‘Courageous’ French minister under fire for Playboy cover amid political upheaval in country

French upheaval stood in stark contrast to one minister’s priorities as a Playboy photoshoot and gay rights interview appeared to supersede the erosion of democracy.

For weeks, the streets of France have seen fiery protests as citizens reportedly revolted at President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to bypass a parliamentary vote and unilaterally raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old. The ensuing chaos however, which has seen routine clashes with police, didn’t stop feminist French Minister for the Social Economy and French Associations Marlène Schiappa from appearing on the cover of Playboy magazine.

The images, which accompanied a 12-page interview where she discussed women’s and LGBT rights, left the 40-year-old former and first Gender Equality Minister defending her decision by stating, “Defending the right of women to have control of their bodies, that’s everywhere and all the time. In France, women are free. With all due respect to the detractors and hypocrites.”


That strong statement from the self-described “sapiosexual,” someone attracted to intelligent people, did little to combat the onslaught of outrage from political figures and citizens alike.

For one, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne was reported as telling Schiappa it “wasn’t appropriate, especially during this period,” according to BFMTV, a CNN affiliate.

Meanwhile, Jean Luc Mélenchon, who came in third to Macron during the 2022 election presidential election said, “In a country where the President expresses himself in Pif and his minister in Playboy, the problem would be the opposition. France is going off the rails.”


Not everyone was opposed to Schiappa’s racy display as Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin came to her defense Sunday during an interview with CNews and said, “I wanted to say that Marlene Schiappa is a courageous female politician who has her character and who has her style which is not mine, but I respect.”

Additionally, Playboy editor Jean-Christophe Florentin told AFP that the minister was “compatible…because she is attached to the rights of women and she has understood that it’s not a magazine for old ‘machos’ but could be an instrument for the feminist cause.”

He added, “Playboy is not a soft porn magazine, but a 300-page quarterly ‘mook’ (a mix of a book and a magazine) that is intellectual and on trend.”

Schiappa’s focus on the rights of selective groups was especially out of sync with the conditions of France where many have voiced concern that all rights are being eroded. Though the pension reform has been attributed as the catalyst of the protests, that aspect may be only one facet of a nation that sees its voice being trampled on by a government that believes it knows best and will stop at nothing to see its will imposed on the people.

As some said, “They aren’t giving up, they are getting more determined to regain the democracy that Macron is stripping bit by bit.”





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