French men have traditionally been seen as more romantic, desirable and charming than their British counterparts. Is it their accent? Their dress sense? Their skills in the… kitchen? Whatever it is, many people go crazy over the idea of a rendezvous with a smooth-talking monsieur. But it seems to me that these seductive, silver-tongued gentlemen are a myth. And if not, where are they hiding? Because I’ve certainly not come across any…
This charm could be better described as overconfidence, overbearingness or just plain creepiness. Of course it would be unfair to suggest that all French men are like this and I’m sure there are some genuine, respectful French men out there. But where I’m living in France, they seem to be an endangered species.
Here, maintaining a macho front is higher on many guys’ list of priorities than respecting women. Unfortunately, this old-fashioned culture seems to be quite wide-spread in the south of France. There have been several occasions during my time here when I’ve been in situations where I feel pretty uncomfortable because of this. Not to say this hasn’t happened to me in the UK, but anyone who knows me will say I have no qualms about standing up for myself and giving back as good as I get. But here, this is really quite difficult when you’re not speaking your mother tongue and you’re in an unfamiliar environment.
To give you a better idea about what the men are like here I’ve grouped them into three different types.
Mr Wet Wipe
He speaks to you for five minutes and he’s in love with you. He says he’s never met anyone like you before; you’re a ‘real woman.’ Obsessed. He wants to take you out there and then. Tomorrow? The day after?… Erm no ta. Then he’s heartbroken, he can’t sleep at night, he buys you bread to try and win your heart (no joke, this actually happened to me.) This guy just has too much unnecessary emotion. It’s really embarrassing.Mr Staring Problems
The name says it all really. But he takes many forms. He’s an old man sitting at a table outside a café, smoking a cigarette. He is a fifteen-year-old collégien waiting at a bus stop. He is most guys at a bar…Whoever he is, he stares at you walking down the street as though he’s never seen a female before. You feel self-conscious and don’t know where to look. Your cheeks prickle as he whispers “t’es belle, je t’kiffe”, just loud enough for you to hear. Plain and simple, he’s a creep.
This guy has absolutely no shame. He is relentless. No matter how many times he is rejected, he still has hope that you’ll change your mind. He will come up to you at a bar, ask you for a dance. You refuse, but he takes your hand anyway. He doesn’t understand the concept of loyalty. “I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend” doesn’t put him off in the slightest, he only tries harder. “It doesn’t matter, you’re not married.” “Err so? He’s not here right now.” “I don’t care if you have a boyfriend.” This guy is slimy and desperate.
Speaking with some of the other girls on their Year Abroad in France at the moment, they have all encountered Mr Wet Wipe, Mr Staring Problems and Mr Can’t-Take-No-For-An-Answer. Now, the idea behind this post was not to worry people about coming to France and it certainly wasn’t to slate all French men (honest!) It was to dispel the myth that they are all so charming and irresistible. And to make you aware that France doesn’t quite have the mutual respect between men and women that Simone de Beauvoir would have hoped for. Quite frankly, I was shocked at the behaviour of some men here when I first arrived and I wished someone would have prepared me. If, unfortunately, you happen to come across any of these guys, show them that British girls won’t take any of their merde.
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