Despite the fact that I now have dual citizenship (French & British), I am acutely aware that I am not 100% British yet. I get constant reminders of this and sometimes it can all become a bit too much. Here are a few examples:
“- Muriel, the UK can not continue to finance France agricultural politic! The UK needs to get out of the EU!” Blame the French…Well, what can I say, I live in London now and I don’t make the policies, do I?
“ No offence, but I once had a French flatmate who never had a shower! Can you believe it?” My interlocutor is looking at me for some sort of validation. He won’t get it.
“ I love the French: they know how to strike, don’t they?” Well, again, I won’t comment.
“Bloody French: they have increased taxes on secondary homes in France!” The guy is angry with me for some reason. Well, I have to pay the additional taxes too…But because I happen to be French, in his eyes, I am guilty as charged.
“ French women are so sexy. I love French actresses!” Thank you, I am flattered. That said, I have been living in London for a decade now.
What do you do when it all becomes too much? What can you do against stereotypes? The thing is, I am outnumbered. I can’t win and most of the time I don’t think that there is any point in fighting anyway. So here are my tips:
- When under attack, I try to find a Scot to help me. You see, the Scots and the French have been allies for a long, long time. It was called the ‘Auld Alliance’ and some might argue that it is still in place. I can always count on a Scot to defend me in case of need. I wonder whether the Scots and the French are real friends or only want to present a united front against the English. Never mind, as long as it helps me, I will take it.
- Fight back, but make it personal…”Come on: don’t be so bitter because you have been dumped by a French girlfriend. It happens to the best. Get over it!”
- Whether they like it or not, it is highly likely that your interlocutor has some French ancestry. Or a French surname /name. They need to be reminded of this fact: “ Do you know that at least 3 millions of British have French blood? Given your name, I think that you are one of them”
- I have the nuclear option: “I am British now, so don’t ask me?”
That said, whatever I say, I know that I can’t win against stereotypes. But here is one thing I know: nationality is not in our genes. My daughters are far more British than French. Go figure!