An I HATE FRANCE! Post
“You have a lot to offer and perhaps the French
need to see themselves for who they really are.”
– my Mom.
It didn’t always start out that way, how can one not be enchanted by living in a new country rich with culture, beauty, and history?
Then reality set in.
We have all heard the expression, the grass is not always greener on the other side, well let me tell you, it’s not. It seems like all the expressions from yesteryear's turn out to be true. Thanks, Mom.
There is a story that has been circulating for years about France, and although, I may butcher it, it goes a little something like this......
When God created France, he was very pleased with himself. France is neither too hot nor too cold, she has both the Pyrenees and the Alps Mountains, beautiful and vast forests, winding rivers, she is not landlocked and is semi surrounded by the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranian Sea.
She was beauty perfected, perhaps too perfect, God may have thought. And because of this, God figured he needed to create some sort of balance, and in his ultimate wisdom and genius, he created the French. Thanks, God.
Perhaps it is not forthcoming to make generalizations, much less stereotype the French; however generalizations and stereotypes are based in fact. (A fact, that may or may not have been exaggerated at some point or another)
That said, this section of Frenchified...sort of is my experience and truth. It is an American prospective of my life in this crazy country. I may be burned at the stake for sharing this, however as French history tells us, I will probably be canonized a couple of centuries down the road. I find, St. Jennifer d’America, who spoke the truth and said NO to injustice, has a nice ring to it. And here is the truth… et rien que la vérité.
How Fitting the National Symbol of France is Le Coq
Le coq, the cock, or to be accurate the Gallic cock is the national symbol of France. After speaking with a native, she told me that it is the only bird that has his foot in the merde, but still carries his tune.
Again, how appropriate.
This got me to do a little research on the bird. The nice thing about France is that if you travel in any direction for a couple of kilometers, you’d find several homes with a nest on their property.
You would have to admire the life of a chicken. They have a purpose, (I’ll take the breast and a leg, please!!) they are social, and from what I saw on the surface, live a carefree life. Until, I looked a little closer. I never gave much thought as to the social order or life of chickens, but France gives you the opportunity to see things in a different light, whether you want to or not.
After speaking with a woman who owns a couple of chickens on her property, she described to me interesting, albeit, funny stories from the observation of her chicks, for example, why did the chicken cross the road? (dumb I know, couldn't resist!) She recounted stories and facts about “Pauline et Paulette,” their means of communication, their habits, their personalities, and for her, watching “the ladies” interact was better than watching any trashy soap opera. She relayed her distress to me when both had lost a number of feathers, which come to find out that meant they were upping production on laying eggs. (I didn’t know that!)
I’m sure you have heard the term, ‘pecking order,’ which stems from the social order of chickens.
Come to find out, these future tasty treats are mean bastards. Usually there is one dominate (alpha) rooster, the “coq of the walk” so to speak. This coq has the luxury of mating with most of the hens and the duty to guard the flock. The coq usually chooses his mate, making her the dominant hen. This power couple has the privilege to peck the others in the flock, yet no one dares to peck them. Then, the flock establishes a pecking order descending to the lowest chick on the totem pole, which gets pecked by everyone, but doesn’t peck anyone back.
This got me to also think about French history, their association to the rooster, and the pecking order of France today.
After doing some reading and research, I found out a wealth of information just by asking the right questions -- THIS IS THE KEY TO LIVING, SURVIVING and THRIVING in France!
French court and the King establishing a pecking order, sadly it still exists (in spirit) today.
The Sun King - Le Roi Soleil
King Louis XIV’s (otherwise known as the Sun King) elaborate rules of etiquette included the following:
The Sun King moved his court to Versailles (Ver-Sigh) from Paris to establish control over the nobles. He may of thought that if the nobles were spending so much time in Versailles learning the etiquette of court, then they could not spend time at home thinking of ways to overthrow the King.
This is the reason why so many etiquette rules were established, the Sun King was keeping order!
French Rumors and Stereotypes!
A few months back, I met up with the girls for dinner and drinks. After a couple glasses of wine, my tongue unleashed and I spewed all my frustrations about French life. (How French of me!) It was probably not my best moment, however I am happy to report that it is not just me, plenty of French people feel exactly the same way I do, they just have more panache!
I believe that some stereotypes are based on truths, albeit exaggerated truths, still truths. Is it naïve or bold of me to say so? I pose the question for pondering sake, yet in the end, I really don't care, the truth is the truth, the good, the bad and the ugly. As any intelligent person knows, there are several sides to the truth! So let's discuss it.
Let us have an open dialogue so that we may see and know that we are more alike than different! I feel the ONLY THING that truly seperates us is geography!
Below, I have compiled a short list of typical stereotypes and rumors about French people, life and culture. So without further ado, let us discuss these fallacies!
1. The French are lazy.
Personally, I hate this stereotype, which is why I started with it! First off, EVERYBODY is lazy at some point in their lives! Recently, an American tire CEO showed his true colors and insulted my adopted country. I was beyond insulted and embarrassed by this. You can read the story here.
In the TIME article, it reads, the CEO of the Titan International tire company “French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours.”In doing so, Taylor mockingly dismissed French government invitations to invest in a struggling tire factory in northern France.“How stupid do you think we are?” Taylor asked in a letter sent to French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who had asked the CEO of the Titan International tire company to invest in a money-losing Goodyear plant in Amiens.
Classy, right! The American in me understands that the bottom line is money, yet at what expense? French people are hard working and productive, and they should not be treated as subpar humans for having different values. It made me sick to read that article and sicker to read people's comments on the story. Corporations are legal slave traders. The idiot who made the comments above, bragged about going to China or India and paying workers less than a euro an hour. Seriously?
May he be treated as harshly as he has (and continues) to treat others.
2. The French are all sex-crazed smokers who stink!
Oh please! Don't be so stupid and blind! It is not true and if it is, WHO THE F CARES! It does not affect you, and if it does, walk on! Sorry you were inconvenienced for five seconds! And so what...the French MAY be sex-crazed, they MAY be smokers, they MAY stink... IF THEY ARE/DO, at least they are not embarrassed about it or hide it. It is what it is! N'importe quoi! On a very personal note: the day I met my future husband. He was the epitome of a French stereotype, nonetheless, we fell in love! Is he a sex-crazed smoker who stinks?!! At times, but not all at the same time!! Ohhhh la la! wink-wink!
3. French people are rude.
Weeeelllllll...It is not true, yet I have been agast at some very rude comments uttered to me, mostly by administrators. (The French complain about this too!) Rudeness has no boundaries! If ANY person from ANY culture is rude to you, please remember that it is THEIR problem not yours. However, you must not make yourself a target for rudeness! If you decide to visit France (please do! you will LOVE it) educate yourself on all of her beauty and grandeur! Attempt to speak a little of her language, France and her people will embrace you like a long lost lover and friend, I promise! IF you are in France and IF you feel insulted, just smile and say, "bonne éducation" and walk on!
4. French women do not shave. In fact, they wax!
I don't know when, where or how this rumor started. IF you must know, and this is true of most women, perhaps the exception being professional bodybuilders who compete year round, WE SOMETIMES DON'T SHAVE! Personally, I do not shave during the winter months! Hello?! It is just common sense, I need all the insulation I can get! TMI?!! Walk on.
5. The French hate Americans.
Really? This is completely untrue! Open any American history book and read about France coming to the aid of America during the Revolutionary War. Go on, I'll wait! - - - The reason The United States of America IS The United States of America is because of France! So... next time you see a Frenchie, say MERCI! And, most importantly, when the 4th of July rolls around, raise your glass and toast to the French! Tchin-Tchin!
6. The War, Always the War....
Rudyard Kipling, famously said about the French: "Their business is war, and they do their business." And a quick glance at France's history shows business is booming:
Since 387 BC, France has fought 168 major wars against such badasses as the Roman Empire, the British Army and the Turkish forces. Their track record isn't too shabby, either: They've won 109, lost 49 and drawn (or as close as you can "draw" a war) 10 times. Professional boxers have been crowned world champions on shittier records than that.
And while it is true that France surrendered to Germany relatively early in WWII, that was only because they hadn't picked themselves up after WWI yet. And WWI (despite being an entire "I" lower) wasn't exactly an anemic playground chickenfight--the French suffered about 5.7 million casualties (the war killed or wounded an incredible 37 million people worldwide).
So yes, the next time around they let the Germans take over officially, but they never actually stopped fighting:
the French resistance was one of the most enduring symbols of Nazi opposition in Europe. The resistance was the originator of the archetypal trench coat wearing merchants of bloody death you see in countless action movies and video games today. They blew up bridges, staged daring night raids, slit German throats -- while looking fantastic while doing it.
And not a damn thing's changed since then: France is the most underestimated military force in the world, with the third highest military spending on the planet and an estimated 300 nuclear warheads at their disposal.
So knock off the "coward" talk!
I hope I opened your mind about the French, even though I really want to punch them in the throat from time to time!
I feel if we have a conversation (over wine preferably) about these delicate subjects, negative stigmas are automatically destroyed. Food for thought: We are more alike than we are different, and if we continue to make seperations
(a THEM vs. US mentality) then we are not the evolved species we claim to be.
Bonjour et Bienvenue!
Thank you for stopping by for a spell!
I am a 40-something year old American woman. Born in Texas, raised in Las Vegas!
Frenchified for Life
is a fabulous little lifestyle blog about truly embracing French life!
My intent is to simply inspire you to create something unique and beautiful in your everyday life. The French have this wonderful and annoying habit of seeing the world through rose colored glasses, might as well learn something from them!
That said, I lift my glass to you!
By the way, I mention the name Cachou (or The Cash) a lot, I'm referring to her...