I'm watching the figure-skating European championship - free dance - and while I'm amused by the Danish commentators' lack of observing things that are not already painfully obvious to everyone else watching, I'm amazed at their shameless ventriloquizing of the language of authority: "the men are strong and nice to look at," the male commentator says, "but I can barely stand to watch the women's crotches in their splits". The female commentator giggles, as she is obviously embarrassed. As if trying to remove the potential tension she moves on to her specialty, which is to deliver stereotypical remarks à la "the French are always terribly original"- I was glad to see the Russians win over them, as the others were utterly boring to me - or "the Italians are so passionate". Beyond the verbal experience, which I'm trying to pretend I'm not having, visually I experience something similar, and consequently I hear myself saying about the French couple, Carron/Jost, that came in 9th place: "what a stylish shirt he wears, and how cheap she looks". My sense of feminism, dormant today until that point, awakens and I feel entirely cheated: while Carron wears an abominably kitchy dress, Jost wears a black blouse with princess-cut sleeves. I try to vindicate myself by saying that it's all the same: the French have always been a bit queer, cross-dressing and all that. But then I think, if only that were true. Not only would the French look different, but they would also talk differently. This reminds me of a text that is still circulating on the internet about the power relations in the French language. I reproduce it here, while wishing that one of the two couples in the running for medals, which wore same-sex costumes and danced to some cyborg music, would have won. One of the Russian couples, Domnina/Shabalin, did, but it was entirely by the script: he, romantically dominating; she: legs spread apart.

Un gars: c'est un jeune homme. Une garce: c'est une pute!
Un courtisan: c'est un proche du roi. Une courtisane: c'est une pute!
Un masseur: c'est un kinésithérapeute. Une masseuse: c'est une pute!
Un coureur: c'est un joggeur. Une coureuse: c'est une pute!
Un professionnel: c'est un sportif de haut niveau (variante: un travailleur très qualifié). Une professionnelle: c'est une pute!
Un homme sans moralité: c'est un politicien. Une femme sans moralité: c'est une pute!
Un entraîneur: c'est un homme qui entraîne une équipe sportive. Une entraîneuse: c'est une pute!
Un homme à femmes: c'est un séducteur. Une femme à hommes: c'est une pute!
Un homme public: c'est un homme connu. Une femme publique: c'est une pute!
Un homme facile: c'est un homme agréable à vivre. Une femme facile: c'est une pute!
Un homme qui fait le trottoir: c'est un paveur. Une femme qui fait le trottoir: c'est une pute!
Un péripatéticien: c'est un élève d'Aristote. Une péripatéticienne: c'est une pute!

Non, le français, vraiment, c'est pas compliqué ...


Bent said…
Considering the number of times you've been yelling "Shut the F@'# up!" at Annette, the poor commentator, over the last 4 days, I'd say your post is very balanced and fair - almost stereotype-free and unbiased. And not once did you name her profession in French....
Anonymous said…
Hi Camelia. Thanks you for last week's funny and very entertaining blog entry. Here is a short passage from Mina Loy's poem "Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots" (1914), which, if I am not mistaken, will please your feminist and materialist heart and help you forget the gender-stereotypical chatter of TV commentators - at least until next time around...

"We have been taught
Love is a god
White with soft wings
Nobody shouts
Virgins for sale
Yet where are our coins
For buying a purchaser
Love is a god
Marriage expensive
A secret well kept
Makes the noise of the world"

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