As a French woman, I have to admit that in the past, I often found myself more irritated and outraged than I first wanted to admit when I heard critics talking or writing about France and the French. No one likes to endure their own country being criticized most particularly the French, who undergo a painful brainwashing beginning as early as 2,5 y/o when they are thrust into a soul-crushing education system.
Everywhere, from the media to classrooms, we’re told over and over again that we’re privileged citizens of the country of Enlightement, reason, Art and excellence – the French are the acme of human biological evolution. And we don’t hear much objective feedback from “outside”, because education and politics make sure that the French don’t learn to speak other languages properly and thus, access to international sources is very limited. Believe it or not, the French attitude is that we’re the lighthouse of the world so why should we bother to learn other languages, when everybody should speak French? Never mind that the French are only about 70 million people out of 7 BILLION. And so, French people are isolated and mind controlled by a political / educational system that does not have their best interests at heart; further, they defend it to the death!
This isolation from the rest of the world keeps the the masses of French people almost totally ignorant of many things going on “out there”, like the latest research in essential fields, such as psychology and health (France is living in the Dark Ages in these fields).
Consider that we (the French people, government, educational system as a whole, not me personally) still hold Freud-the-fraudster – who was probably a psychopath – as the arbiter of what is or is not true about the human psychological complex. A lot of otherwise educated French people still think that his psychopathic ideas (ie: children want to have sex with their parents) are valid, and certainly, that nothing of any importance in cognitive science has ever been said after Freud. This is not just sad, it is tragic and I see the suffering of my people – including myself – everywhere as a result of this one, single element of French xenophobia.
The French are known for their arrogance, a consequence of hearing from the day they are born that French culture is the best in the world, that France has a glorious past, and so on. The French dismiss any questioning of their natural grandeur as mere jealousy of other, less “glorious” peoples.
A friend of mine recently sent me The Secret Life of France by Lucy Wadham, a British woman married (now divorced) to a Frenchman and living in France for many years. Naturally, I was very interested to read what she had to say about the French.
Most of her book is spot on (except for the painful section on “antiSemitism” in France). I read with interest her chapter about French women and men/women relationships. Her observations and experiences are those of a middle-class English woman married to a member of the Parisian bourgeoisie/elite, so I don’t think we can generalise her comments to the whole population of France. Indeed, Bourgeois concerns (which merely revolve around finding a way to alleviate their boredom, mainly through “libertinage” and depravity disguised as “hedonism”) are quite different from those of the common people. Yet, as she rightly points out, it is the so-called elite who set the trends, hold themselves up as models to follow through such things as cinema, literature, magazines, advertisements, and “essays” by French “analysts” and so-called intellectuals. So for anyone interested, it’s definitely worthwhile to read her book.
France is also still very much in the grip of Catholicism, which views woman as the first sinner, the eternal temptress responsible for the fall of man. But France is also the country of hedonism and “pleasure”. How can that be? Well, for the French, this is not incompatible. Giving in to temptation is natural, no need to make a fuss about it. But make no mistake about it: it only happens because women are temptresses and thus to be repressed and no man should ever have a really intimate, human-to-human relationship with one!
Even in the so-called feminist movements born in the protests of May, ’68, the concerns are typically French. Last year, one of these “feminist” orgs launched a campaign called “osez le clito” and plastered France with sick drawings of a clitoris (which, out of decency, I won’t publish here) – the campaign was about the women’s right to pleasure. Sex and hedonism seem to be a central theme even for “movements for the liberation of women”. In short, women’s lib in France is all about more and better orgasms!
What a great way to ridicule feminism.
As one individual commented about the DSK affaire: “when sexism, machismo, patriarchy, phallocracy have just shown their power in the most blatant way, the only campaign supposed to help the women’s liberation from the double patriarchal and capitalistic domination, is THIS?”
I couldn’t agree more.
As far as real issues are concerned – like supporting women and children who have been abused by psychopaths, spreading knowledge about dangerous men, teaching about verbal / psychological abuse, France is in the Dark Ages. We have literally no literature or support groups dealing with these things!
The so-called feminist movements only scratch the surface and only deal with bourgeois or superficial concerns, like defending women who are denied entry to The Fouquets restaurant because they were not dressed appropriately. Honestly, aren’t there more important issues? Others take dubious stances, like supporting the law against the burqa, because burqa is “contrary to women’s rights”. Never mind if these women have chosen to wear it and that by supporting this law – a direct attack against the French Muslims – these feminists oppose women between themselves, and support the Western propaganda which points to Muslims as the bad guys!
At the masculine end of the spectrum, supposedly born out of a reaction against the post-68 feminists, we find a growing movement of patriarchal misogynist caricatures of men who think that all the evils of society come from a feminization (!!) of same, and that all would be well if only women went back to the kitchen and let men deal with “important things”. They point out that liberalism has forced women out of their traditional role as mothers and wives and put them to work in order to provide a cheap workforce.
Of course, it is obvious that liberalism has turned humans – both men and women – into slaves for the psychopathic elite. But some of these hardcore machos mix up the causes and the effects, and blame the victims for this state of affairs, saying that women, because they’re so weak, have become the willing accomplices of the Evil PTB in their plans for destruction of society and “traditional values”. Again, women are seen as the ultimate cause for every evil on the planet. I should point out that most of these misogynists are religious fundamentalists, be it from Islam or Christianism. We don’t find many (religious) Jews in these circles, since most of them claim to be anti-zionists. Apparently, their aim is to unite (as Christians and Muslims) to fight the ultimate evil (PTB/Israel).
For some of these caricatural masculinists, woman’s sole role is to deliver babies and take care of the house, and of course of their husband, who is the pillar of the house and should be respected as such. Women can’t do anything else, because their brain is not wired for anything else. This stems from the “traditional” idea that man is naturally born for conquest, exploration of the world, domination, and domains such as philosophy, art, all fields of science, and spirituality, are reserved to them. On the other hand, women are (or should be) naturally submissive, humble and passive and not interested in discovering the world and pondering the mysteries of the universe. Such backwards ideas are gaining a new revival in certain French Internet and media circles and among certain authors or journalists. Never mind that their assessment about the traditional role of women is wrong, and that the most ancient model of society was matrism, not patriarchy. In these primitive societies, women had an important role in social and spiritual life – as a matter of fact, most ancient shamans were women.
France being the country of “hedonism”, a lot of promoters of patriarchy want their cake and eat it too, in a sort of schizophrenic fashion: while insulting magazine bimbos and claiming to want a devoted, humble, modest wife, they mock and despise the common, normal women, all the while dreaming of having sex with the very inflatable dolls of the magazines that they insult. This points at the immaturity and narcissism of a lot of these “let’s go back to the old traditional (mythic) ways” promoters. They’re just capricious overgrown kids who expect women to conform to a sick ideal – merely, to be an extension of their own mother.
Indeed, these overgrown children seem to live in an ideal dream of some glorious past which only exists in their imagination.
To judge by the reactions of contemporary travellers, the biggest surprise would be the preponderance of women in the fields. Until the mid-to-late nineteenth century, almost everywhere in France, apart from the Provencal coast (but not the hinterland), the North East and a narrow region from Poitou to Burgundy, at least half the people working in the open air were women. In many parts, women appeared to do the lion’s share of the work.
This simple fact was soon erased from histories of France by writers who either never saw the countryside or thought it futile to make distinctions between the potatoes in a sack.
From the Loire valley to the Alps and Corsica, women ploughed, sowed, reaped, winnowed, threshed, gleaned and gathered firewood, tended the animals, baked bread, fed it to the men and children, kept house … and gave birth to more hungry mouths. …
All along the Atlantic coast, women were seen ploughing the fields, slaughtering animals and sawing wood while the men stretched out on piles of heather in the sun. In the Auvergne, in order to clear the snow, milk the cows, feed the pig, fetch the water, make the cheese, peel and boil the chestnuts and spin the cloth, women rose earlier and went to bed later than men.
Some tasks, like fetch the water, were considered exclusively female. Very little was considered exclusively male. At Granville on the Cotentin peninsula, women fished, repaired boats and worked as stevedores and carpenters; In the Alps, they were yoked to asses and hitched to ploughs, and sometimes lent to other farmers. Before the snow had melted, they could be seen scattering black earth on the thaw, and lugging baskets of soil up to fields so steep that the animals sometimes toppled over in a strong wind.
The report on Southern Normandy cruelly suggested that women were treated as beasts of burden because hard work had robbed them of their beauty: a sun-baked, arthritic creature was hardly an ornament and might as well be put to work. In parts like the Southern Auvergne, where society was patriarchal, women seemed to belong to a different caste. Tribal justice has left little trace in official records, but anecdotical evidence suggests that a woman born in the Velay, the Vivarais or the Gévaudan was more likely than women elsewhere to be beaten and raped with impunity, and more likely to be sold into marital slavery for the sake of consolidating farmland.
Further north, women’s status was reflected in address – the husband called his animals, chilren and wife “tu”, while she addressed him formally as “vous”. In many parts, while guns were fired and church bells tolled for the birth of a baby boy, the appearance of a girl was considered an embarrassing non-event.
Hundreds of misogynistic proverbs from all parts of France seemed to confirm the impression that this was a barbaric society of sarcastic, sponging bullies:
Oats to goats and wine to women is wasted wealth. (Vosges)
Marry your daughter far away and keep your dung heap close to home. (Vexin, Normandy)
A dead wife, a living horse, a wealthy man. (Brittany)
A man has but two good days in his life: The day of his wedding and the day he buries his wife. (Provence, Languedoc, Gascony, Basque country)
No female equivalent of those misogynistic sayings have survived. However, given the fact that nearly all of them were recorded by men, this is hardly surprising. And there are other proverbs that imply a certain unease at female solidarity : “At the well, the mill, the oven and the wash-house, women leave nothing unsaid”; “When a woman comes back from the stream (where the laundry is done), she could eat her man alive”.
Any of those women in the fields might have explained that none of this exactly matched the truth. The women worked because the men were in the high summer pastures, or out at sea, or on a seven-month tour of France, selling trinkets from a wicker basket. When the men returned to the harbour or the mountains, the women were naturally in charge. They organized the farms, repaired the buildings, negotiated with landowners and officials and strucked deals with traders. Often, the women were the first to migrate to the city or the plain, and the first to create an industrial economy by selling their wares to travelling marchants. Many of them had no particular reason to wait for the men’s return. Women in France are still automatically associated, in magazines, advertisements and casual conversation, with husbands and children. Yet nineteenth century censuses show that over a third of all women were single, and that 12 per cent of women over fifty had never married.
The casual use of “les hommes” to refer to the whole population is blatantly inappropriate. It is no exaggeration to say that the predominantly rural economy of France was supported and to a large extent run by women. This might explain why, despite earning half a man’s wages for the same work, women in France were often thought to have too much power and why the anti-feminist reforms of Napoleon and the Restoration government were so draconian. The Code Civil of 1804 denied married women the right to control their own property. The Code Pénal of 1811 effectively made a wife’s adultary an excuse for murder.
In “debates” (French love debates and rhetorics), you might hear something like: “sexual harassment is just insistent flirting”. Some misogynistic French journalists/analysts will criticize and mock the US’s stance on such issues, claiming that US women are hysterical witches ready to sue a man if they smile at them or puts his hand on their shoulder. Women complaining about an ex who stalks them or verbally abuses them will be dismissed as a whiner or a liar/manipulator, a harpy who wants to castrate men.
Women and men are both victims of this conditioning which make them conform to old patriarchal stereotypes: men are born to conquer, it’s in their nature, and therefore, domination and adultery are normal. Women are all about maneuvering, seduction, and subtle manipulation – the only real power they can ever have; since they are not physically strong enough to fight, they use more subtle means to achieve “power”.
Libertinage is still viewed as a virtue, something to cultivate. Adultery (for those who have the time and the money to indulge in it) is natural, it’s how men (both male and female) are made, and there’s no alternative – we have to follow nature. We are machines or worse, little more than animals driven by our lusts so why fight it?
Wherever else than in France will you see an advertisement for a car saying: “Look at me, touch me, brush me, possess me, control me, exalt me, feel me, protect me, hate me, leave me, love me, hold me back… I’m Giuletta (the name of the car), better than words, try me.” This is how French culture views women and what the mainstream media feed us daily.
In what other country than France will you see a humiliated woman (Anne Sinclair), repeatedly cheated on by her husband (Dominique Strauss-Kahn), side with him for the attempted rape of a simple maid? To be accurate, more than submission, I think that, as a member of the psychopathic class, she’s just as corrupted and perverse as him. After all, the couple regularly visited swapping clubs, which, according to Wadham, are very popular, and quite common among the French bourgeoisie. Sure, you might say depravity is what characterizes the corrupt elite, no matter the country. But in France, it seems particularly pronounced – and considered natural and healthy – contrary to the Anglo-Saxon world, where Protestantism put a heavy emphasis on guilt… so things are more “hidden”, and when they’re uncovered in the media, scandal ensues. Not so in France. We’re not supposed to be shocked by revelations about the sex lives of our elites – no matter how kinky. Politicians have a right to their privacy and what happens in their bedroom is not our concern.
Take for example the reaction of a famous journalist and head of a mainstream newspaper: for him, Strauss-Kahn’s attempted rape of a maid was just a “troussage de domestique” (which refers to the legal right of the Master, in the past, to rape inferior people, like maids or servants). He didn’t understand what the fuss was all about.
Equally shocking, the French minister of culture (and lover of young Thai boys) commented that Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13 year old girl was just “ancient story which didn’t make much sense”. Going up a notch, a famous “philosopher” said that the girl was technically not a child, but a “teenager who posed naked for men’s magazines”.
When you read or hear things like this, how can you doubt that France is very much an old, patriarchal and misogynist country pretending to be secular and using Freud and Darwin as their new apostles?
As Wadham points out in comparing cultures in France with the US and UK, due to this constant necessity to “seduce” men (which is part of our conditioning), there is no real sense of any sort of true friendship and solidarity in France.
Despite seeing nothing wrong in adultery (as long as it’s tacit agreement and remains hidden), married men often get jealous of their wives female friends. Once she’s married, a woman is supposed to “stand by her man”, and relationships with her female friends must be put aside. Due to the strong stereotypes prevailing in France – women as sex objects and men as conquerors and eternal philanderers - women tend to view each others as rivals more than as potential friends with whom they could share a real bond. Such solidarity as seen in US movies like Steel Magnolias (translated into French – with a fantastic twist – as Potins de Femmes, or “Women’s gossip”) or “Fried Green Tomatoes” is not the kind of thing you’ll see in a French movie – or real life.
Speaking of French movies, here’s what you’ll find in certain French “intellectual” movies (or “cinéma d’auteur) produced by the cultural intelligentsia. It’ll give you a idea of the French psyche.
Female protagonist: “me, I don’t like people who respect me the most, I like those who f… me the most”.
Followed by endless masturbatory, nihilistic/“existentialist” masturbatory talks about “relationships”, jealousy, falling in and out of love, and of course, sex. I’m not making it up, just check the trailer of that French “masterpiece”: link
Another gem is the movie “L’ennui” (Boredom, which could be French bourgeoisie’s fourth principle). Just to set the tone, “the movie follows the life of a bored philosopher as he becomes jealously obsessed with the much younger lover of a dead painter.”
Male protagonist: “Cecilia do you feel bored sometimes?”
Female protagonist: “Yeah.”
Male protagonist: “What do you feel when you’re bored?”
Female protagonist: “Boredom”.
Male protagonist: “Well yeah, but what is this boredom?”
Female protagonist: “Boredom is boredom”.
Male protagonist: “But wait, there must be more to it than that”.
Of course, the whole endless dialogues (or rather monologues disguised as dialogues) are interspersed with pornographic scenes. And, of course, the poster for that movie is that of a naked woman’s crotch.
The above movies were made by men, but we find even more eloquent examples of French intelligentsia’s depravity and degeneration in the “works” of post-feminist cineast Catherine Breillat: in the infamous “Fat Girl”, a young teenager is lured by an Italian sex predator into having sex with him and is sodomized in front of her less attractive sister, who apparently doesn’t mind looking. At the end, the family is killed in a parking lot by a psychopath with an axe, who spares the “ugly girl’s” life only to rape her in the woods. When she’s found by the police, she denies the rape.
Breillat exuded another piece of trash called “Parfait amour: Anatomy of a murder”. Christophe has murdered Frédérique, his lover. He’s in his 20s, an entrepreneur who likes to pick up chicks with his misogynist friend Philippe; she’s in her 30s, a doctor twice divorced with two children. After a police reenactment of the crime and an interview with her teen daughter, we go back to the start of their affair and follow it to its conclusion. Frédérique is attracted to Christophe’s sweet side; she’s emotional about her past and ambivalent about her sexuality. His sexuality later becomes an issue, as does his relationship with Philippe. Are the lovers drowning each other in attraction, expectation, and revulsion? Why does Christophe kill?”
At one point in the movie, the female protagonist says: “I like sex, but I hate myself.”
So we can see the main themes of a lot of these “intellectual movies”: sex, nihilism, mental illness, perversity, sex, and sex and just basically being an animal. Is that what the French have become? The land and people of enlightenment and superior rationality? Just rationalizing being little more than disgusting beasts? And promoting it as “elevated and refined”?
And one wonders why France is number one in the consumption of anti-depressants. Maybe that’s the way the masses of people who know instinctively that this is wrong, deal with the insanity and perversity of our so-called “culture”.
After viewing such filth, you just want to take a long shower, and watch a BBC adaptation of Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott.
This misogyny (in the case of Breillat, you could call it self-hatred) is also reflected in our standards of literature. In French literature, we have predatory male “heroes” and mentally ill writers: for example, worldly-acclaimed Baudelaire who dyed his hair green and ranted about women’s evilness, or the infamous Marquis de Sade. We praise Dangerouses Liaisons’ Valmont (popularized by Stephen Frears on the screen), the serial sex predator and rapist (but in France, we call that “Libertin”… the French DO have a way with euphemisms).
In the novel, Valmont’s accomplice is a woman: Madame de Merteuil. Raised in a society where women were considered inferior and confined to limited roles (still true today, though in more subtle forms), she could have chosen to show solidarity with other women, but instead she chose to manipulate, maneuver and, as a condition to giving herself to Valmont (again, it’s all about submission to a man), demanded that he seduce and destroy another woman (Mme de Tourvel). Like a “libertine” man, she cheats, lies, has many lovers, has neither morality nor conscience. In the end, she’s viewed as the bad guy (pun intended), not Valmont, who is redeemed in the reader/viewer’s eyes by confessing before dying that he actually loved Mme de Tourvel. Hence, he’s viewed as the victim of Merteuil’s manipulations and cruelty. Go figure.
For sure, you won’t see Jane Austen type heroes in French novels or movies. Her novels talk about sanity, and depict real men : honourable, responsable, loving, honest and committed, and female solidarity / sisterly love. Values promoted are honor, truth and decency, and honesty between people, contrary to a lot of French classics which revel in treason, deception, seduction, love/mind games and of course, sex, sex, sex.
I’m not gonna rant anymore on this subject, I think you get the drift. Just to conclude on a lighter note, and for those who still think that the old, worn out myth about the French lover still holds some validity, just read this:
When we moved to France seven years ago, I admit I was looking forward to being flirted with and having my hand kissed several times a day by Gallic charmers.
Rather as an English man only has to open his mouth for another to despise him, a French man only has to say “ello, ‘ow are you?” to come across as incredibly sexy. The accent works every time.
As the television presenter Josie D’Arby said: “A man could say anything to me in a French accent and it would send me ga-ga.”
It was the accent that first attracted me to my first (and only) French boyfriend 17 years ago. He was called Julien and worked as a fund manager in the City. He was also tall, dark, handsome and rich.
So far so good. His methods of wooing were very different from his English contemporaries. I was sent flowers about three times a week.
Ladies man: Kylie’s ex, French actor Olivier Martinez is rarely seen without a beautiful woman beside him
He would tell me how beautiful I was every five minutes and really did keep kissing my hand while gazing seductively up into my eyes.
To be honest, I found it all a bit much. As a girl who was educated at a rather downto-earth, rugby-playing university in the north of England, I thought his French ways seemed a little, well, namby-pamby.
But after all the effort he made, it seem rude not to give in gracefully and sleep with him.
I decided to go for it on the night of his birthday, three months after we met. Mainly to save on the expense of a present.
The evening went swimmingly until we got to the bedroom. To start with, he kept me waiting for about half an hour while he covered himself in aftershave and trimmed his nose hairs in his fully-stocked bathroom. By the time Julien finally got to the bedroom, I was almost nodding off.
He seemed more interested in how he looked naked than how I looked. After about ten minutes of watching him watch himself in the mirror on his cupboard door, I gave up and left, never to return to the bedroom of a Frenchman.
And it seems I’m not missing out. Statistically, it’s official; French men are bad in bed. Out of 26 countries polled, the only one below France in terms of sexual satisfaction was Japan.
In France they do have a lot of sex (120 times a year compared with 92 times for Brits), but they just don’t enjoy it. And as for orgasms, well, forget it. Only 25 per cent of French people interviewed said they were satisfied with their sex lives, while Brits reported a 40 per cent satisfaction rate.
How deliciously satisfying to discover that this preening, priapic bunch are not quite so ‘ooh la la’ after all.
Perhaps I should have realised it already. While researching a book of mine, I discovered that French women are notoriously unfaithful, and this must be why. They’re all desperately searching for that one French man who knows what he’s doing in the sack.
All the same, I was surprised when I saw the results of the poll. Even if I didn’t have a great time with my French man, I imagined them making other women all over the world delirious with desire. How wrong I was.
“French men are all show and no go,” says a Parisian friend of mine who is married to a Scot.