International Writers Magazine:
More extreme examples,
such as Joan of Arc, who was so contrary to male-dominated society that
the French and English establishments of the day vied to send her up in
smoke; or Charlotte Corday, who was pleased to puncture Marat with a dagger
over some trivial matter having to do with guillotines and the French
Revolution, will not be addressed for purposes of this essay in favor
of the garden variety recalcitrants who hold up half of the French sky.
Dean Borok - real power revealed
of money can induce a French woman to go along with the program
if its against her nature. Sometimes her resistance
can be passive, as in Diderots La Religieuse,
wherein the young novitiate refuses the priests injunction
to accept an oath of poverty, chastity and dedication to Christ
and is subsequently locked away by the nuns, to Molières
School For Wives, where the young Agnès attempts
to defenestrate herself rather than succumb to the advances of the
much older Arnolphe.
Contrary to the Anglo-Saxon female, who can be faithful to a fault and
impossible to get rid of barring an enormous financial settlement, the
average French woman will use whatever resources happen to be at hand
to avenge herself on the male oppressor. The most obvious and commonly
used weapon brought to bear is, naturally, sex. An overbearing male
cuckolded by his woman can go down in flames like the Titanic, sunk by
the ballast of his own ego. This apprehension of finding out that
there are other mules kicking in his stall, as Muddy Waters so poetically
termed it, has been a primal fear of men only second to castration, and
it extends to other primates as well, as any sea lion or bush monkey will
testify. Lions and gorillas routinely murder any offspring they
suspect is the product of extracurricular activity.
Geneticists ascribe all this playing around on the part of females as
a strategy for endowing their offspring with the strongest genetic inheritance,
but the poet in his contemplation can conjure up other, equally compelling
motives, among them revenge at their being born into a supporting role
As Arnolphe frankly instructs Agnès in The School For Wives,
Men and women are partners in life, but not equal partners.
Men rule and women obey.
Being brought up in such a school is bound to stimulate the perversity
in any independent nature, and Agnès finds her weapon in Horace,
who is young and handsome. Even after being found out by Arnolphe,
Agnès, knowing she holds all the trumps, confesses to him sweetly
and quietly. No screaming and histrionics here. What difference
if the knife is slipped in cleanly between the ribs rather than a hacking
butcher job? She destroys her erstwhile oppressor with almost a
Sometimes a woman will lay low a man for something that was done to her
by a previous man, or in anticipation that he will eventually deceive
her. Maybe she wants to get one up on him just out of general principles.
Men generally dont pursue such convoluted strategies in their extramarital
affairs. Generally its just a case of straightforward animal
aggression that motivates a man to go after a lot of women like a caribou.
But in the case of women there are always tactical considerations.
My first girlfriend in New York was a married woman named Claire.
She was Spanish, from Bolivia, and she had married a WASP banker for social
position and respectability. This banker, Thomas, had a triumphalist
Anglo-Saxon mentality that drove Claire crazy, and she used to bitterly
complain to me between our bouts of sexual gymnastics about his arrogant
smugness and rituals of self-satisfaction. It meant a lot to Claire
that I was broke, a struggling assistant designer, as though having a
liaison with somebody beneath Thomas social class were yet another
pin to stick in his voodoo doll. Finally, she left him for another,
more highly placed banker, and shortly after she got rid of me too.
The bed is a battlefield fraught with minefields and barbed wire, and
the woman chooses her instruments of seduction with the same loving care
that a man uses to select his weapons of war. Nobody goes through
that much meticulous preparation unless there is an element of aggression
involved. Aggression toward other females because her goal is to
assert domination over them, and aggression towards men, whom she must
dominate to assemble the elements of survival and procreation.
Rejection of powerful males is a very satisfying factor in the female
game of one-upmanship. Dressing for success also means laying low
highly placed males. How many times have you heard, So-and-so
tried to make it with me but I told him I wasnt interested.
This option is not available in the animal world, where the dominant male
generally gets his way, as well as being the case in primitive human societies.
But in the western world, with its values of equality, female aggression
toward powerful men is protected by the judicial system and given its
French-English animosity, which extends at least back to the many English
invasions of France and probably a lot longer, is not a negligible factor
in these latest culture wars. Add to that the natural Anglo-Saxon
attitude of punitive superiority toward the rest of the world in general,
and its a shock that any romantic relations would exist between
French and English at all. But they do, for reasons of physical
proximity if nothing else.
Nevertheless, the French-English conflict only pours accelerant on the
already rampaging firestorm of sexual revanchism. Back in the1970s,
when the style was long hair and roaring Jimmy Page guitar solos, Prince
Charles happened to attend a dance in Montreal. The Prince was a
forerunner of the modern age of dorks and nerds, with his hair plastered
down and his whiskey jug ears sticking out. He was really out of
his element in Montreal, which is the second largest French-speaking city
in the world. The prevailing look there at the time was a cross
between Roger Plant and the Hells Angels, and when the hapless successor
to the throne of England asked a French girl to dance she blew him off.
As she later told the press, I didnt like his hair.
Ha-ha, the Prince of Wales being told to bugger off by a common French-Canadian
from Ville DAnjou or Chateauguay! Thats hysterical!
Imagine that happening now, in a time when Monica Lewinsky conserves the
Gap dress for posterity because its got Clintons jism stains
all over the front of it!
In the latest instance of a French woman telling a powerful Anglo-Saxon
to piss off, Cécilia Sarkozy, the wife of the French head of state,
declined an invitation from George Bush for a weenie roast at Bushs
family vacation retreat at Kennebunkport, ME. One can only imagine
what she told her husband. Too low-end. Dont waste
my time. I dont eat hot dogs. Maybe she told him,
I dont like Bushs haircut.
The president of France and his wayward wife seem to have arrived at a
state of equilibrium, but there is no doubt that she is holding a very
strong suit of cards. As this one French woman once described the
modern state of sexual relations to me, You men have the money,
but we have you by the balls. However you care to describe
it, the French presidency is now a co-presidency. Foreign leaders
have to contend not only with Nicholas Sarkozy, but also with his wife,
who is representing a constituency that has yet to be recognized or defined
by policy planners or by the Fifth Estate.
Who can say Cécilia Sarkozy was in error when she declined to attend
that tedious lunch? Its a little peculiar to invite the President
of France to a lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, and even more peculiar
that Bush and Sarkozy decided to wear bankers suits to an outdoor weenie
The Sarkozys have acted in tandem before, when he sent her down to Libya
to negotiate the release of the Bulgarian hostages. Whos to
say that her refusal to meet Bush for lunch was not orchestrated by the
two of them to show the French public that even though he might be perceived
as toadying to the Americans, his wife is representing a segment of the
electorate that prefers to see them snubbed?
I maintain that when the Americans get over their initial euphoria at
seeing Sarkozy elected president of France, they will find themselves
severely disappointed, the way they were with Putin. They might
end up waxing nostalgic for the days of Chirac, who was unpalatable to
them but was nevertheless predictable, instead of these two frenetic,
© Dean Borok Aug 17 2007
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