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Thursday, 19 May 2011

L'affaire DSK : Can Frenchmen be trusted?

The enticing Dominique Strauss-Khan case is hard to ignore. One of the latest suggestions for a set-up to replace the head of the IMF, explains how DSK's plans for the IMF's use of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would end the USA's ability to print off their debt. Juicy!

Putting aside honey-pot speculations to oust the IMF leader, Sarkozy conspiracies to frame one of the favoured socialist french presidential candidates, and all the natter about privacy laws and the fact that DSK's lawyers were surprised because the alleged rape victim was "not very attractive", not to mention plenty of other sex attack allegations against him resurfacing and the fact that he probably feels he can do what he likes... I've become most enthralled with the way the whole DSK case has brought to light the topic of the french chaud lapin. ("horny rabbit")

Sex, Politics and a bit of privacy
Ben Macintyre's fascinating article "France's unfaithful servants of the people" in yesterday's Times, outlined the seductive necessity of french politicians and how they can easily get away with compulsive womanising thanks to the protective privacy laws. According to his research, all post-war French presidents serving their country in the last century, sauf Charles de Gaulle, have had adulterous affairs, are pretty-much womanisers and have happily pursued the fairer sex just because they can. Power and sex thing happening there I suppose, making the most of their alpha male status. Yet it probably wouldn't work in the UK as it would be happily aired in public. But shouldn't we adopt the french more private way, where an adulterous affair be kept between two spouses to decide who knows about it and spare the emotions of the cheated rather than shouting about it from the rooftops?

Sexually inhibited?
The other difference that sets us aside from the french is how blogger Anne Penketh describes an "eternal clash of civilizations between the sexually uninhibited French and the puritanical Anglo-Saxon world". Now, I'm not sure if the UK shares the puritanical title as much as the US, but the frenchmen certainly wear the label of loverman proudly. I remember being shocked in my first week in Paris for my first work placement, by the confidence of the guys in chatting up girls and innuendo after innuendo even in the office! But this isn't about sexism in the workplace or even about the much talked about french obsession with sex. Well OK just a bit - their penchant for producing aphrodisiacs (food, wine, perfume, pretty underwear, sexy knowledgeable beings...), their supposed liberalism, the phallic Eiffel Tower, art, poetry, and well, any sexy word we have in the english language is of french origin. But it's more about the french people having a confident attitude to sex and not seeing it as a taboo.

After work romp
Yes it's a stereotype. Frenchmen can be chauvinistic, arrogant, notably old-fashioned and find it hard to appreciate a woman as an equal. But they're romantic, intelligent, and know how to 'woo' a woman. However for the male image of a woman is often of a mother or a lover and difficult to find an in-between. French ladies are supposedly more feminine, intelligent, chic and confident and are apparently happy to play the part of the lover. So, this is the part that scares me! The cinq à sept, a concept I learned about when reading Stephen Clarke's A Year In The Merde a few years ago, is between 5-7pm when frenchmen visit their mistresses - after work and back in time for dinner! This has apparently changed to 2-4pm (who monitors these things?!) to suit longer working hours and so that women can also have fun while kids are at school ;)

So there I was thinking I'd come across a horrible discovery that was known to all french people - and that further down the line on our return to Paris he might take a mistress! Luckily my darling husband said it's all bollocks and had never heard of it! Well thanks goodness for that. I know it's a touchy subject, but would you rather know if your man had a mistress, just accept it and carry on with happy families or not want to know? It just seems a bit inconceivable. Perhaps you'd take on a lover and play the game. As long as it's brushed under the carpet a bit and the kids don't get involved... But then there are successful households where this works (the original ménage à trois) like E. Nesbit's co-habiting with her husband Hubert Bland and his mistress Alice Hoatson and her 2 kids - but they were proper socialists... would that work today... Why is this even in my head?

On a final note, American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, suggested that in a hundred years time we will have three mates: "one for the adolescent urges, one for child bearing and one for companionship" Edith Kunz, says that this is how it's been in France for a long time... Is this where we're heading?

1 comment:

  1. an interesting post. I think politicians are the same across the world. Power is an aphrodisiac!