There seems to exist an American fascination with French women. Some sort of phantasm like what is inaccessible.
When Gertrude Ederle died 6 years ago, it was reminded how, being a member of the American women team for the 1924 Olympics in Paris (the last ones to date and certainly for the foreseeable future), she was relegated to the outskirts of the French capital, the American delegation wanting to keep the girls away from the cauldron of vice, lust and lewdness Paris was supposed to be by then.
As a matter of fact, Puritanism wasn’t exactly the kind of fun the French were having during these same years. When
N. Hawthorne was writing “The Red Scarlet”(1850), G. Flaubert was working on Madame Bovary (1857)… Then there was Colette and her Gigi series about women enjoying freedom in the choice of her partners/lovers. Not really the American habits of the time. And then came Françoise Sagan and her Bonjour Tristesse (1954). This novel was an incredible hit when it was published in . America
The French were at it again with their stories of emancipated, multipartners women. Now, wasn’t that some fodder for their reputation of womanizers, free sex etc. Remember l’Origine du monde by G. Courbet? Do I have to mention the movies where naked breast was a common fixture of French films? How many times have I read souvenirs by American males telling how they would have killed anybody to see a French movie, knowing that was a not to be missed opportunity to have a glimpse of the forbidden fruit?
Nowadays, how many times are naked women to be seen in American movies or on American TV channels? (Here is another culture shock for Americans spending some time in
when they watch French TV channels or see posters in the streets). Now, this mistress thing is a follow up of literary, history, painting etc. items which actually were a referenced discriminator between France America and . France
After Colette and just before F. Sagan there was also Simone de Beauvoir with her deuxième sexe which didn’t pass unheeded in the
. Add to this her 10 years or so long liaison with American Nelson Algren while she was with Sartre (who, himself…)… Although I don’t know if that liaison was particularly known in US . America