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French feminists slam Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

Former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s comments about feminism, published in the cover story of the current issue of Vogue, have provoked a flurry of outraged responses via Twitter in France.


Former French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy may be far from the Elysée Palace, but she never seems to be far from the headlines.

After lending her face to an ad campaign, her voice to a new album, and her presence to a high-profile wine auction, Bruni-Sarkozy is once again in the spotlight for comments she made during an interview published in the December/January issue of Vogue.

“You don’t need to be a feminist in my generation,” the 45-year-old ex-model and folk-pop singer is quoted as saying in the interview, which is the issue’s cover story. “There are pioneers who paved the way. I’m not at all a militant feminist. On the other hand, I’m a bourgeoise.”

The remarks have sparked a furious stream of reactions from French feminists, public figures, and women all over the country over the last few days. And, as per tradition in modern media controversies, the women took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.

One prominent French feminist group, “Osez le féminisme!” (which translates into “Dare to be feminist!”), urged Twitter users to use the “hashtag” #ChereCarlaBruni, which means #DearCarlaBruni, to respond to Bruni-Sarkozy’s statement. “Explain to Carla Bruni why your generation needs feminism!” the group posted on the social networking site.

‘I need feminism!’ some women respond

One of the most retweeted messages concerning Bruni-Sarkozy’s remarks came from a member of “Osez le féminisme!” by the Twitter account name of @ClaireS_C. “75,000 adult women raped in France per year is enough to convince me that my generation needs feminism,” she wrote.

Certain female politicians also jumped into the online fray. European Parliament member Corinne Lepage tweeted that “as long as there are no women at the ECB (European Central Bank), we need feminism”.

At least one French actress, comedienne Isabelle Mergault, took issue with Bruni-Sarkozy’s point of view. “We need feminism as long as blokes passing by try to guide women as they parallel park,” she quipped.

A Twitter user with the “handle” @MarineCrnlis used a different example to illustrate her opinion that feminism is still very much necessary in modern French society. “As long as our sons can’t play with dolls, I need feminism!” she wrote.

Before her marriage to then-president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, Bruni was known for her bohemian image and considerably publicised love life (she was said to have dated several rock stars, including Mick Jagger). “Monogamy bores me terribly,” she was reported as telling a journalist in her pre-first-lady days.

Valérie Trierweiler

But Bruni-Sarkozy’s public discourse has shifted over time, as she became the first lady of France and wife of a much-criticised right-wing president.

In an interview published in Elle magazine last month, she had some advice for Valérie Trierweiler, the partner of current French President François Hollande. “I think it’s simpler to be the legitimate wife of the head of state than his partner,” she offered, referring to speculation over whether or not Trierweiler would be received abroad – and regarded at home -- as first lady of France.

That counsel seemed a far cry from the Bruni-Sarkozy of yore.

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