VIVE LA DIFFERENCE is, as its subtitle claims, “a Frenchman’s perspective on American women, love, respect and relationships.”
Expected rating: ★★★★✰
Actual rating: ★★★★✰
Genre: Nonfiction (Adult), Self-help
Read if you… want to learn about women’s treatment and consideration in American and French culture, as viewed from a man.
Why I read it: Being French but living in America, I really wanted to see if Blaise’s comparisons and conclusions are the same as mine.
Triggers: Sex, insults, woman violence, misogyny, (some patronizing from the author), other related sensible topics
Publication date: Jan 03, 2020
Read it in: 1 day (277 pages)
After two decades of living in America, Guy Blaise is struck by the difference between the French and Americans approach to relationships, marriage and chivalry.
What makes French women so outspoken about receiving respect and equal rights in a country known for love and romance? And what keeps American women from demanding the same?
In a collection of essays and letters, Guy, in coming from a long family line of strong women, presents his observations of cultural norms and attitudes that highlight the differences between French and American women. By exposing the American “man code”, giving advice to newlyweds, debunking stereotypes about Frenchmen, and sharing words of wisdom from French proverbs, Guy suggests that American women learn from their French sisters to strengthen their fight for equality.
I am very glad to have read this book. As a half-French new adult who has grown up on the American continent, I had never realized before how my views of romance and relationships between men and women are precariously balanced between the Western-European and North/Latin American cultures.
Many topics discussed by Blaise have made me understand that I was going out in the world with the wrong ideas about romance and relationships.
Through essays based on the evaluation of facts, #ownvoice interviews, exposition of personal values, history facts, and personal anthropologic studies, Guy Blaise (father of four girls, who comes from France but has lived in America for two decades) gives modern women some advice to shape their path in life and become independent, confident, and conscious that they happiness and rights are as important as any other person’s.
It did surprise me that such a book could come from a man (sorry for the incredibly stereotypical and sexist assumption/prejudice, but #experience). Blaise gives us a window to the world of men when their other half is not looking/hearing.
It shocked me how some of the things he mentioned (men describing their wives with slur words; unsatisfying sex life for women in favor of their husbands’ commodity; the taboo around sexuality, sexual talks, and violence against women, etc.) are known about in our society, and yet we still manage to somehow accept them and almost consider them a ‘normality’ (which shouldn’t be talked about too much).
It’s a book that goes with the current trend of women empowerment. In the heat of finishing reading it, I rated it four very enthusiastic stars, but now that some time has passed, I’m not too sure that the book itself deserves this rating. I think it’s more its thought-provoking nature that does. I’m grateful because it dropped a lot of topics for me to think about, even if I don’t really like the way the author handles them.
TL;DR: This book definitely gives women a different perspective to take into account.
- After reading VIVE LA DIFFERENCE, I feel more prepared to go out in the world and fend for myself.
- It’s a short, quick read that doesn’t even take a day to complete.
- It inspired in me a sense of power and understanding that make me more confident in myself and my right to defend what I think, want, and deserve as a woman.
- It’s a base for further reflection on romance and the relationship between men and women.
- The author presented some topics in a patronizing way.
- It’s easy to tell women that they should expect/require to be treated in a way, but… It’s not easy for us to, like, make people assimilate that concept.
- I think Blaise wanted to compare bad men vs. good men. I simply can’t believe that all American men are jerks, and all French men are princes, but too often Blaise seemed to make things stand like that.
- Some topics were only skimmed over.
I’ve rated this a four-star read right after finishing it, because it did open my eyes on a lot of topics. If I managed to be less emotive, I think I would have rated it less. It may not be a book for everyone because of the way the author presents some concepts and the tone he uses, but it personally helped me.
I would consider putting this one in my rec pile for the right people only.
Have you read VIVE LA DIFFERENCE? What do you think of books about women empowerment? Do you like to read about other cultures?