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May 24, 2008

« Who's Your City on The National | Main | The National »

A highly controversial new book out by a speech writer for a high ranking Minister, across the pond in France is making all the rage.

What's the fuss you ask? - well, get a load of the title:  The book is called Guide des jolies femmes de Paris (Guide to the Pretty Women of Paris).  A bit of a self-help book to exploring the best Parisian "feminine specialties."  The book goes on to list the best spots in Paris for various parts of the female anatomy and other locations for typical hangouts, distinguished by female age-demographic in Paris.


I have been to Paris, but mainly relied on my Lonely Planet book to help me navigate through the streets to find the best cafes, art galleries and other familiar tourist sites.  Of course, 'people watching' was listed as being very much a part of Parisian culture.

What are your thoughts?  Is this book blatant sexism, or is this adding a different dimension to how cities should be viewed? 

...just when we thought French President Nicholas Sarkozy didn't have enough on his plate already.

Aleem Kanji


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Mike L.

Thanks for the heads-up, Richard. Will put it on my bookshelf next to "A Guide to Sacred Sites in Rome" by Lucrezia Borgia.

Whitney Gunderson

Of course this book is blatant sexism.... marriage is viewed as a tradition in many cultures, but is core sexism. So let me get this straight: Marriage good, books about girls bad? This book probably won't cause as much of a stir in France as it could in the United States. Remember, Paris is home to Moulin Rouge in the racy Paris red-light district.... not that I have ever been there.


I haven't seen it yet, but it seems to be a work of fiction inspired by the booklet that we used to see advertised in the back of our comic books called "How To Pick Up Girls". This version is for the well travelled adolescent . In this story the reader is the main character. The subtitle should be: "Twenty-One and in Paris".

The City Gal

Look at it this way: Perhaps single women are travelling to Paris very often these days. Lonely Planet is not going to give them what they want.

Sure it is a bold move and a controvesial book, but if women are travelling alone to Paris, there is a niche for it.

I need to check it out.

Michael Wells

I'm sort of partial to Rick Steves along with Lonely Planet, even though his "out of the way places" get crowded because he lists them. This book will probably do the same to certain cafes, it's another book giving outsiders the locals' perspective. Of course it's sexist, but you'd have to read it so know if its offensive.

Trust the French to put things in perspective. Have you seen the photos of Sarkozy & his model wife in their underwear? In the U.S. this would start impeachment hearings, in France it's fashion.

Zoe B

French culture has the enviable knack of continuing to appreciate a woman's sexuality past the age 40. It also has a deeply sexist culture where women learn from toddlerhood that they should dress to be attractive to men. That famous 'effortless chic' comes from years of practice and centuries of tradition. On-the-street flirtatious glances are considered a spice of life, not to be taken as a threat or a true invitation for even as much as a cup of coffee. The downside to this apparently is a (relative)lack of bonding between women (eg, no Red Hat Societies) - they view each other too much as potential rivals for mens' attention. I think that might be where the sexism really hurts.

Whitney Gunderson

I think American culture also appreciates over 40 female sexuality. Personally I think Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton are knock-outs, even though I am decades younger. But I also think the appreciation reaches beyond the people associated with Hollywood and politics. I'm acquainted with several "seniors" who were married, had children and for one reason or another, found themselves single again. This was the exact case for one couple I know: The woman sold the farm she had been living on all alone for several years to move in to a small town to live with the man she was getting married to. Now, they get to keep each other company in the same house and go to their respective grandkids' school and sporting events.

So far, women have outlived their husbands. Aside from the jokes that go along with this phenomenon, some women choose to get married again and some think staying single and joining the Red Hat Society is just fine. Others get married again and join the Red Hat Society.

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