Saturday, November 25, 2006

Something That Makes Me Uneasy

I've always had this nagging feeling that I'm living in macho country. Little things I've noticed, like how one neighbor called Pierre to ask if I were allowed to go out without him, and to practically ask his permission to invite just me to a girls-only dinner party (His great reponse, "She's 33, not a child, and even if she were, I'm not her dad."); how when a woman is out with a man, the waiter and maitre'd will maintain eye contact with only the guy; how when we bumped into a group of neighbors celebrating a children's party at a fastfood in Montpellier, I noticed that instead of mixing all the mothers were together in one table and all the fathers were in another. Now there's a study proving my gut instincts right. Read about the Gender Gap Index here. The Philippines is in the no. 6 position while France is way down there at no. 70. Now I'm even more fired up about convincing Pierre to vote next year for socialist party candidate Ségolène Royal. I think this country could use a woman president.

P.S. Last night, Saturday, having dinner at Timgad, I asked restaurant owner Karim about observation no. 2 above. He looked a little bit confused at first, said he never even noticed he'd been doing it. "I guess it's a sign of respect?" he tried a response. "To the man," I said, "but could it be a sign of disrespect to the woman?" "But no!" he protested. "That is just how it's done." Then he gave us a cute little smile, and since he really is a very handsome guy, I decided not to annoy him anymore and said nothing as he escaped to the kitchen.

6 comments:

Leah said...

Philippines, #6??? that's interesting to know.

I guess, French people like to streotype still, i find that in most gatherings i go to, same case happens.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, that's the case in the French countryside -- a bit backward. Parisians are different I gather.

apol said...

LEAH, yep, no. 6. We're really pretty matriarchal eh.

ANONYMOUS, while I am sure that as is generally the case for city dwellers everywhere, Parisians are more progressive thinkers than their counterparts in the provinces, please take note that the study was not a study just of the French countryside, it covered the entire country. France apparently got very low scores when it came to women's economic participation and political representation.

KatsMeow said...

Could it be that the restaurant staff refrain from looking at the lady since some people may find it presko? I could be wrong.

It is still a backward practice though. Is not gazing at a lady is (somewhat) = women who wear the veil?

Oh, I have an off-off-topic thing to share about the veil. (I deleted some words for security reasons.) I had a classmate here who was a practicing _____ but she didn't wear one, and I asked her why this was so, and she said, "It was _____ himself who said that women should wear the veil in times of war so that they can fight alongside men. It is not a time of war now, so I do not wear the veil."

I felt that her simple answer said so much.

apol said...

KAT, food for thought that one...

Katrina said...

I read about that survey too, and was so proud. :-) Then again, everyday life here often seems to prove otherwise. A matriarchal society is still sexist. However, it doesn't surprise me at all that we came ahead of France, or any other Latin country for that matter. France, Italy, Spain...still very macho countries. Great news about the female candidate, but I heard from a good friend of mine who lives in Paris that her chances aren't that great.

I agree with Katsmeow: the whole idea of respecting a woman (or, more accurately, the man she's with) by not looking at her implies inequality. I don't blame the people who practice it, since most of them do it subconsciously. They don't realize what it means, preferring to believe -- like Karim -- that "that's just how it's done." Depending on my mood and who I'm talking to, I like to challenge them, hoping that it'll get them to think about beliefs they'd long taken for granted.