in our dress sense...".

I then looked elsewhere on the internet for other pearls of wisdom. To be honest, I was not inundated with information. The only article of any relevance was one written by Toby Young for the Telegraph. Toby describes us as having 'natural diffidence' which is 'deeply attractive'. We also have charm which, as Evelyn Waugh once said 'is a quality that doesn’t exist outside the British Isles'. We possess 'understated confidence and sense of self'. He says that 'There’s something very reassuring about a quietly competent British woman. She may not be much of a showboater, but you know that once she’s set her mind on something there’ll be no swaying her from her course.'

Another characteristic you'll often find is an indifference to wealth and status, together with being straightforward and down to earth. I responded to Toby's article at the time with the comment:
"It's so refreshing to read an article not telling us how wonderful women of other nationalities are compared to British women who are fat, badly dressed scroungers and drunken sluts.We are always being vilified for not having French elegance, American polish, or Italian style and have to be instructed how to be something we're not. These articles are often written by women.

It takes a man to bring things back to earth and tell us that the external (polish, style, elegance) is much more appealing if it's accompanied by some common sense, humour and self-deprecation."

As I live abroad, one thing I've observed is our more natural way of being mothers and wives. We are not so role-conscious. Of course, some high-powered yummy mummies are, but they are not typical of the more laid back approach we generally take to being mothers and partners. There's no such thing as benign neglect in France, for example, or if there is, I've never seen it happening.

We prefer to be comfortably stylish rather than angular and sharp-edged, a look better suited to our larger Anglo-Saxon frames and natural tendencies towards soft curves.

We can be as much one of the lads as a good friend to women, with our fab sense of humour and enjoyment of the pub.

Let's face it, British women are bloody marvellous, but the grass is always greener on the other side of the Channel (/Atlantic) and it's well-known that people never appreciate to its full worth what they have near to hand. Looking over the water one sees differences; at a superficial view, one sees what is best about those differences and because they are exotic, it's easy to miss the not so good bits that are lying underneath. If other nations can refrain from comparing their womenfolk negatively to the women of other nations then I really think we can too. Starting with our own women, traitors to the sisterhood just out to make a supposedly easy buck, and the masochistic types who buy their books to beat themselves up with even more.

So let's say to the world STOP with the books telling us how crap we are, and STOP with the books telling us that the [insert nationality but especially the French] are perfect and so much better than us.
We are not and they are not. 
That is all.