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Good Manners in Valleraugue

July 15, 2011

One afternoon in Valleraugue, during a long afternoon luncheon in the garden, one of the female guests reached for the wine bottle to pour herself more wine. But, to my surprise, another guest, Francoise, slapped her hand away from the bottle, “Women should not pour wine,” she said. My hackles went up immediately. What was Francoise saying? Shouldn’t women be allowed to do WHATEVER WE WANT. WHENEVER WE WANT IT. I felt doubly betrayed because I had Francoise figured as a veteran French feminist vintage 1970 or so. Shouldn’t she be defending our rights? Shouldn’t we get to do whatever men get to do? What about equality? Equal Rights? The ERA? Luce Irigary? “Ah,” said Francoise, “men should always pour the wine because” — she nodded to me, the American — “women wait on men all day long, so at the table, men should serve women.” Of course, she said all this in French which made it sound far more elegant and authoritative than this blog post. But I liked all the lessons I Felt she was trying to teach: men should learn to be attentive to women’s needs/wants, like we have been trained to be attentive to theirs, and, as women, we can help them learn by abiding by rules like these. But also, American feminists like my own self righteous self should learn to listen more closely, be prepared to learn from the customs of other cultures, older and wiser than our own.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lorie McMahon permalink
    July 21, 2011 8:53 am

    I was recently instructed by an elder, as she looked in my eyes and noticed a lack of sparkle, which she said she always sees when she looks at me, “be more selfish”, she demanded. “You are always doing for everyone else, stop doing for others, stop worrying about others.”. “Do for yourself, let others do for you”
    Being the typical jewish, I fit the sterotype like no other, I am the caretaker.

    Her words have stuck with me recently and I am trying, as hard as it is for me, am more willing to let others do for me.

    Your incounter with your french lady reminds me, don’t always be so quick to jump and please.

    Loving your blog, and wishing I was gazing out at the tropical seas sitting on that porch.

  2. July 21, 2011 9:06 am

    Ah, I love your “elder.” You Must let people help you. You do way too much. This, I know.

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