Jul 222009

(asked by Frou Frou from the Czech Republic)

If you will find this noteworthy reading and commenting on, I would love to read a French MAN’s perspective on this article from the Guardian
To put it simply, I totally could not believe it.

I thought almost that is immoral (the bikini part). Or are women so INSECURE that they really want to have sex so early so that no one cheats on them?? Of course I know, this is generalizing and not EVERYONE is like that!!

I found it hallucinating that such exercises are paid for Sécurité Sociale…?

A FRENCH+MAN’s comment would be interesting.

History will be made today, as in this post, not only I won’t bash French women, but I will even praise them!!!

But let’s start by saying that until a few years ago, I always assumed that “postnatal rehabilitation” was widespread all over the world (the rich world, of course…) and it came to a shock to me when I realized, that no, it was not that common at all.
Then I looked around and realize something. In many countries, when women become mothers they almost stop being women. They change the way they dress, their haircut, pretty much everything.

Well, in France, it’s not the case. In France, one can be a woman and a mother at the same time. It’s in your mind, but in your body too, and from what I understand giving birth is quite taxing for the body, most women never fully recover (understand: lose the extra weight they gain, and I’m not exactly sure how it affects down there even if I have some assumptions that I won’t go into as I’d like this blog to stay for all audiences and not be X rated).
So to regain shape, one needs physical rehab and therapy, just after any other very taxing event to the body.
The fact that Sécurité Sociale (National Health Care) pays for it is totally logical, it doesn’t deal with cosmetics, but with body integrity, just like any other physical rehab.

Now, as Nathalie commented in the previous post, the question tells a lot about the culture of the person asking…
No, Linda, I won’t make assumptions about you (even though, I always assumed the Czech were more open about that), but comment a few lines in the article that I found interesting.
First of all, the woman that wrote the article (J. Di Giovanni) recognizes that she is an Anglo prude, that’s good, but it’s pretty much everywhere in an article.

First, I want to comment on the “it’s for your husband.” It sounds like French women do that to please their husbands (and I think Linda understood it that way too, seeing how she asked the question), but this is Di Giovanni that misunderstood something here.
French women do postnatal rehab for themselves, not for their husbands. I’m sure most French men don’t even know such a thing exists. If the nurse said that, it’s because, while French women are more open about sex than most other countries, they still have some restrain, and saying “it’s for your husband” is a euphemism meaning: “it’s for you.”

Then, I can’t help being amused by the fact that –as she says- many Anglo expats go to England or the US to give birth or other major things that require a hospital (or they go to the American Hospital in Neuilly). I can understand the language barrier issue, but more often it’s the idea to go to a French hospital (French as in “Foreign”) that scares them.
If they had done their research, maybe they’ll know that French hospitals are some of the best in the world, if not the best, and are zillion times cheaper than American ones (don’t know about the UK though).
Even a few days ago, one of the students where I work was queasy about going to a French doctor, because of lack of trust in the French health system.
When will Americans stop thinking they’re the best in every field, when they’re not…
But I guess it’s part of the disinformation that’s going on in the country because of the big “healthcare lie” over there (the fact that no national healthcare means pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and other health related companies can make a shitload of money on the health of the American people and those sorts of things).
But I’m getting carried away here (the topic is quite… topical these days, that’s why.)

“He had actually said make love, not have sex.”
I think she’s reading a little bit too much into that. The doctor must have said “make love” because he may not be totally bilingual and “make love” is a literal translation of “faire l’amour” which is the best way to call the act in a proper manner to somebody you don’t really know. For a non-bilingual French person (and even to a bilingual one actually) “have sex” sounds way more crude than “make love”.

Then, she says that French women have lots of babies. Well, more than Germany or Japan, that’s for sure, but I doubt that the birth rate in France is much higher than other Western countries (I’m sure some official numbers are available online, you know where to look), the average is about 2 kids.

But the conclusion to all of this is where I began: in France, it’s not incompatible to be a mother and a woman at the same time.

  5 Responses to “Are French women that insecure?”

  1. Ok,I get it- we have all to be ugly, fat, smelly, no make u, no hair, no sex with our husbands , and then, finally, anglosaxons will consiedr us confident women… It's good to know, but unfortunately, not good to me

  2. You are right about the compatibility…I think it is great…because I have seen many women with cauliflower haircut (literal translation) and wearing weird shapeless clothes as if being a mother was…I do not know…
    Anyway, I just think you should eat proeprly and not starve yourself for bikini if you are pregnant.
    Other than that, I want my postnatal rehab if I have a baby one day!!!!!!!!!!

  3. That was interesting to read. It makes perfect sense, to go to a physical rehab (paid for by taxes) after something so exhausting as giving birth.

  4. woo hoo, I love this blog! I just found out about "perineal retraining" last week on a French women's website, and the first thing I did was to check the yellow pages to find something like that here! Boy was I mad to find out that this seems to exist only in France!! Not fair. Not that my blurry brain would have mustered much interest in it during the newborn stage, but five years later I think it's a great idea! I think that the fact that it's covered by public health is a big sign of respect and appreciation for women. Obviously it's optional and not required. The article was really pretty bad. I mean I know she was exaggerating to make it entertaining but the sheer number of falsehoods was excessive, in particular the parts about breastfeeding. Good thing there are plenty of online comments after it setting the record straight. It was interesting to hear how she felt, though, because I doubt she was making that up. I suppose if you feel pressured into it, the whole "wand" thing could feel like an assault, or at least an insult. I don't think her feelings were invalid, just her facts.
    One thing I find especially interesting is the question of when people think it is "time" to start having sex again after childbirth. Often women have little or no desire for a long time afterwards. (As a biologist by training, I see evolution at work here.) I think there's a length of time in everyone's mind that they think is a "reasonable" timeframe for a man to have to wait and be expected to stay faithful. But if his wife/partner still doesn't feel like it after, say, six months, she is being unreasonable. If it's still like that after a year, many would say something's wrong with her, and it's not his fault if he feels the "need" to go elsewhere. A cousin of mine who is a doctor gets those visits all the time - exhausted women who are either sent by or accompanied by their husbands to ask for a pill to fix their lack of sexual interest! I wonder what attitudes towards this are like in France. It's great if women feel free to be sexual, feminine and attractive after they become mothers, but can this also translate into a form of pressure to have sex when they don't really want to? Please don't tell me this pressure doesn't exist, because it does, for many. I'm just wondering whether there is more or less of it in general in France. Probably not really answerable…

  5. Concerning your last question, sadly I can't answer. Not being a father myself, I can't talk from personal experience (and I'm not sure I'd want to), and I guess I'm not close enough to anybody that's a parent to have had that conversation with them.
    And I don't know of any "general cultural behavior" to make any semblance of healthy generalization.

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