Xenophobia. One of my favorite books for Regency research is Dancing into Battle: A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo by Nick Foulkes. Within the first few chapters, the word xenophobia comes up in reference to one of the female members of the peerage--a countess, if memory serves--and her hesitance to go with her family to Brussels during the war. Several high falutin peeps thought it would be fun to make the journey 'cross sea to be near the excitement of battle. And it was fun, actually. Balls and soirees with hero officers. Rubbing elbows with foreigners, discovering new customs and cuisine. Most fashionable, as Jane Austen would say.
So, why was Countess Prissy-Pants so hesitant to go to Brussels? Why was she labeled by the author as a xenophobe?
The dictionary defines xenophobia as a fear of foreigners or strangers or that which is foreign or strange. She didn't like the Belgians. Thought they were nasty, too different, too un-like her own people. One gets the picture of a well-dressed lady with her nose turned up in the air, lip curled, and the word, "Ewwww..." just dangling on the tip of her educated tongue. Right?
But this is actually a common occurrence even in today's society. Especially with Americans, though I have heard of a few other countries who don't like us (Americans) either. And I have to wonder, why is that? Why are we so hesitant and standoffish against that which is different or foreign or strange? I mean, I'm hesitant to eat at an Indian restaurant, because the smell of curry makes me shiver--and not in a good way. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and go for it. Certainly seems like a better deal than being labeled a xenophobe.
Anything foreign or strange you're scared of?