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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vie de Meuf

I have read elsewhere that there is a very silly book out there that was released a few months ago by an American woman about "The Game of Seduction" here in France.    I went on Amazon and found it straightaway.  I'm pleased to see that it is already been discounted and I sincerely hope that those who actually bought and read it didn't take it seriously.

My view is, that of all the topics one could choose to write about concerning France, this is probably the least interesting one but the most likely to fulfill prurient Anglo-Saxon fantasies about France and the French.

A book like that deserves a counterpoint and I believe that I have just the ticket.  Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Vie de Meuf (A Chick's Life).

This is a project of Osez le féminisme (Dare Feminism)  and their objective is to:
"mettre en lumière les inégalités femmes - hommes qui persistent dans notre société. En 2011, en France, les femmes gagnent en moyenne 27% de salaire en moins, assument 80% des tâches ménagères, représentent 18,5% des députés, constituent 85% des travailleurs précaires, sont victimes de violences au quotidien (chaque année, 75 000 femmes sont violées en France) et sont obligées de se coltiner régulièrement les blagues machistes encore fortement en vogue.."
"Shed some light on the gender inequality that persists in our society. In 2011 in France women earn 27% less then men, assume 80% of household tasks, represent 18,5% of deputies in the Assembly, hold 85% of precarious jobs, are the victims of violence on a daily basis (every year 75,000 women are raped) and are obliged to submit regularly to macho jokes that are still very much in style..."
This is fascinating reading not because there is something special about it happening in France to Frenchwomen (you know, the ones that are ostensibly supposed to be enjoying all this attention and special treatment) but because it is all too familiar. The stories you read on this site could be from anywhere in the world. Here are a few examples:
"Lors d'un pot de départ d'un thésard, je discute avec le collègue qui partage mon bureau :
- Moi: Moi, je ne repasse jamais. Je déteste le repassage.
- Lui : Hein ??? Mais mais mais... comment il fait ton mari ?
Manifestement, une femme ingénieur ça ne le dérange pas du tout, au contraire, il trouve ça bien et admirable (nous avons toujours eu de très bonnes relations de travail). Mais qu'elle ne repasse pas les chemises de son mari, c'est inimaginable..."  
"During a cocktail for a graduate student, I am talking with a colleague with whom I share an office: Me: I never iron. I hate ironing.
Him: What? But but does your husband manage?
Obviously a woman engineer doesn't bother him a bit. On the contrary, he finds that quite admirable (we have always had a good work relationship). But when she doesn't iron her husband's shirts, well, this is just unthinkable.... "
"Je remplis une fiche d’inscription pour mon enfant au collège et il y a des paragraphes " 1er responsable" et "2eme responsable". Dans la première case du premier responsable il y a juste marqué "nom" alors que dans la deuxième il y a marqué "nom marital suivi du nom de jeune fille". Pourquoi seulement dans la deuxième case?" 
"I am filling out a registration form for my child at middle school and the first paragraph simply asks for the "Primary parent or guardian's" name. In the following paragraph however where they ask for the "Second parent or guardian" they request the "marital name followed by the maiden name". Why only in the second case?"
"Dans les couloirs du métro, ce matin, un homme m'a mis la main aux fesses. C'était un inconnu qui est parti en riant... J'étais impuissante, j'avais l'impression d'être un objet." 
In the corridors of the metro this morning, a man put his hand on my ass. It was a stranger who left laughing... I was powerless and had the impression that I was an object...
Outright violence and blatant harassment are horrible and I think we can all agree (whatever our political and ideological stripes) that that sort of thing is unacceptable and criminal whether it happens to men or to women. This week a gentleman was killed on the Paris metro helping a young woman defend herself against a harasser.

However, do not discount the petty and demeaning sorts of provocation and the small daily indignities that women have to deal with on a daily basis in France and elsewhere. "Seduction?"  Read Vie de Meuf and then come back and tell me again how wonderful the relations are between men and women in France and how very much these ladies are enjoying the game.

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