Right off the bat I want everyone to realize that despite the successful invasion by Disney, McDonald's and Coke, cultural differences still remain between the French and us. This week I witnessed an example. Because of my work schedule, my 8- and 11-year-old kids attend school in Provence four months a year. The other day they came home practicing a song that their classes were learning for a school concert. The song's message is this: I have some good tobacco in my tobacco pouch, but you don't get any because it's only for my good friends. So there!
Politically correct here is not politically correct there, so if during this story I appear to be at any given moment a tad sexist, blame it on the French. France, where even the word for wine, vin, is masculine.
Anyway, the last time I had to hire someone to run my office in Burgundy, it occurred to me that I have always (three times) hired a woman, and my automatic inclination was to do so again. Uh-oh. Don't forget my Berkeley roots, where it comes with the territory to be sensitive to infringements on constitutional rights, illegal wars, racism and sexism. Was I in the process of making a blatantly gender-based decision? I had some soul- searching to do. Why did I prefer keeping a woman in that, uh, position? Was I being...sexist?