June 14, 2009

Gender difference feels good in Paris.

Nina says:
[A]t least in Paris (in my opinion), women of all shapes and sizes and importantly, of all ages, seem to understand their beauty and valor, their unique beauty and their unique valor. They walk with pride (and so I, too, walk with pride). As if they know they’re being watched, admired, respected. For what they bring to the table.
Read the whole thing to get the hang of the argument, which is made impressionistically, with pictures interspersed. I especially like this one:


DSC03958_2, originally uploaded by Nina Camic.

You don't normally see faces all lined up nicely like that in real life. In movie posters you see it. To great excess. But try actually getting a candid shot of strangers lined up in an interesting environment. Not easy!

51 comments:

NKVD said...

Watching women is one of the best reasons to visit Paris. They look good, dress nicely and are a treat.

Palladian said...

Funny, I never notice the women when I'm in Paris.

fivewheels said...

One gender difference I've noticed since about junior high: Women and girls romanticize Paris to a ridiculous degree. They pin all their loftiest expectations on Parisiennes' rapturous sophistication and magic and blah blah blah that they have been force-fed since they were little. And I imagine they make it a self-fulfilling prophecy once they make their dream trip.

Eh, I've been there. I prefer Chicago. But then, I'm a guy.

rhhardin said...

Philippe Sollers Women is entertaining, feminism hits France.

paul a'barge said...

That blond lady with the thumbs up and the butch hair cut? I think she has some food smeared all over her chin.

That doesn't seem very French.

traditionalguy said...

Thank goodness for the little girls who grow up and never feel a need to morph into a street-walker sexual personae to get a little attention in society! Vive la difference from Hollywood!

elizabeth said...

Lovely writing. I will so be on the outlook for such riches when we get to Paris!

I love this pic my husband took, I am not brave enough to take a straight on shot of people...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bizboyz/3610521790/

ricpic said...

Painfully self-conscious city, Paris.

wordsprite said...

Must be the bread and wine that make them feel so good...that looks like the real treat, to me.

jimbino said...

Yeah, sure, a woman can eat. Just find me one who can play chess.

Fen said...

Painfully self-conscious city, Paris.

NYC too. I checked out a blog for Desperate Housewives NYC. It was filled with New Yorkers insisting those women did not represent NYC's High Society. Two responses to them:

1) We're smart enough to know that "reality television" does not accurately depict what it claims to.

2) Why are you New Yorkers so insecure?

As for Paris, the "city too beautiful to suffer seige", I would only go there to spit on it.

ricpic said...

Paris

never
even in calmer times
have I ever
dreamed of
bicycling through that
city
wearing a beret

and
Sartre
always
pissed
me
off.


Charles Bukowski

LarsPorsena said...

"Valor"? Only the French would confuse intrepidity with fashion.

Ralph L said...

Look at those tiny little tables! Aren't they precious?

Ralph L said...

paul, I believe that's acne on her chin and forehead from not bathing properly.

rhhardin said...

Ohio Security Fence new today.

It follows a halloween version.

Gender inputs suspected.

XWL said...

There's a very strong correlation between feminine (and masculine for that matter) upkeep in and out of relationships and a culture's expectation of male infidelity.

Cultures where men are expected to stray, women (and men) keep fit, dress to impress, and flirt mercilessly regardless of relationship status.

Cultures where males find themselves virtually neutered the moment they make a commitment to a single partner, both they and their partner tend to head straight for shlubbyville.

(I don't think this is unique to straight relationships, either)

If you want people to put effort into their appearance, then the men in that culture must be allowed to sniff around and chase tail like the dogs they are.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Eh, I've been there. I prefer Chicago. But then, I'm a guy..

What he said.

knox said...

the butch hair cut

That's not butch, that's a very cute pixie hair cut.

nina said...

Chicago? Over Paris? make your argument! I just don't see it! I lived in Chicago and have daughters there so I'm favorably inclined, but still, over Paris? Nah...

I read this week-end that Paris is only no. 8 on the most livable cities in the world (Zurich is no.1). Chicago is not on the list. We're talkin' for the average person.

It's not my country, so I don't want to live there, but man oh man (sic), do I love spending idle time in Paris!

TitusisbackWisconsin said...

I love the women in Paris. All ages, shapes and sizes. They seem to really enjoy life.

You don't see that as much in the states.

Parisian women still flaunt their sexuality (and they should) at any age. I hate to think women feel they can't be sexual at any age.

I love "sexual" women at every age. I love women at every age. Women are beautiful and sexual and strong and powerful. I love women, period. Even Sarah Palin.

traditionalguy said...

Titus...Ditto.

Eric said...

They walk with pride (and so I, too, walk with pride). As if they know they’re being watched, admired, respected. For what they bring to the table.

Put me with the guys who don't get it. I found Paris no different than any large first-world city in this respect.

Sy said...

France - nowhere in the world where women and men are the same where it counts the most ...hairy armpits.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

I'd tend to agree with Nina. On arriving at DeGaulle and the police entry cubicle, a black guy with a white woman preceded us. They looked relieved, as if they had arrived home away from shame. A girl on the bus in was aggressively affectionate with her boy friend. At some random minor musical presentation, a woman in her sun dress got up afterwords in her sun dress (?), gray hair, looking out, head up, aquiline, proud. The young lady representing the hotel couldn't have been more charming at breakfast when she approached us (speaking English) our last day there. Mme. Chanel clearly has nieces in spirit.

Donna B. said...

Not entirely on topic, but my husband told me tonight that 200 years ago, I'd have been a hottie.

Considering that I really like medieval fashion... yeah. I could have been like the Paris Hilton of 1540.

However... even in my 20th C incarnation, I have found that a joyful acceptance of ones sexuality is well-received by the opposite sex.

Thank whoever that I do not have to be Britney, Paris, or whoever is the current perfect body type to be feminine and enjoy all the wonders of such.

MadisonMan said...

It must be cold there. No one is wearing shorts.

paul a'barge said...

Considering that I really like medieval fashion

ruh roh.

Renaissance Faire go'er.

paul a'barge said...


That's not butch, that's a very cute pixie hair cut.


No, it's not. Take another look.

She parts her hair like a man on the left side of her head. And her hair is full of goopy gel.

That's butch right there, baby. Butch.

MarkW said...

Chicago? Over Paris? make your argument! I just don't see it! I lived in Chicago and have daughters there so I'm favorably inclined, but still, over Paris? Nah...

A case for Chicago over Paris? That's pretty easy, actually. Paris is a medieval city -- Chicago is a city of our era, most of it built within living memory. The combination of the lake-front and skyscrapers give it vistas and dramatic views that Paris lacks completely. I do like Paris, but there's nothing like this there:

http://www.horschgallery.com/admin/uploads/Products/Product18/1783_THAM-chicago-beach-photos-pictures--framed.jpg

You can't go sail in Paris or go to the beach or ride your bike for miles along the lake-front. Chicago has a feeling of air, space, and openness that you don't get in Paris.

William said...

Paris would make a fine back drop for the kind of existential, ie adolescent, love affairs you have in your twenties. Chicago and New York make the proper background for the consuming love affair of one's thirties, ie greed.

Kirk Parker said...

Knox,

"> > the butch hair cut"

"That's not butch, that's a very cute pixie hair cut"

Meh. At one level--appearance, to be specific, which is mostly what matters when we're talking about physical attributes--really short hair is just really short hair, regardless of the motivation.

XWL,

"...both they and their partner tend to head straight for shlubbyville."

Certainly not me or those around me; maybe it's a Pacific Northwest outdoor-active thing? Where are you making these observations?


Donna B.,

Maybe he just meant you were really really old!

Rich B said...

You need a telephoto to get shots like these without drawing attention to yourself. Tends to reduce the depth of the image.

onparkstreet said...

Living in a city and visiting a city are two different things.

Also, it depends, when you live in a city, what kind of job you have and where you can afford to live, etc.

What I mean is: I have these good friends who are Italian and live in Chicago. We all agree Italy is gorgeous, but, they can afford to buy condos and go out to dinner and basically live in a way in Chicago that they couldn't in Italy.

That being said, I'd love to live there for a year or two.

(for me, what I like about Chicago is the easy access to a robust artistic scene - music, theater, books, it's really accessibe, i.e., affordable).

I like the pixie cut.

Shanna said...

I think french women feel good about themselves because everywhere you go in Paris men will stare at you. And cat-call or whistle. Or at least that's what I remember from Paris. They do it way more than American men do.

PJ said...

I think the writer is mistranslating the French "valeur" meaning "value" as "valor," which of course has a completely different meaning. It's funny because I'm assuming that she's American, and shouldn't make that mistake. The brain works in mysterious ways.

Kae Gregory said...

What I imagine when I'm in Paris is actually see French people. Alas, in my imagination is as close as I normally come.

Michael said...

Funny Onion Article from 10 years ago:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/34198

The lady's haircut is not butch. It was cut with scissors. A butch cut involves clippers.

Shanna said...

I love Point/Counterpoint!

There was a french guy at my old work who always used to drone on about how France was so much better and how americans are idiots for thinking 200 years is "old" and then it turned out he was looking at kiddie porn on his work computer.

mrkwong said...

Comments on comments...Paris for me is nothing particularly idyllic, it's a city with a long history and a lot of things to look at (let's see, if this is the Rue Dauphine where is the Cordeliers Hall?) but for my part I'd rather live in Munich.

When one makes their 'most livable cities' list one needs to look at the criteria behind it - I'm sure I'd have a much different standard of 'livability' at the Gulfstream (even GII) level of the economic troposphere, than as a middle-class family. Sydney makes number 10 on that Mercer list but just based on 'feel' I'm inclined to prefer Melbourne.

Citizen Grim said...

The Chicago v Paris debate in the meta here is hilarious. Both cities are wretched. Paris is full of itself (so is Chicago, one might argue) and Chicago is a pleasant downtown surrounded by miles and miles of urban wasteland (so is Paris, one might argue).

onparkstreet said...

Haha! I liked thatcitizengrim who, is, indeed, kind of grim.

*It's still cheaper to live in the non-wasteland portions of Chicago than Paris, which was my main point.

**If I could live anywhere, I would pick a different city every two years. Need to get a different job.....

Ice Nine said...

I love Paris. It is my favorite city in the world and I have been there many times - most recently last month. I like the French just fine. But I have never noticed that French/Parisian women were anything special in terms of inherent beauty. We just discussed this very topic when we were there last, as we sat street side watching them go buy.

Without doubt, they are very stylish (long scarves - heavy on yellow - wrapped every which way around necks and shoulders is the latest...in case you're wondering). But I have never known the average Parisian woman on the street to be particularly well-groomed. They are clean but often sort of grubby - a studied, affected unkemptness masquerading as stylish insouciance. They don't venture much beyond black garments. Their "stylishness" always struck me as contrived and forced - though perhaps, as I think on it, that is the essence of "style". The general exception to this generalization is the older Parisian women who are invariably smartly clad and coiffed, and with no shortage of flair.

Parisian women are fine but nothing special either in beauty or garb. You want that, get thee to Spain.

Ann Althouse said...

I'd heard about the supposed beauty of women in Paris, but when I went there, I was surprised by how ordinary they looked (in terms of face, hair, and demeanor). What I noticed were the men. They were different, and much more attractive and charming than the average American man. I was particularly struck by the quietness of their voices in restaurants. They seemed to have much less of a need to display manliness, and I don't mean to say they were unmanly.

BJM said...

@mrkwong, exactly, Sydney looks like SF but feels like LA. Melbourne runs circles around Sydney for quality of life and has long been a foodie destination.

Paris? Meh. I too prefer Spain, Portugal or Italy to France.

Anthony said...

Palladian said...
Funny, I never notice the women when I'm in Paris.


That's because you were in Paris, Texas.

Ann Althouse said...
I'd heard about the supposed beauty of women in Paris, but when I went there, I was surprised by how ordinary they looked (in terms of face, hair, and demeanor). What I noticed were the men.


No offense to any Frenchmen on here, but frankly, when in France, I find the French men a bit scary looking. The women seem like they are comfortable with themselves and carry themselves well.

mishu said...

You don't normally see faces all lined up nicely like that in real life. In movie posters you see it. To great excess. But try actually getting a candid shot of strangers lined up in an interesting environment. Not easy!

It's actually quite easy in Paris. People at the cafes like to face out to the square so they can people watch. That's why they are lined up facing the same way.

Trey said...

My girlfriend and I were in Paris for the first time this May, and were both shocked to find that the only well-dressed, attractive women that didn't have scowls on their faces seemed to be tourists. The Parisian men seemed to agree, ogling incessantly over my g/f.

Jim O said...

How can you not notice the women when in Paris?? They don't literally shoot the ugly ones, but any Parisien woman knows she is expected to look her best when in public. Not the men, though.

Mark G said...

I have never been to Paris, but judging by the great diversity in the comments here, I would assume the physical appearance, dress, and demeanor of the women could be just about anything or nothing I was looking for.

Everyone here is saying different things.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Let me say one more different thing, then. There are neighborhoods where women are not appreciated.

Right? Or do those not count somehow?