Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for...

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?


Jenn said...

Great X post!!

Cheers, Jenn

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Alyssia! I'm scared of foreign bugs. I'm glad I live where I do because the bugs are big enough and really aren't that big compared to many other countries; heck, even compared to other U.S. states.

I LOVE other cultures and people (just not bugs, haha)!!! I think that's what makes our world so brilliant. There's an endless amount of fascinating things to see and learn and wonderful people to meet and delicious foods to eat!

Have a lovely weekend and happy A to Z!!

Bonnie Rae said...

I had Indian food for the first time last year and loved it! Jan and I go almost once a month! =)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Never heard of this book, but this is the second time I've seen this word today. I think when you step outside your comfort zone you find many things you didn't know you liked.

Enjoyed reading your post.

Happy A to Z-ing!

Diane Weidenbenner said...

Vegetables. Foreign vegetables - they scare me to death. Especially since I'm just now getting used to eating some vegetables that I swore I'd never eat. I'm trying to eat healthier and it's hard when you need to eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Sorry - it's Friday and I'm feeling a bit goofy. Hope I didn't ruin your comments area.

Lynda R Young said...

I'm pretty adventurous and I love new experiences... but I also love coming home and the familiar. Fabulous X post.

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