Not Saussure

March 25, 2007

Divided by a common language

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Foreigners, Opinion polls — notsaussure @ 1:18 pm

While I don’t, for the moment, want to discuss the substantive point about the EU, I think Tim Worstall rather misses the point here. A propos a remark by Will Hutton that ‘The varied languages hide just how very similar we all are’, Tim writes,

Given that we share roughly the same language and have even more in common (things like the basics of the legal system and so on) with those in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US and so on, this argument means that we should means that they are even less foreigners than the French or Swedes are.

I take this in a rather different way; to my mind, the fact that Americans — I’m not talking about Commonwealth countries here — speak English with a funny accent tends to make us forget they’re foreigners, and thus likely to be dissimilar to us in many ways — while we’re constantly reminded by the fact they speak a different language that the French, Swedes and whoever else have failed to draw first prize in life’s lottery.

If, for example, a survey of young men’s attitudes to women’s dress and modesty — a self-selecting survey, to be sure,and one conducted among a particular, though very sizeable, religious group — were made in Britain or any other EU country, and elicited replies such as

Ladies, this is where you can get confused. Many women would think guys are ‘all about’ women who flaunt their bodies. I am here to attempt to speak for us […] men fighting the fight for purity. Women like this disgust and frustrate me. They take advantage of something that God intended to be beautiful. They lure men away from that which they truly love. They make men like me fight and struggle, and cause many to fall. THESE WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE ADORED OR FOLLOWED! [… Sisters, please do not think that this attention is anything more than a result of short-sighted shallow men who are sexually frustrated and unwilling to follow God’s plan for sex. To me, women who flaunt their bodies make me turn my head, repulsed, and pray that God would guard my heart,


snapshot4.pngIt actually really angers me. I find it disrespectful. I don’t think they get it. Do they realize that they have just caused someone to have sexual thoughts about them in their mind? Now the guy feels bad because he fell AGAIN and the girl wiggles on her merry way. […] When that girl flaunts her body in a sexual way, I get really frustrated, because she should know better! Another thing I would like to know is..where is her father??!! He is a man, he knows how we think, how can he let her go out dressed like that??!!

we would, I think, assume it had been conducted somewhere like Bradford or Brick Lane and some folks would be all of a fluster about the respondents’ failure to integrate with mainstream British culture and about the risk they might in the future become jihadis. However, we would be mistaken.

Via Andrew Sullivan and Feministe; the latter, while distinctly unamused, are most amusing about the replies. Money quote:

Never before have I been so tempted to dress up in a booty shorts and boobie tassles and go shake my titties in the faces of some young Christian men.

UPDATE: Mr Eugenides has spotted another item, also via Mr Sullivan, that is possibly germane to the topic. As he says,

The capacity of our American friends to amaze us never ceases. Absolutely extraordinary.

For a moment when I saw the pictures, I thought of Helmut Newton, whose collection White Women contains some strikingly perverse images of murder scenes (not in the collection but the only one I could find online) shot in the manner of fashion photography (and originally made for The Eyes of Laura Mars, apparently). But they all have the women as the murderers rather than the victims; not even Newton, as far as I know, pushed his taste for the perverse as far as snuff pictures as fashion shoots.

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  1. The first time I felt like a ‘foreigner’ was when I went to New York. I still don’t know why, but it was a very different feeling than I had going to any European city (still had a blast though. Great city!).
    I remember coming acorss a survey of social attitudes across the developed world, with the UK coming in, not near the US but splat bang in the middle of Europe. We have far more in common with Europeans, and it is a puzzle as to why we dont accept that. We Brits tend to envy the ‘Contiental’ life, not the US one.

    Comment by EvilEuropean — March 25, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

  2. I lived in California for two years, and had a great time. But it was certainly foreign country, and the longer I lived there the more foreign it seemed. And I was assured by folks who were originally from elsewhere in the States but who had lived over here — the ‘fly-over’ states in particular (as in the ones you see when flying from one coast to the other — I suppose ‘the interior’ sounds too much like Heart of Darkness) that that California felt to them far more European than their home states.

    Comment by notsaussure — March 25, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  3. come again? You’re going to have to repeat that, Notsaussure. The braincells are not allowing me to comprehend what you’re saying this evening.

    Comment by jameshigham — March 26, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

  4. […] about the differences between Europe and America this last week, Not Saussure reminding us how it’s easy for Brits to forget just how different our American friends can be – with more from Tim Worstall, this time looking on the transatlantic shift in economic […]

    Pingback by Nosemonkey / Europhobia » Blog Archive » Euroblog roundup 2 — April 8, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

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