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Who is Marlène Schiappa, the French minister who appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine?

A feminist junior minister in the Macron’s government has caused a furor for appearing on the cover of French Playboy despite being clothed.

Marlene Schiappa, feminist French minister criticized for appearing on cover of Playboy

Both opponents and colleagues are criticizing French government minister Marlène Schiappa for appearing on the front cover of the French-language edition of Playboy magazine. She does not appear nude neither on the cover nor in any of the photos that accompany the 12-page interview to be publish in the April issue of Playboy.

However, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne personally expressed her displeasure to Ms Schiappa telling her that the interview “was not at all appropriate, especially in the current period.” The government of President Emmanuel Macron has been dealing with unrest as it pushes through controversial reforms to the pension system.

Who is Marlène Schiappa?

Ms Schiappa, 40, mother of two, is a junior minister in charge of social affairs. Before joining the government in 2017 as the first Gender Equality Minister, she wrote books on pregnancy, motherhood and feminism. She is also a regular guest on French TV talk shows. She put into place legislation in 2018 that outlawed catcalling and street harassment.

“Defending the right of women to do what they want with their bodies: everywhere and all the time. In France, women are free. Whether it annoys the retrogrades and hypocrites or not,” Ms Schiappa wrote defending herself on Twitter over the week.

The current controversy surrounding the Playboy interview where she talks about women’s and LGBTQ rights is not her first. She wrote a book in 2010 that offered sex tips for overweight people that some found reinforced harmful stereotypes.

“You won’t make me say anything bad about Marlène Schiappa (...) being a liberated woman is not so easy.”

Jeanne Baron, TV Journalist

“Where is the respect for the French people?”

Fellow women’s rights activist and Green MP Sandrine Rousseau while agreeing with the sentiment of Ms Schiappa “women’s bodies should be able to be exposed anywhere. I don’t have a problem with that,” questioned the timing, “but there’s a social context.”

“Where is the respect for the French people?” Ms Rousseau, an outspoken critic of the centrist government said on the BFM channel on Saturday referencing the designer white dress the minister is pictured in. “People who are going to have to work for two years more, who are demonstrating, who are losing days of salary, who aren’t managing to eat because of inflation?”

“Playboy is not a soft porn magazine”

The editor of the Playboy in France Jean-Christophe Florentin defended the Ms Schiappa for appearing in the magazine. “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,” Florentin told AFP.

“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 said made her the most “Playboy compatible” of government ministers.


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