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The Jehoshua Novels


Chacun a Son Vie

 

 

Here is the difference between the US and France in a nutshell:

French President Francois Hollande has said he is experiencing a “difficult moment” in his private life, following claims of an affair with an actress.

But he refused to answer questions over the report, saying “private matters should be dealt with privately”.

Mr Hollande was speaking at his first news conference since the allegations in the magazine Closer last week.

He said he would clarify whether Valerie Trierweiler was still first lady before a February trip to the US.

Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had said that, as President? He did say something similar – while still denying the allegations of an affair with Gennifer Flowers – as a candidate but that was when he was barely a blip on the primary calendar in 1992.

The stereotype of a successful Frenchman having at least one mistress in a pied-a-terre overlooking the Seine is legendary, and mostly accepted by the French with good humour. After all, this is a nation with a long history of monarchs and nobility with legendary prowess at bedding women, most notably the exploits of Casanova.

For the French domestically, this is minor fluff: a beautiful woman replaced with another beautiful woman by a man of power and charisma.

For the French internationally, it’s a nightmare. Take another look at that last paragraph. For a nation whose language is still the language of diplomacy, to insult the wife of a leader of another powerful nation by bringing a mistress along will be viewed as tawdry and unseemly by the opposition, and to take a wife one is about to divorce, or so the story goes, is humiliating to the wife.

And of course, Hollande to go stag would be nothing more than a reminder of his “man in a suitcase” status.

To M. Hollande, I offer a solution: bring your daughter Flora with you. An adult woman to escort you would force the American (and local opposition) press to shut up about it during the trip, and Flora being your daughter with Ségolène Royal disentangles you from the current nebulous status.

And sir, may I further salute you on your taste in women…

7 comments to Chacun a Son Vie

  • adrena

    Oh my fucking God … this is a disgusting post. It is clear the patriarchy is alive and well and continues to rule with an iron fist over all matters concerning culture, especially human sexuality.

    I hope Valerie Trierweiler gives Hollande such a vicious and hard kick in the ass that it will be heard across the globe.

    And, um, legendary prowess at bedding women? I suppose this makes all women legendary sluts.

    • Maybe it’s the last line you find offensive, since it implies at least acceptance (if not outright envy) of the well-known French cultural pattern of extra-marital affairs and the habit of some people – French or otherwise – to take sexual liaisons casually (assuming they are taken casually – not being privy to what goes on between them,we don’t really know, do we?)

      Quite frankly, I don’t care who Hollande goes to bed with. It’s none of my business and nobody’s business beyond the people directly involved. For some strange reason, I feel no compulsion to apply my personal moral/ethical standards to everyone else.

      Do men with wealth and power and abuse their position? Sometimes. Do women in similar positions do the same? Sometimes. We needn’t look beyond personal integrity for an explanation.

      I also don’t grasp your supposition that the fabled ability of the French (man or woman) to indulge in amatory affairs ‘makes all women legendary sluts’. Is a Frenchman having a mistress more slut-generating than a French woman being a mistress? Than a married Frenchwoman having an affair?

      Do you find people screwing [presumably - supposition on our part], in or out of wedlock or any variations thereon to be be inherently patriarchal and demeaning to women?

      I would note that the example of [Italian] Casanova is less an matter of Patriarchy than about being a scumbag who didn’t give a damn about anyone or anything but his own pleasures. He would have been equally a scumbag if his attentions had been directed at goats instead of women.

      I agree that in many areas the historical transition to male-dominated culture has created problems, but I seriously doubt that the prior female-oriented cultures were entirely blissful Edens either. People are people and some of them – male and female – are not what we would like.

      You are a feminist, which is fine and good. You’re not an ‘ardent’ or ‘rabid’ or ‘assertive’ or ‘aggressive’ feminist. You’re a downright Hostile Feminist. I suggest you might begin to start to consider to commence to think about the possibility that being so extremely vociferous may just be somewhat counter-productive and alienate people who might agree with your general position but are put off by your hostile approach to the issues.

      “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

      • adrena

        Maybe it’s the last line you find offensive, since it implies at least acceptance (if not outright envy) of the well-known French cultural pattern of extra-marital affairs and the habit of some people – French or otherwise – to take sexual liaisons casually (assuming they are taken casually – not being privy to what goes on between them,we don’t really know, do we?)

        No, I found a lot offensive including the highlights chosen for some of the links “beautiful” (women) and “charismatic” (Hollande). The second link leads to an article that couldn’t be a better example of female misogyny. Relying on women themselves to criticize each other and to police female sexuality is a powerful patriarchal tool that is employed here. There’s no mention in this article of Trierweiler’s past “prowess” in bed … only contempt and schadenfreude for her current situation, as expressed by the author who projects her personal opinion onto the entire French female population. Certain newspapers and magazines will only hire those female writers that support the patriarchy and this author, Dr Brooke Magnanti, adheres strictly to the prescribed narrative. The fact that the author of this post provided a link to this article speaks volumes about his view of female sexuality.

        Quite frankly, I don’t care who Hollande goes to bed with. It’s none of my business and nobody’s business beyond the people directly involved. For some strange reason, I feel no compulsion to apply my personal moral/ethical standards to everyone else.

        However, while you personally don’t care, a post that so blatantly gloats about Hollande’s sexual privilege and entitlement appears on the front page of the Agonist without even a mention of the fact that Trierweiler is in hospital with shock and that the actress is in hiding. These women’s experiences are erased by silence – the patriarchy doesn’t care about how women feel. This story is exclusively about men and their dicks.

        Do men with wealth and power and abuse their position? Sometimes. Do women in similar positions do the same? Sometimes.

        This is an ingenuous comparison. In a patriarchal system such as ours, it is men that possess most of the wealth and power. A mere 8.4% of the world’s billionaires are women. And btw, marrying a wealthy man is often utilized by women as an escape from the eternal drudgery of housework and 24/hr childcare – it has nothing to do with sex.

        I also don’t grasp your supposition that the fabled ability of the French (man or woman) to indulge in amatory affairs ‘makes all women legendary sluts’. Is a Frenchman having a mistress more slut-generating than a French woman being a mistress? Than a married Frenchwoman having an affair?

        I was merely imitating “patriarchy-speak” to emphasize/highlight my point. As far as I am concerned, the word “slut” should be banned from the English language.

        Do you find people screwing [presumably - supposition on our part], in or out of wedlock or any variations thereon to be be inherently patriarchal and demeaning to women?

        Good heavens no. What is patriarchal and demeaning is that only women engaging in such activity are often shamed for this behavior, not men. An old quote of Tina springs to mind, “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man ~ Anon”.

        I would note that the example of [Italian] Casanova is less an matter of Patriarchy than about being a scumbag who didn’t give a damn about anyone or anything but his own pleasures. He would have been equally a scumbag if his attentions had been directed at goats instead of women.

        I agree, Casanova was a supreme narcissistic jerk.

        I agree that in many areas the historical transition to male-dominated culture has created problems, but I seriously doubt that the prior female-oriented cultures were entirely blissful Edens either. People are people and some of them – male and female – are not what we would like.

        At least, the prior female-oriented cultures did not cause societies to collapse. Your point strikes me as a somewhat flippant dismissal of the effect of the prevailing patriarchal system – the pain, inequality, and tragedy it has inflicted on/and continues to inflict on humankind. It is the patriarchal/capitalist dyad that is making our world so violent and unjust.

        You are a feminist, which is fine and good. You’re not an ‘ardent’ or ‘rabid’ or ‘assertive’ or ‘aggressive’ feminist. You’re a downright Hostile Feminist. I suggest you might begin to start to consider to commence to think about the possibility that being so extremely vociferous may just be somewhat counter-productive and alienate people who might agree with your general position but are put off by your hostile approach to the issues.

        If you had made your point without resorting to an ad hominem (Hostile Feminist), it would have been more diplomatic.

        But, I admit, my response should have been more muted. I am extremely hostile to male sexual privilege and entitlement as it is the root cause of inequality in all aspects of society. In order for men to keep their sexual privileges and to deny these to women, minute differences between the two genders are magnified ten times over and distorted. As well, the extreme sexual objectification of women, girls, and now babies continues to deny women sexual agency. This is how we end up with a society in which one (or a group) controls the other. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again … liberate female sexuality and you will plant the seed for an equal, just, and peaceful world.

        “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

        Point well taken.

        Btw, my occasional use of the “f” word for emphasis I learned from Don.

  • Celsius 233

    My 2¢ worth:
    Sadly there are two victims of patriarchy; firstly women and secondly men. Or is it the other way round?
    Women are put in a double bind situation. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Just who established what is the proper demeanor for “feminine” etiquette? And what the hell is that? Who schools women on how to behave and their proper responses when women feel and express anger? Patriarchal societies like America have spent the last 30 years suppressing anger in general which leaves almost no avenue for justified anger expression and even less so for women. And I don’t recall the last time I heard a woman telling another woman she was out of line with her angry response to some gender put-down or slight. Act like HRC and you’re labeled a bitch, or worse a harpy. Condeleezza and Susan Rice know this all too well (I don’t like their {HRC as well} politic[but they're all strong women]). I have often thought that being a woman was akin to being an ethnic minority in the way they are treated by those in power; which just happens to be men.
    Men are just as trapped as women by patriarchy, but by the very nature of their entitlement; they are like fish in water asked to describe water. Fish do not know they’re in water; how ever could they describe it? Patriarchal behavior encourages macho, *manliness*, and if men dare to show their feminist aspects, they are often called sissies. And it traps us (men) in society’s (which becomes our) stereotype of women. I would venture that it takes men a lifetime of awareness to stand away from these gender traps. Women have a similar but different battle/struggle also, and are at a distinct disadvantage by comparison. We’re human of course and that gives us a unique ability; self awareness and introspection, but only as possibilities/potential.
    Chauvinism (both male and female) has no place in a healthy community/society; the most advantageous posture would be an egalitarian relationship to other. The question is; do we have the intelligence, vision, and will to that end? A quick look around will incline towards the negative; but there is no reason we as individuals can’t nurture that possibility.

    • adrena

      You’re absolutely right, Celsius … the patriarchy damages both women and men. The only ones that benefit are the big corporations that, very early and with strong determination, begin to drive a wedge between men and women. For example, in 2014, little girls and boys are treated as though they are two entirely different species by toy marketers. Children pick up these gendered messages and police each other’s behavior to conform. This is then promoted as “natural” by those that make huge profits from enforcing gender apartheid and by those too afraid to deviate from this distorted norm lest they don’t “fit in”.

      But there is a movement underway to fight back. Melissa Atkins Wardy has written a book that offers parents a step by step approach on how to fight the stereotyping and sexualizing of girlhood, from birth to tween. Her small son asked her to write a book for boys as well which she is contemplating. I follow her on Facebook (Pigtail Palls Ballcap Buddies) where I get to read about the problems faced by the many parents trying to navigate their daughters and sons through a toxic culture.

      A poll taken a long time ago indicates that the majority of the Agonist readership is over 50 – well beyond early childcare stage. But if you’re interested in changing the world then this is a perfect book for your children and/or grandchildren to help them fight the corporate monsters that are trying very hard and succeeding in driving men and women apart … FOR PROFIT!

  • Celsius 233

    Oops; “…and if men dare to show their feminist aspects…
    Should be feminine, not feminist.

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