French minister Marlene Schiappa defended her decision to pose for Playboy magazine after weeks of criticism. The French politician gave a 12-page interview on women’s freedom, feminism, ecology, politics and literature.
The controversy arose because the interview was given to Playboy, the magazine founded by Hugh Hefner, known for its bunnies and images of women who are not always fully dressed.
Speaking to The Times, a month after the published controversial photos, she said: “Yes, OK, there has been criticism from some circles but 100,000 copies of Playboy were sold in a few hours and…not only have I not lost the support of the population but I’ve gained it. I am going up in the polls, so, you see, the French people did not say to themselves, ‘Oh my God, we don’t want to hear anything more about her.’ They said, rather, ‘We are going to go to buy Playboy.’”
She added: “Just last night I crossed a woman who told me, ‘I’ve been a feminist since 1972, I fought for the right for women to do what they want with their bodies and so, me, I back what you are doing.’ It was sweet of her to show her support in that way.”
The move has been highly criticised at a time protesters were turning violent in France over Emmanuel Macron‘s pension reforms.
The minister appeared on the cover of the magazine dressed and wearing a long white dress.
According to reports in the newspaper Le Parisien, a French councillor said of the move: “It doesn’t matter how she is dressed, it’s crazy. Such a thing is not possible in the midst of the social crisis on pensions.”
Others added: “We hoped, unfortunately in vain, that you were an April fool.”
The criticisms come from both colleagues and opponents.
From the left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon said: “In a country where the president speaks in Pif (children’s magazine) and his minister Schiappa in Playboy, they say that the problem is the opposition.”
At the time of the publication, Schiappa’s team said in a statement: “We have always claimed the fact that we speak to everyone and have unconventional communication.
“After all, this is one of the reasons for the numerous support enjoyed by the secretary of state. Marlene Schiappa is the only one in government capable of responding to a magazine like Playboy, and is the first policy to appear on its cover.
“In the interview, Marlene Schiappa talks about the freedom of women in Afghanistan and recalls that France defends the right to abortion but also LGBT+ rights on the international scene.”
Even before entering politics, the minister had often claimed the freedom of women to express themselves, denouncing the barriers imposed by aesthetic canons and tradition.
Jean-Christophe Florentin French editor of Playboy, defined Marlène Schiappa “the most Playboy-compatible politics”.
He explained that Playboy is no longer a magazine for old male chauvinists but on the contrary can be a tool of the feminist cause, so much so that he has also published texts by Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale.
He calls it a mook, between a book and a magazine, and certainly not an erotic magazine.