Rant + Norah Gaughan Sweater

In my blog description I mention that I might let fly the occasional "reflection" about living in France. I have yet to do that, for fear that it might turn into an enormous rant. When I have a bone to pick, I pick it! Nonetheless I am going to try to broach this subject in a non-ranty way...as much as possible anyway.

I'm going to relate what happened to me this week (and not for the first time) and I really want to know your thoughts on the matter.

I had to go to the doctor to demonstrate that I am fit enough to work. I believe that everyone in France who is employed by someone else has to do this. The medical exam was cursory, but they took also my job history. The doctor was filling out paperwork and asked my for name, birthdate, etc. Then she asked if I was married and had children. Yes, married, no children. And she asked my nationality: American.

Then she asked if my name was my maiden name (nom de jeune fille) or my husband's name (nom d'époux). It's my maiden name. Then she fusses a bit and asks why that is the name that my employer provided. To which I reply that it's the name that I use (c'est le nom que j'utilise).

The doctor replies: "nous utilisons le nom d'époux." In English, "we use the spouse's name" or married name. So I asked who 'we' was, doctors? I said "nous les médecins?" The answer: "nous les français." We, the French.

The doctor's tone when sharing this information with me was not of the "oh, that's interesting, we do this instead" variety, but rather, of the "this is how we do things around here" variety.

There is, by the way, no legal obligation in France for a woman to take her husband's name upon marriage. A woman has the right to use her husband's name, if she wishes, but she also retains her maiden name. She can use her husband's name alone, or in combination with her given name. This is, according to "article 264 du Code civil issu de la loi n° 2004-439 du 26 mai 2004, article 16" which I got from the following website: http://droit-finances.commentcamarche.net/faq/745-mariage-la-femme-peut-conserver-son-nom-de-jeune-fille. Having said that, I am not a lawyer.

Rant concluded. What are your thoughts on my conversation with the doctor?

In totally unrelated news, I finished my Norah Gaughan sweater:

Here are the buttons I've used, although I think I'll replace them later. They are a wee bit too small.

There are some rough patches on the sweater, but overall, I'm happy with it. And it gave me one more item to wear for the Me Made March challenge, yay! (I am looking forward to being to wear other clothes, starting tomorrow.) This also counts as one item completed for my Colette Spring Palette Challenge. It was a quick knit and easy to do.

Now I've picked up the sweater I started by Nicky Epstein. It's her Austrian Alps Zip Jacket from the book "Knitting on Top of the World." It's about 80% completed. I've joined the pieces together and am working on the raglan shaping.


  1. That wasn't ranty in the least.

    Your doctor is an asshat. Get a new one.

  2. Luckily I shouldn't have to see her again. She's the 'company' doctor. If I had written the post *before* ranting to Thomas it would've been much worse :)

  3. This is a gorgeous sweater, I admired it on Me-Made March too! And I think the buttons are pretty cute; both unexpected and interesting.
    As to your rant, frustrations are part and parcel of living in a foreign country. I had plenty to rant about when we lived in the US for a year...! :))

  4. I think there are just certain snippy women who refuse to recognize that other people live their lives differently. Even if she doesn't agree with your name choice, it's none of her business.

    Of course, I just read about the ban going into effect on face veils in France this week, so perhaps that country just doesn't like to let women make their own choices, however that might look?

    -- Penny

  5. @ Carolyn, Thanks for the compliment of the sweater! I imagine one could have a lot to rant about living in the US. I certainly did while I was living there :) Where did you live in the US?

    @ Penny, France does like to regulate things. To me, everything seems very top down. Being a 'rican I'm definitely used to a more loosey-goosey approach, esp. as regards things that I would consider personal (i.e. names and veils). ;)

  6. Yeah, us Americans and our crazy religious-freedom notions ... :-)

    Tout le monde, c'est fou! Or should that be il est fou? I've lost most of my French as I haven't used it in nearly 15 years (feeling old ... ).

    -- Penny


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