Women as gold medallists, or insipid girls in bikinis?

As the London 2012 Olympics ceremony drew to a close yesterday evening, I was surfing online and came across something that really irritated me… as is apt to happen on a free service used by the entire population of the world. While at the same time a worldwide sports event was being aired where, for the first time in history, there was a woman competing in every sport; this video is being watched by immature spotty teenage boys across the globe.

Now the actual content is not what offends me, these You’ve Been Framed type compilations of both sexes have been being aired since the invention of the film camera, however it was what I decided to do afterward which pissed me off. I did a youtube search for “Boys Fail Compilation” and came up with…nothing. While the opposing search of “Girls Fail Compilation” brings up pages and pages of results. Of course, there are Best Fails of the Week which feature both sexes, fair enough. But why – in a time where there are men who claim there is no need for feminism anymore, feminism is anti-men, men and women are equal in the workplace (go and read some statistics to encounter damning counter evidence to that one) etc. etc. – is there not an equal and opposite video of Boys “failing”.. Why? Because this kind of humour is more common in males? Maybe. There is of course also plenty of videos of “Girls Summer Fail Compilation” which is popular (over 25 million views) for obvious reasons, young, pretty women in bikinis falling around doing silly things – how ridiculous the female sex is!

Men are visual creatures, and the female anatomy is much more pleasing to the human eye than the male anatomy, and boys spend entire evenings hanging out together watching funny crap on youtube – thus there is a wider audience for a video of a SEXY CUTE OMG GIRLS fail video compilation than a male version. But as I watched the Summer Fail video I came to realise that often the women are there, by choice, in their silly bikinis prancing around willingly as sexual objects ( in one segment it was a beauty pageant). Now, their slipping and failling catastrophically is not pre-planned but I couldn’t help but think that they are absolutely complicit in Continue reading

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Sexism in France

Living in a new country, and attempting to integrate and understand a new culture can be daunting at times. Often the difference between success or failure in this task is your own psyche. A few questions I often find myself asking is: how abhorrent is this cultural difference to me? Will I take the cultural relativist road and try to use my own intelligence to think: this is simply a different way of thinking, this does not make it wrong; or will I simply push it away in the box labelled “The Irish Way is the Best Way.” Today in relation to the topic of a woman’s appearance, sadly, I have had to go with the former.

Sorry, France. Today, you suck.

This is a subject which has been covered again and again, however this time I won’t be writing an insipid article detailing all the ways women in France eat “all that cheese and bread” while keeping their figures. Amazing, we are ever in your humble shadow ladies.

NB: They have much better weather and they EXERCISE guys.

No, after the recent discovery that the “weight” I have gained since moving to France was recently a topic of conversation between my boyfriend and his father I felt the need to discuss this a little bit (and rant) with the internet. As a 5″7, 57 kilos, size 10, 22-year-old, I can hardly be labelled as a fattie. Of course, the proof is in the pudding: I have put weight on in France (53 kilos upon on arrival), that is not the problem, the fact is where French men feel they have the right to comment on a women’s weight. The simple fact is France is an inherently sexist country. The language itself says it all, the word vagina is a masculine word (ownership of a women’s sex organ right there). But my main irk is the fact that so many intelligent French men seem to have a blockage to the FACT that they live in a sexist country, right down to the language.

I’m moving off the point. The mere fact that my weight was up for discussion between my boyfriend and his father is laughable. The thought of that occurring in Ireland is quite simply, hilarious. As if two Irish men would discuss a women’s weight (perhaps in some instances they would, when the women in question was perhaps verging on the obese) firstly, they have better things to talk about, secondly, they would also see it as rude.

But in my case, where in nearly every country on the planet I would be considered slim and healthy. Yes, I am eating too much cheese, I am drinking too much wine etc. but to think that this is a topic up for discussion behind my back is absolutely inappropriate. Living in a country where a women’s appearance is consistently held up as a topic of discussion sickens me. I can only look to the women of France, who still allow this to go on. I have been in the room when a woman’s weight etc. has been nitpicked, maligned, destroyed, and I don’t stand for it. I ensure that my opinion is made known and that I am unimpressed with that kind of behaviour.

The fact that French men still feel it is appropriate to have these kinds of discussions leads me to feel French women let it slide, as long as it’s not them under the microscope. So fellow English speakers, don’t be impressed by the French woman’s maintenance of her figure long into adulthood, among other reasons, she is avoiding having her weight to be mocked and ridiculed, discussed at length by her fellow countrymen in the wondrous equality driven country, la belle France. As feminists have fought against for many years, the French woman’s appearance still matters more than anything else, sadly.

Arras – Birthplace of Maximilien Robespierre

‘One leads the people by reason, and the enemies of the people by terror…. If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue, the mainspring of popular government during a revolution is both virtue and terror; virtue, without which terror is baneful; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe, and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; it is less a principle in itself than a consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing needs of the patrie.’

Robespierre, – OEuvres, X, pp. 356–7.

I recently visited Robespierre‘s hometown of Arras. I already knew a little about Robespierre through studying history but here’s a refresher for those who are interested (the phrase that stuck in my fifteen year old’s brain was “rivers of blood flowed through assembly…” and I thought to myself what a nice bunch these French).

The Wanderer is set during the Reign of Terror...

Maximilien Robespierre was born, of Irish origin (bien sur) at Arras May 6, 1758. He was elected a deputy of the estates-general (a form of parliament, but without real power) that met in May 1789, and subsequently served in the National Constituent Assembly.

He was primarily behind the Reign of Terror (1793-94) where over 40,000 French men and women were executed by the guillotine, incited by rivalry between two political factions (the Girondins and the Jacobites) following the overthrowing of the monarchy.

Note: Let’s not forget one man/woman cannot possibly be responsible for a grand deed such as this and it is entirely plausible that his role was exaggerated so others didn’t have to take their share of accountability, but it can be under no doubt that his inflammatory speeches did not light the match.

English: Plaque at the place of the house (now...

Plaque at the place of the house (now destroyed) where the french philosoph Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived during his last years in Paris : 54 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Paris 2e arr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was heavily influenced by 18th century Enlightenment philosophies from Jean Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu.   He saw virtue in revolution and he maintained that the Terror was virtuous as it was an attempt to maintain the Revolution and the Republic. His supporters called him “the Incorruptible,” while his adversaries called him the blood thirsty dictator. Indeed.

Fun fact: he has been described as being “physically unimposing…” what is it with short French men being little bolloxes, they are really trying to over-compensate for something aren’t they!! Fascinating..

If his antics (acting morally superior, introducing a new religion entitled the Cult of the Supreme Being, murdering people etc.) are starting to piss anyone off, no worries. After capture by the Convention on the  28 July 1794, he was guillotined without trial and buried in a common grave (he is now however in the Catacombs of Paris). If you’re interested in the Cult of the Supreme Being google it, needless to say I have zero patience for people establishing new religions as I think we have rather enough trouble with the old ones don’t you think?

Of course, I don’t think Robespierre was power-hungry (but one can never know) he seemed to genuinely want to maintain the Revolution in order to save the Republic as he figured one was inconclusive without the other. As usual regarding extremists, he had good ideas but was all wrong in his pursuit of them (finding people to blame just for the sake of it, execution etc). It seems naive to say it, but there isn’t a revolution in history that was bloodless. For anything to begin anew, there must first be destruction of the old, and as the old is almost always human beings it is certain to involve death. If there was a way for there to be victors in war without violence, the inventor of this miraculous feat would surely have discovered the mysteries of the universe, the secret of black holes, and could travel at the speed of sound. I don’t have the answers I merely wish to engender debate.

Assez! (enough)

I spent a morning strolling around Monsieur Robespierre’s birthplace and there wasn’t a severed head in sight. An entirely (I think I have used that word over three times in this article, I’m feeling entirely “something” today it would seem) charming town, and the weather was pleasant which is always encouraging when in the North of France. A little Dutch and Belgian in architecture as it lies so close to the border.

Here’s a few photographs which I took – maybe you will see where Napolean and such got their ideas for their silly hats !

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