French minister under fire after posing Playboy front cover
French Junior Minister of Citizenship Marlene Schiappa is set to appear on the cover of Playboy. /Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
French Junior Minister of Citizenship Marlene Schiappa is set to appear on the cover of Playboy. /Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

French Junior Minister of Citizenship Marlene Schiappa is set to appear on the cover of Playboy. /Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

A French junior minister is facing backlash from opposition politicians and her own party after posing for the cover of Playboy

Marlene Schiappa was photographed in a white dress for a centerpiece article which is soon to be released in the erotic magazine – a decision that the junior social affairs minister has defended on feminist grounds.

However, the article allegedly incurred the anger of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who was said to have called the 40-year-old politician to express her displeasure.

The story comes at a time when the French government and its communication strategy is under intense pressure amid widespread anger over President Emmanuel Macron's move to push through unpopular pension reforms. 

According to French newspaper Le Parisien, Borne telephoned Schiappa to say that the interview was "not at all appropriate, all the more so in the current period." 

Greens MP and fellow women's rights activist Sandrine Rousseau said in response to the article: "Where is the respect for the French people? 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?

"Women's bodies should be able to be exposed anywhere, I don't have a problem with that, but there's a social context." 


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The Playboy cover is set to be accompanied by a 12-page interview with the minister, who will discuss new legislation that she helped introduce outlawing catcalling and street harassment. The feature will also cover more broadly her stance on women's and LGBT rights in France. 

"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", Schiappa wrote on Twitter over the weekend. 

Playboy has also defended the article which is set to be published in its French-language edition.

Schiappa was the "most 'Playboy-compatible'" of government ministers "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," editor Jean-Christophe Florentin said.

"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 added, while admitting there were "still a few undressed women but they're not the majority of the pages."


'Off the rails'

Criticism of Schiappa has also been focused on the wider issue of the French government's media approach while it faces such strong public opposition and increasingly violent protests over raising the pension age from 62 to 64. 

Macron, who rarely gives interviews to the French press, has also faced anger after offering his thoughts on political power and pensions in a long interview published in children's magazine Pif, le mag last week.

The leader of the left opposition party La France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Melenchon, said that France was "going off the rails", referencing both the Playboy cover and Macron's softball interview.

Schiappa, a mother of two, was an author before her career in politics, writing about the challenges of motherhood, women's health and pregnancy.

She also wrote a 2010 book that gave sex tips for the overweight, which some critics accused of helping to exacerbate negative stereotypes. 


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Source(s): Reuters ,AFP

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