Why French Romance is Superior : Loving à la OhOh et LaLa

Until Pamela Druckerman’s recent book, Bringing Up Bebe, the French parenting excellence was a well kept secret, but not so for their flare for romance.

What makes the French so sexy? I believe it’s the French women that made their men into such reputed lovers!

To Be or To Act

In France, being an attractive woman is a 24/7 occupation. “Don’t leave the front door until you are ready to seduce,” a protégé instructed me when I moved here. She had guessed I was tempted to wear sneakers with my business suit to walk to work. Ca ne se fait pas. (It’s just not done.)

Where does this come from? Heritage: Whose heart did Guilllaume conqueror? There’s nothing like a prince charming to make a woman feel like a royalty. How come all countries with kingly heritage don’t have the French reputation?

Could it be that the French women made their men feel like princes? I believe that’s the case. Not through a fairy-tale story but because of the casualties of war.

During World War I, the French adult male population diminished by close to 9%*. (The U.S. only lost less than 1/4 %*. Greece and Italy—also badly hit and also “lover” countries—each lost around 7% male population.) It’s called a MAJOR shortage of suitors for an entire generation. EVERY soccer team lost one player. EVERY rugby team lost two. EVERY, even the tiniest ones, French village displays its WW I (and WW II for that matter) monument to the home-town boys who lost their lives in service to the country. Saving Private Dupont?! Forget it. They’re tooooo many.

For the women, the stakes grew higher in the win-her-man-and-keep-him-if-she-can game. Necessity begat perpetual seduction. While Betty Crocker portrayed the American ideals of helpfulness and trustworthiness, her French counterparts passed down their life recipe too: Il faut souffrir pour être belle. (One must suffer to be beautiful.) Every day. Every year. Even after the kids are born. She’s working (which can be fun) to keep her man.

You can understand my French friend’s amusement when describing his Harvard Business School experience. During classes, women and men dressed very casually (even in sweats) to better compete in the academic setting. Then came the black tie evenings. François recalls arriving at his first event donned in a tuxedo and admiring the women dressed to the nines. They began cooing out his name, “Hello François (pause...big eyes...smile)...” Who were these foreign beauties who obviously knew him? He did not recognize the transformed class performers who were now operating in tantalizing mode!

To Want or To Be Desired

In séduction à la française, keeping a man doesn’t mean controlling him. He’s made to feel...like a man: virile, performing, as if he chased her and she’s barely tamed so he gets to keep wooing her. Lingerie ads portray this clearly. The American declares, “I’m gonna eat you!” while the French whispers,” I am one delicious feast...Come taste.”

French women find ways to make their men feel like winners and fine pleasure connoisseurs. It’s not a question of techniques (step 1, 2, then 3). Instead of a direct approach, they exude a fragrance of femme, something fundamentally different from homme...that they know men can’t live without.

Americans say, “to catch a man.” In France women “le font craquer” (to make him break down for you). C'est comme ça. (That's the way it is.)

To Have a Superior Culture  in Your Home

Of course these are generalizations and times have changed. Besides I don’t necessarily believe that French romance is superior, but I do value contrasting various cultures to become aware of one’s own behavior. We’re not challenged in our beliefs when everyone shares the same perspective.

It’s worth pondering; you are responsible for building the culture of your home.

Thought-Provoking Questions for the “Hitched”
How is your marriage? How much do you need your spouse and visa verse? What will you do about it? (NOT: What will you make sure your spouse will do differently!!!!)

Thinking Questions For Us All
What’s your style: direct or playful, consistent or in spurts? What life issues might benefit from a more detoured approach? Which ones require greater initiative on your part? How are you doing on persistence? How about loosening up the control?

Bon courage...and bon appétit on Valentine’s Day!

About the photos:

- The Eiffel Tower is my concoction. I have seen it in red when the Chinese came to town, with a rugby ball during the World Cup, with Olympic Circles when Paris applied to host the games, but not yet with a heart!
- Lingerie advertisements: Victoria Secret (left) and Lise Charmel (right)

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1. On Tuesday, February 14 2012, 23:44 by Denise

Forgot to mention how I calculated the male population. I considered
- 1/4 of the population was children which is the current ration in the US (thus a conservative figure in 1918 considering that average life expectancy is shorter than now)
- 1/2 of the remaining population was female and the other male

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