A French government minister has been scolded by members of her own party after posing for a photoshoot for the cover of Playboy magazine during a time of deep civil unrest following the government’s controversial pension reforms.
In another government faux pas, Marlene Schiappa, who serves as minister for the social economy, will become the first female politician to appear on the front cover of the magazine when the April edition is published.
The 40-year-old minister was fully clothed for the shoot with leaked photos showing her posing in a bow-tied white dress, and another with her wrapped seductively in the French flag. The headline on the front cover reads: “A liberated minister.”
The photo shoot is accompanied by a 12-page interview in which she talks about women’s and LGBT rights.
Political opponents and allies alike have criticized Schiappa for the move, questioning both the timing and its appropriateness.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne reportedly scolded the minister for her decision to appear on the magazine cover, telling her it “was not at all appropriate, especially in the current period,” according to BFMTV citing government sources.
“I thought it was April Fool’s Day in advance,” added Ludovic Mendes, a Renaissance party colleague of Ms. Schiappa’s.
“I can understand the feminist fight, but I don’t see why we would do it in Playboy. There are other ways to do it,” he added.
Sandrine Rousseau, a Green Party politician, questioned the timing of the stunt and suggested it was being used to detract from the headlines on the ongoing mass protests across the country over the French government’s decision to bypass a parliamentary vote on its controversial pension reform.
“We are in the middle of a social crisis, there is the issue of policing, there are people between life and death; it mostly strikes me as a smoke screen,” she told BFMTV on Friday.
Left-wing radical and former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said that “France is going off the rails” making reference to Schiappa’s Playboy appearance and President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to give an interview to children’s magazine Pif Gadget despite avoiding the media for weeks.
“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,” Mélenchon tweeted on Saturday.
Schiappa took to the social media platform herself over the weekend to defend her decision.
“Defending the right of women to exercise control over their bodies is everywhere and all the time. In France, women are free. With all due respect to the backsliders and the hypocrites,” she wrote.