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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Influential French Women: Eva Joly

In Biography, Politics on December 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I have already discussed on this blog why Eva Joly is the most women’s-rights-friendly candidate on the ballot for the French 2012 presidential elections. So, let me present you with a short bio of the woman who could become France’s president in 2012.

Short Biography

Joly was born in Oslo, Norway in 1948 with dual French-Norwegian nationality. Joly moved to Paris when she was 20 to work as an au pair. She then went on to marry the son of the Joly family who employed her. Joly worked to support her husband through medical school, but eventually studied herself and became a magistrate aged 38.

Joly is best known for her 8 year investigation into corruption in the well-known multinational oil company Elf in the 1990s. She received death threats and continued her investigation despite the risks to her safety.

Today Joly is the Presidential candidate for the Europe, écologie et les verts (l’EELV). In her election campaign Joly presents a ‘green’ economy as the “the only way to get out of the [financial] crisis” (seul chemin pour sortir de la crise”.)

Media Coverage of Joly

Unsurprisingly, the left-wing press widely report developments in Joly’s presidential campaign and the green cause. In the wider press, however, Joly is not so well received. For example in the more right-wing press such as Le Figaro, her dual nationality is a point of contention. The question is always if Joly is French enough to be running for president. In an article from July this year Joly states, “I am French by choice and conviction” (Je suis française par choix et par conviction). Her accent has also raised questions of the legitimacy of her presidential candidacy. Joly reacted to this in a video which celebrates the diversity of the French accent and the proud patriotic reasons why immigrants choose to live in France.

Why should you know about her?

She best represents the feminist interest in the French Presidential elections and she is an accomplished magistrate who has fought for her beliefs throughout her career. Furthermore, Joly could not only be the next President, but the first female President in French history.

For more information see the video for yourself here (very much worth a watch if you understand French), Joly’s official biography here (French) and a recent Guardian interview here

 

Influential French Women: Christine Lagarde

In Biography, Politics on December 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Christine Lagarde. Photo from Eric Boman for Vogue: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/christine-lagarde-changing-of-the-guard/

Short Biography

The role for which Christine Lagarde is best known globally is as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). When Lagarde took up the post in June 2011, she also became the fund’s first female Managing Director.

Born in Paris in 1956, Lagarde attended University and in 1981 became a barrister in Paris. Lagarde then progressed through the hierarchy of the Baker & McKenzie law firm and in 2004 became their Chairman of Global Strategy.

Her political career began in 2005 as Minister for commerce and industry and was then, in 2007, moved to a position as Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, both under Prime Minister François Fillon’s government. In June of 2007 she was made Minister of Finance, another first for a woman. Chrstine was a minister as part of the centre-right UMP party, the same party as the current French President, Nicholas Sarkozy.

Media Coverage of LaGarde

As MD of the IMF, Lagarde has attracted a lot of media attention, not only for her high-profile position, but also because of her “glamour” and “sexiness“. Vogue did a piece on Lagarde which complimented her on her good fashion sense and the combination of femininity and competence that the media often finds so novel in a woman. The Gaurdian produced a piece in a similar vein entitled: “Is the world’s sexist woman? (And the most powerful?)”. The article congratulates Lagarde on “being keen on feminine virtues, then, without being po-faced”. Both of these articles highlight the media’s obsession with links between sexuality, femininity and powerful women.

Fortunately, there was coverage of Lagarde’s appointment to act as counter-balances to the over-analysis of her feminine virtues and “sexiness”. The Economist presented the launch of Lagarde’s bid without even a mere mention of her  Hermès handbag.

Why should you know about her?

Lagarde’s appointment was a momentous victory for feminists and all those frustrated by the unequal representation of women in powerful positions. She has proved, just like Angela Merkel, that it is possible to be a woman in a high profile position without every single article in the media commenting on her appearance. Oh, and I’ve heard she owns a great handbag…

For more information on Christine Lagarde see her government biography here (French): http://www.minefe.gouv.fr/ministere_finances/lagarde.htm and her official IMF bio here (English): http://www.imf.org/external/np/omd/bios/cl.htm 

30,000 Faulty Breast Implants and the French ‘Bimbo’ Myth

In Health, Society on December 17, 2011 at 10:29 am

A PIP Prosthesis. Image from L'Express.

On Wednesday it was widely reported that eight cases of cancer had been linked to a faulty breast implant scandal that has seen 30,000 French women affected. However, the cancer cases and the faulty implants have no proven medical connection. The faulty implants were made of industrial grade silicone, which is used in the electronics industry, rather than the medical grade silicone which is normally used in cosmetic surgery.

The scandal sparked protests in Paris on Wednesday, in front of the Ministry of Health. The protest also highlighted the long-standing presumption in France that women who have breast augmentations are “bimbos”. An article in L’Express, entitled “PIP prostheses: ordinary women, not bimbos” (Prothèse PIP: des femmes ordinaires, pas de bimbos), comments on the absence of blonde women in the crowd of protesters. It’s hard to tell if this reference is ironic or not. The article also tells us that “They have all undertaken surgery for aesthetic reasons.” (Toutes ont réalisé l’intervention chirurgicale pour des raisons esthétiques), a blanket statement which does little to dispel the “bimbo” myth.

The Guardian interviews an anonymous protester who had a breast augmentation because she “suffered from depression and mental-health problems linked to body image”. This is a refreshing angle on the coverage, which, so far in the French media, hasn’t properly looked at the profiles of the women who are affected. Despite L’Express’s rather feeble attempt to balance the common, rather patronizing, media image of women who have plastic surgery for purely cosmetic reasons, the French press fails to investigate the reasons why women undertake cosmetic surgery.

For more information see the Guardian article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/14/france-faulty-breast-implant-scandal and L’Express article here (French): http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/prothese-pip-des-femmes-ordinaires-pas-des-bimbos_1062080.html