When I was a senior in high school, my best friend lived as a nanny for a doctor, his wife and five kids. The doctor and his wife were young and lively and liked to throw parties. The doctor asked my friend the nanny if she and I would like to dress up like French maids and serve drinks at their upcoming party. We had just turned eighteen and were flattered at the invitation. We had been Maids a Milking in the senior play (The Twelve Days of Christmas) so had pretty blue dresses we’d sewn together with white aprons. We adapted them and pulled off looking like the French maids the doctor ordered.
Times have changed, haven’t they? I mean really, that was sexist, wasn’t it? To ask that of two innocent young girls? But those were the days of Playboy Bunnies and no one thought anything sinister. It was all in fun. But why French? And who started that anyway? Did World War II play into it? Is it because the French are rumored to tolerate mistresses? And of course, those mistresses would be French women. Maids maybe? Making a cliché out of the sexy French maid? Let me tell you what the encyclopedia tells me about French women, particularly housewives. We can all learn something.
The encyclopedia that I’m going to quote from (Grolier Encyclopedia, 1956, Volume IX, pg. 40) was put together, during the years before, after and during World War II. Here is what their researcher discovered about French housewives:
One feature of the French character is much the same in all parts – they are all hard workers and their love of independence makes them thrifty. French housewives are good managers and can make a little go a long way. And the French woman is her husband’s adviser and partner; often she understands his business; often she carries on a business herself. In all domestic economy hers is the deciding voice. The manual laborer’s wife does not have to ask him for money; she takes his wages and allows him so much out of them.
Now that… is a strong woman. And strong women don’t think they’re sexy, they know it. Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:
Book One, Black Pansy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1484900278
Book Two, Blue Violet: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZWX0R4
Book Three, Black Lilac: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EKJMTKA
Book Four, Ellie: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LWVNCTS
Book Five, Rose Thorn: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X1GN58T
Book Six, Mississippi Wild Blue: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072L2WWMR
Book Seven, Dandelion Lane: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073WPHMWG