Let’s get to the important FACTS as published here in France (so it must be true). She’s the mother of two stunning teenage daughters, divorced, remarried bloke with two sons, then had another son with him. Spent most of last year in Canada taking a timeout from marriage returning as political campaigning gathered momentum. Reportedly didn’t vote in the second runoff for the Presidential election (polemic galore) and then horror upon horrors, tut tut, turns up at the Official Ceremony haute couturely decked in an outfit designed by an Italian rather than French fashion house.
Yep, welcome don’t-really-wannabe First Lady Cecila to the Elysees palace. She’s already wowing the “serious” weeklies and there are comparisons to another Premiere Dame from many years ago whom the French often view as an adopted daughter. It can only be a matter of time before the glossies bid a huge BONJOUR to the latest incarnation of Jackie O.
There are though very mixed messages for women in French society. Or there again, maybe not.
Mr S achieves almost sexual parity (can that exist) in his 15-strong cabinet (but where’s the transsexual?). Eight men and seven women? Among the latter a political bruiser in at the Interior Ministry (a Top Job), a newcomer in at the Justice Ministry – an extra plus she is of Arab descent……that goes down a storm with the media. An outspoken, slightly wonky-thinking pro-gay at Health and Sport tempered with an outspoken and seriously Catholic (and apparently voted the person the Gay Movement loves most in spite of her homophobia) ensconced at Social Cohesion (of all things). The three other women are at Culture, Agriculture and finally a 39-year-old at Research and Science.
Simone Veil (bless her) wielding an awful lot of power, advice and tender loving care (she is a woman after all) in the background.
Progress indeed! On the surface at least.
But wait WHAT is happening over there in the meeja? You know that enlightened metier stuffed to the gills with liberal thinkers. Are those in charge of that oh-so-powerful tool paying heed? Are they heck as like!
Take the case of Beatrice Schoenberg. She’s the main anchor on the weekend evening news on France 2, the country’s main public TV Channel (a French BBC 1). Well she was until February this year when she had to “take a break” while the election campaign heated up. Why? Because she was/is married to Jean-Louis Borloo – a minister in the then government and touted at the time as a potential candidate for Prime Minister should Sarkozy have won.
So poor old BS shunted to the sidelines with the promise of returning to our screens again in her old job in the Summer. But now it appears that’s not to be. Hubby hasn’t been made PM but has still landed one of the top jobs, a fact which evidently prevents BS – with her years of experience – remaining objective. Even before she stepped down every word and nuance was allegedly being analysed and interpreted. So much for equality of opportunity. And now Ms S is to be allowed the highly sought after job of presenting a weekly programme on Celebrities. She must feel as though she has reached the very pinnacle of her career.
Take the case of Christine Okrent, one of this country’s most respected journalists and herself a former presenter of the daily news on that very same channel (albeit several years ago). She has been hosting a critically acclaimed current affairs programme on the other national public channel France 3. But she’s in trouble too because she is married to a certain Bernard Kouchner…..yep that’s right the very same. So what are the chances of her lasting very much longer.
Sad – and nothing new unfortunately. Yonks ago another anchor on France 2, Anne Sinclair, had to resign because she married Dominique Strauss-Kahn (later Finance Minister) and more recently, Marie Drucker said goodbye at France 3 – she was shoved – because she was dating a member of the government.
Meanwhile over at commercial telly, things are hardly any better – in the other direction. TF1 (ITV à la Française) has clearly been smooching with Sarkozy but learned nothing of the gender lesson. Two recent appointments, actually both within the last fortnight went to cronies of the newly elected. And take note, we’re not talking minor jobs here. One will be Chairman and the other Mr S’s former electoral strategist) will also be on the Board. Clearly no conflict of interest there for either of them. Great to see gender justice being exercised. Does the name Berlusconi scream to mind?
Oh yes and during THE debate the week before the Presidential vote, TF1’s top anchor (a man) and France 2’s Head of News (a woman – and funnily enough the one who has just shown Beatrice Schoenberg the door) co-hosted the Sarkozy-Royal battle.
While much was being made of equal time being allocated to both candidates for their answers, data released after the debate showed that parity had fared less well between the presenters and the amount of time they spent posing questions or interjecting. 90:10 per cent. No prizes for guessing in whose favour.
Louvre and Carrousel, circa 1900 - If you wonder what the Louvre and especially its Carrousel looked like in the beginning of the 20th Century, wonder no more, here is your answer. Now...