21 February, 2010

Women in France

The story goes, and I can find quotes in all the books I've read, that it is impossible to have a "real" French female friend. Women don't go out to dinner together, they dress to attract men, and they feel that it is the crazy Anglo Saxons that insist on freedom and equality for women, that they don't need it. Why? In their words, they don't compete with men. Okay, so let's take a look at reality.

French men do little housework. Women have to work outside the home, because one salary doesn't cover the cost of living here. According to a poll in 2005, men do six hours of housework and the women do 16 hours a week. If they have children, the men do 13 hours and the women do 24 hours a week. Women go home after work, make dinner, clean up afterwards and then help the children with their homework, which is extensive. If we are talking Paris, then the family lives in a small apartment. So the husband or partner doesn't have a lawn, garden or a driveway to shovel. Any foreigner who criticizes that system is or must be an Anglo Saxon feminist, which is spit out like a snake---by women. And if that Anglo Saxon has a French boyfriend, he is looked on with pity.

French women dress very well. They use little make up when they're young, and frankly they don't need it. But every woman they meet is considered competition for their husband's or boyfriend's affections. Foreign women even more, so because they are EXOTIC. How can you be friends with someone you think might steal your mate?

I  remember my mother's words when I was a teenager. "Never trust a woman to tell you the truth about the dress you're wearing or the makeup you have on.They are all jealous of one another and the only woman you can trust is your mother or your sister." My mother had three sisters, so she had built in female friends. But thank goodness the sixties changed those attitudes.

I have a number of good friends around the world: Americans, Danes, Norwegians, and Germans. Absolutely no latins: we lived in Italy for nine years and I was never able to make a real Italian friend. Sadly for these women, they can never experience the fun of an evening with women, friends who sympathize with you and your problems. Men  will never understand you the way a woman does.

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