When I first arrived in Switzerland, the term ‘Frau’ slightly stressed me out.
Mainly because I’m not married and I spent the last ten years insisting on being called ‘Ms’ in the UK, because I don’t want to be a ‘Miss’ (I’m over thirty after all) and would never choose to be called ‘Mrs’. It reminds me of my mum and my friends’ mums and not at all of me!
So imagine my distress on finding out that the is no ‘Ms’ alternative in the lovely German language – it’s ‘Frau’ or bust.
And that’s exactly what ‘Frau’ reminded me of…. A big bust, a thick tweed skirt suit and a very scary hair do. A matronly type, over forty and living alone – with a cat or two for company. Apologies to my Swiss and German friends, this is the ignorance of an English girl abroad.
Now, imagine my surprise on realising that I’ve started to grow fond of being a ‘Frau’. Here’s why.
1. You don’t have to be married to be one. You’re only a Fräulein until you’re in your teens; then you’re a full blown Frau. This is equality at it’s best …. No one knows if you’re married or not (unless you wear a ring or choose to tell them) therefore you are treated the same way as anyone else, everywhere you go. It’s liberating!
2. The word has an air of sophistication to it (once you forget your silly pre-conceived ideas). Frauuuuuuuuowwwww. It takes some pronunciation. It has presence. There’s more to this relationship than an attachment to someone else.
3. People always use it to address you, no first name terms in German unless you already know each other. It’s a mark of respect and you feel respected.
4. A Frau isn’t afraid to deal with the maintenance guy when the hallway cupboard breaks (in German). She doesn’t need to act like a helpless girl, because she is not one. She is a Frau.
5. It means you are responsible. A Frau must pay her own taxes, have her own bank account and be a grown up. You are no longer a Fräulein after all.
6. Best of all, it’s not an extension of Herr. The words are different. It may not have always been like that (I don’t know), but it is now.
I love being a Frau. If I ever go back to England, I might even try and keep it. 🙂
Frau-ing it up with my fave Frauen!
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