Monday 18 December 2017

Mary Kenny: Valérie Trierweiler proves that being a partner is still inferior to being a spouse

Valérie Trierweiler proves that being a partner is still inferior to being a spouse

FRENCH DRESSING: First Lady Valerie Trierweiler and actress Julie Gayet are in an
alleged love triangle
FRENCH DRESSING: First Lady Valerie Trierweiler and actress Julie Gayet are in an alleged love triangle
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Valérie Trierweiler was, until this month, the poster-girl for partners, as opposed to boring old wives. Valérie demonstrated, with savoir-faire and sang-froid, not to mention amour-propre (yeah, she had know-how, cool and self-worth) that there was absolutely no need to be married to the Head of State in order to occupy the position of First Lady. She was President Francois Hollande's partner, not his wife.

With poise and confidence, she brushed aside enquiries (usually from the Anglophone press) about any plans to marry the President. "Marriage," she said, "is a right, but it is not an obligation." Until recently, France was quite a patriarchal society and upheld the salic law, which favoured males over females in customs of inheritance: so Valérie's triumph in ascending to the position of First Partner, on her own terms, was quite a triumph for feminism.

She showed that women could choose to do things their way. She also affirmed her entitlement to continue working as a journalist for 'Paris Match' while occupying an apartment, and commanding a staff, at the Elysee Palace (piquantly, originally acquired for the French state by Louis XV for that most tastefully decorous of mistresses, Madame de Pompadour: she had great taste in art, even if she did hasten the French Revolution).

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