France: Less Progressive Than America?

Well, well, well, how the tables have turned, France. For years now, the world has made fun of Americans for being ignorant, unsophisticated, fat, lazy, and intolerant. Now its your turn to have the worst of your population in the global spotlight.

A proposed measure to allow gay marriage and adoption has unexpectedly run into strong opposition. Time reports:

The clamor against gay marriage in France flies in the face of a country famous for its supposedly open-minded attitudes on a host of social and behavioral issues. And ironically, that hesitation also comes just as American voters — whom many French consider pathologically puritanical — passed same-sex-union ballot initiatives in three states on Nov. 6. Contrasting with those progressive American election results are comments by French industrialist and conservative legislator Serge Dassault on the same day. Responding to Hollande’s same-sex-marriage reform, Dassault warned that its goal of giving gay and lesbian couples the same legal status as heterosexual unions meant the “end of the family, the end of child development … an enormous danger for the entire nation.”

“Look at history — it’s one of the reasons for the decadence of Greece,” Dassault told France Culture radio in comments about legalizing same-gender marriage. “There will be no more reproduction, so what’s the point? Do we want a nation of gays? If so, in 10 years, there’ll be no one left. It’s stupid.”

You’ll have to excuse my schadenfreude. I bristle when I hear 20 and 30 somethings (I am one of those 30 somethings) tear down American culture. We view ourselves as NASCAR watching, McDonald’s pounding, evolution denying simpletons. Contrast that with the enviable French: sophisticated, liberal, worldly, tolerant; what with their universal healthcare and baguettes and all.  Now we look like Voltaire’s second coming, passing many gay rights initiatives over the past several years, while France looks intolerant.

Now, France has much going for it. The lifestyle is enviable, the food is ridiculously good, and the people are (despite all stereotypes) as friendly as anywhere else. Do not be fooled though: they have their NASCAR watching, beer swilling denizens; Americans just can’t identify them them like we can here.

American culture is in the world’s spotlight constantly. We are important to the world and the French are not. Once a spotlight shines on anyone’s culture like it does on America’s the warts become a little easier to see. Maybe France, and all of Eastern Europe along with it, isn’t quite as sophisticated as liberal Americans make it out to be?

Oh, who am I kidding? I’d still love to live in France.

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