French minister sparks anger with Playboy cover

Marlène Schiappa gave interview on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights – photographed fully clothed in white dress

marlene schiappa
Schiappa is a long-time gender equality advocate, and has defended her interview
(Image credit: Foc Kan/Getty Images)

A French government minister has sparked a political row after she appeared – fully clothed – on the cover of Playboy magazine.

Marlène Schiappa, minister for the social economy and associations, gave an interview on gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights to the French-language edition of the former soft-porn magazine that now styles itself a lifestyle publication. She was photographed wearing a white dress.

But the cover was described by the French prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, as “not at all appropriate, especially in the current period”, according to Le Monde.

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Jean Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the 2022 presidential elections, also criticised Schiappa’s appearance in the magazine, tweeting: “France is going off the rails.”

France has been rocked by widespread protests and strikes after President Emmanuel Macron used executive powers to push through a deeply unpopular increase in the pension age, from 62 to 64.

“Where is the respect for the French people?” Green MP Sandrine Rousseau told TV channel BFM. “Women’s bodies should be able to be exposed anywhere, I don’t have a problem with that, but there’s a social context.”

Schiappa is a long-time women’s rights advocate who “spearheaded a new sexual harassment law which allows for on the spot fines to be issued to men who catcall, harass or follow women on the street”, said CNN.

The 40-year-old author was “plucked from obscurity” by Macron in 2017 to serve in his government, said France 24, and is “no stranger to controversy”.

Schiappa was defiant last night, tweeting: “Defending the right of women to dispose of their bodies is everywhere and all the time. In France, women are free. With all due respect to the backsliders and the hypocrites.”

Playboy has also defended the spread, calling Schiappa the “most Playboy-compatible’” of government ministers. “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,” the editor, Jean-Christophe Florentin, told AFP.

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