France is right to ‘drive like a woman’ because most sex stereotypes are wrong

woman driving
'Her tedious school run is my burn through the country lanes,' writes Sitwell - Getty

Traditional Frenchmen are quaking dans leurs bottes. It’s the most outrageous official diktat since Marie Antoinette probably didn’t say, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”.

This week, a French government campaign saw advertisements imploring men to “conduisez comme une femme” (drive like a woman), but while many men might have spat out their morning croissant as they spotted the ads in their copy of Le Figaro, it is, of course, very sensible and very right. As Florence Guillaume, head of the French government safety agency, said: “Men still tend to want to show their strength through their driving, even in difficult conditions involving weather, tiredness and alcohol.”

Indeed, we men, for which I mean this man – me – have brains so wired that where a car journey can be a chore for a woman, it is a joy, a passion, for a man. Her tedious school run is my burn through the country lanes. I engage with wheel and motor, tyres and road and music. It is freedom, self-expression. That is providing we men are in the car alone. If our other halves are in the car, it’s a whole other no-fun zone.

Thus, the beautifully named Florence Guillaume is on to something. And if we look at other sex stereotypes, if you swap them, it would actually lead to a better, safer and happier world.

For example, men are better at domestic chores, hence you should clean like a man. When I vacuum or dust, I become like a person obsessed: I clean every inch, every skirting, every picture frame, every nook and cranny like I’m a criminal eradicating fingerprints. At the end of the day, I do the kitchen surfaces with a similar zeal, doing two cleans, first with cloth and water, then with a squirt of anti-bacterial liquid.

And I’m a mean ironer and I love the order of the shirt iron: the back, then front, then sleeves, cuffs and collar. And I can fold a shirt like a shop assistant.

Then watch TV like a man. By which I mean get ridiculously over-emotional, well up and experience the flow of tears in Dragon’s Den and The Repair Shop.

Play sport like a woman. Women tend to be both more chivalrous on the field and are definitely less wimpish and do not fake injury like men do in football. And men should behave like women at drinks parties. Men see drinks parties as a sort of speed-dating contest. So when a couple leave the party, the man will have “done” everyone, talked to all and sundry, dashed in and out of chats, caught up with so-and-so and had 36 different random conversations. The woman, meanwhile, had a deep and emotional engagement, a penetrating conversation with no more than two people and she stood in the same place all evening. She is enriched, he’s just drunk and slightly embarrassed at something he might have said to someone whose name he now can’t remember.

Drink like a woman. If a woman has a gin and tonic, she feels the drink absorb into her body, she has an acute sense of the feeling of alcohol affecting her senses. She’s then had a drink and will look for a glass of water. For man that first drink is just that, a gateway, a loosener and now he’s ready to plough on through a couple of bottles of wine.

Brush your teeth like a woman. Men brush their teeth. That’s all. But a woman: she brushes, correctly, in a circular motion – she’s not filing her teeth with a saw – then she flosses and rinses with a little mouthwash. And she has one dentist and at least two hygienist appointments each year (rather than one dentist visit every five years).

Finally: argue and tell jokes like a man. Sorry girls, these are not for swapping. There are some things that you just can’t do.