aside The French Are Fascinated By The First Couple, Mr. And Mrs. Macron

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macron
President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron

We here in the US are thrilled over Emmanuel Macron becoming France’s next president. But now that France has dodged the bullet by electing a centrist candidate instead of someone from the far right who advocated for policies too similar to our US President Donald Trump, the French peoples are onto more interesting topics like the difference in ages between Mr. and Mrs. Macron.

The new President Emmanuel Macron is the husband of a very attractive older woman. Here is the rest of the story…

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macronOn 5/11/17, Susan Chira and Lilia Blaise of the New York Times penned the following article, “France’s First Lady, a Confidante and Coach, May Break the Mold.”

“If France’s president-elect has broken every rule in the political playbook, consider Brigitte Macron, the country’s next first lady.”

“She met her future husband, Emmanuel, when he was 15 and she was his 39-year-old drama teacher, married with three children. She and his parents at first tried to discourage him from pursuing her, and she has said they did not have a “carnal” relationship when he was in high school, but he eventually won her over.”

“By all accounts, she was present at every stage of his political evolution, coaching him on his speeches and public demeanor, and she is the one he turns to for an unsparing critique. He treats her as an equal partner and says she will define her future role.”

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macron“France being France, this unusual couple is already stirring a lively and erudite debate about sexism, ageism, masculinity, contemporary marriage, political stagecraft and what a modern French first lady should actually be.”

“It’s like a breath of fresh air in this country,” said Natacha Henry, a writer on gender issues. “I think he won because he didn’t do any kind of macho performance, and that’s what we need. If she’s done that for him, great.”

“Some women see the Macrons as breaking with a pattern of powerful men adorning themselves with younger women; others say French history is replete with examples of younger men seeking out older women, from Henri II’s affair with Diane de Poitiers in the 16th century on.”

“To some, Mr. Macron, 39, is a welcome antidote to past hyper-masculine French politicians, and he surrounds himself with strong female advisers and models an egalitarian marriage. Others have mocked him as being under the thumb of a mother figure and even accused him of a gay affair, which he was driven to publicly deny.”

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macron“In the days after the election, social media posts went viral criticizing the way the couple have sometimes been portrayed in the press: she as a predatory “cougar” and he as a “boy toy”; Ms. Macron, 64, has been called everything from a grandmother making his tea to a “cagole,” a French term for a bimbo. If the ages were reversed, her defenders pointed out, no one would have blinked an eye.”

“Madame Macron’s age is a feminist issue here,” Ms. Henry said. “I was at the hairdresser’s at a very small town in Orléans the day he was appointed minister of economy, and all the ladies were so happy she was so much older than him. We’re so fed up with these older guys with young actresses.”

“The Macrons both grew up in the northern city of Amiens, Brigitte Macron as the sixth child of a family whose chocolate business was a local institution founded in 1872. She married a banker in 1974 when she was 21, had two daughters and a son, and taught French, Latin and drama in high school.”

Related image“Like many schoolboys, Emmanuel Macron developed a crush on his teacher. Ms. Macron, during an interview she gave in 2016 to Paris Match magazine, described falling in love: “I felt that I was slipping, too,” she said. “I then asked him to go to Paris” to finish his education, and his parents were also eager to separate them.”

While the age of sexual consent in France is 15, it is illegal for teachers to have sex with students under the age of 18; Ms. Macron told the authors of a book about the couple that they did not consummate the relationship while he was in high school. She declined a request for an interview.”

“In a documentary aired this week on French television, she said he had called her every day and had gradually worn down her resistance. “He assured me that he would return,” she told Paris Match. “At the age of 17, Emmanuel told me, ‘Whatever you do, I will marry you.’ Love took everything in its path and led me to divorce.”

“They married in 2007, a year after she formally divorced. A video clip of their wedding shows him thanking her children for accepting him; her daughters were active in his campaign, and the documentary shows him hunting for Easter eggs with his seven step-grandchildren.”

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macron“Candice Nedelec, an author of a book on them, “Les Macron,” said Mr. Macron would emerge backstage from a campaign appearance and reflexively ask, “Where’s Brigitte?”

“Mr. Macron has sometimes come off as wordy, theoretical or hard to follow. Ms. Macron told him bluntly to cut parts of his campaign book because they were too boring, Ms. Nedelec said. The documentary shows Ms. Macron rehearsing a speech with him, telling him that he had not spoken loudly enough.”

“During a presidential campaign, it’s usually the king and his court,” Ms. Nedelec said. “She’s the one who won’t hesitate to tell him the truth.”

“Leah Pisar, an expert in Franco-American relations who worked in the Clinton White House, said Ms. Macron served as his gatekeeper: “You want to get to him, you go through her.”

“But Marlène Schiappa, a campaign adviser on gender issues, and others who know the couple warn against painting her as a Pygmalion figure.”

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macron“They say that he frames policy and that she is more of a sounding board, contributing only on issues she knows well, including education, culture and women’s rights. Ms. Nedelec said Ms. Macron had urged her husband to include proposals for smaller classes for students in disadvantaged areas.”

“She and one of her daughters pushed him to help advance women in politics; he has pledged that half the candidates his party will field in the coming legislative elections will be women and that he will appoint many to his cabinet.”

“Some of these may be issues that Ms. Macron takes up as first lady, a role that is undefined in France and has no government-paid staff — and polls show the French public wants to keep it that way, said Robert Schneider, who wrote a book about first ladies in France.”

Image result for photos of emmanuel and brigitte macron“Ms. Nedelec said that she had spoken with Ms. Macron a few days ago and that Ms. Macron was thinking about Michelle Obama as a model. “Brigitte said she knows it was her husband who was elected and not her,” Ms. Nedelec said.”

“Yet in a television interview after he made it to the presidential runoff, her husband made it clear that she was not vanishing: “She will have a say in what she wants to be. She will have a presence, a voice, a look. She will have it privately by my side as she always has, but she will have a public role because that’s how it goes.”

“The role of first lady evolved as women in French society evolved,” Mr. Schneider said. “We went from de Gaulle’s wife, who was very submissive, taking care of the children, very discreet — it corresponded to a bourgeois French family. Then with Carla Bruni and Valérie Trierweiler, we came to modern women who take their place, and that will be accepted.”

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