Before I start this post: let me clarify, I do not believe I am particularly attractive and I believe this situation would happen with almost every girl the same age – especially pale, blonde ones.
When people used to speak of French men I had an image in my head of wonderful tanned men with beautiful hair, slight stubble, a sexy accent and the ability to cook very, very well. Or at least (I hoped) that they’d look like the man in that beautiful Audrey Tautou Chanel advert…
Of course, the average French Joe Bloggs isn’t probably like that, but I did find the reality a bit startling. What alarmed me the most was the open sexism which I faced when I was in France, compared to England.
In England if you’re a young woman you’re sort of used to “rude boiz” on the tube perhaps staring at you, but most of the time will just talk to their ‘gangsta’ friends rather than approach you. Most of us have been occasionally beeped at by cars, and being whistled at by builders on building estates is an embarrassing (and for some – not me – flattering) experience. Nonetheless, I found this sexist, cat-calling mentality much more open in France.
When I lived in Antibes, in the South of France, I would have men stopping their cars and insisting that I take their number. I would walk the 40 minute walk to school every day and would hear men shout a comment or two as I walked down the street. One time a man followed me on a twenty minute walk to the train station insisting I go on a date with them.
In Paris the mentality was similar. I have been to Paris at least 10 times before, but many were with a former boyfriend. Although I had many men staring at me they were warned off by the male presence. When we went to Paris this weekend, however, it was a different story. On each metro I would have men – old men, black men, white men, young men, fat men, thin men, – all LICK THEIR LIPS at me. A few kept winking at me. Another stared at my chest so much I had to cover that whole area with my hands. When we walked about 10 metres down the road we would have men screaming “beautiful”, “sexy” etc. Do they really think women will turn around?! When has it EVER happened that when a man goes “hello ladies I love you” that the woman TURNS AROUND, and says “OH, TAKE ME NOW, RAVISH ME HERE, I LOVE YOU TOO”?!
When we were standing on a metro a man stood so close to my friend that he was pulsating against the back of her for fifteen minutes as she was edging away. As we disembarked the metro he did the same to me, and I can only pray it was a phone in his pocket.
The point is, this behaviour is DISGUSTING. I know a lot of men in France aren’t like this, but from what I’ve seen and experienced, it is a lot more prominent than in the UK. Is it because we looked so much like tourists because of our (on Kayleigh’s part) incredibly pale and (on my part) pale and pasty skin and my incredibly blonde hair? Have you ever experienced anything like this? Would you say that French – and mediterranean men – have a lack of respect for women than in the UK? Or do you conversely believe that the UK is more sexist? I’m going to post a blog post soon from a few interviews and opinions from people who have lived abroad and how men treat them. I know sexism still occurs in Britain, but from my experience it is definitely worse in over there than here – but do you? Please comment, I’d love to know!