Good Manners in Valleraugue
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.