Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dame République, expecting

Shortly after the French Revolution, a girl named Marianno was the heroine of a revolutionary song in the Occitanian language. The song became popular in October 1792, just after the creation of the French Republic, which adopted Marianne as its allegorical incarnation. She is always represented wearing a pointed bonnet, designated as Phrygian (a legendary people of Asia Minor). After the July Revolution of 1830, the painter Eugène Delacroix showed a bare-breasted Marianne on the barricades, with a tricolor held high, leading the people to liberty.

Since then, there have been countless pictorial and sculptural depictions of Marianne. Whereas the Church has been symbolized by the Virgin Mary, and French royalty by Joan of Arc, Marianne has become the official female symbol of the République. Busts of Marianne adorn town halls, administrative offices and schools from one end of France to the other.

Since the Libération of 1944, among the females who have been chosen as models for Marianne, we find Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Laetitia Casta.

Over the last few days, French people have been somewhat surprised to discover Marianne appearing in advertisements for Sarkozy's future state loan:

OK, it's nice to know that France is investing in her future. And we can understand that the République is expecting... massive financial investments. But who in fact got her pregnant? It's rather disturbing to learn that this should happen to a fine young woman whose moral behavior has always been beyond reproach. Most people weren't even aware that she was "frequenting" (as they say in rural France, meaning to go out frequently with a specific male friend). Many folk would be furious to learn that the future father is randy Sarko himself, for example. Maybe one of the old fellows: Giscard, or Chirac...

The most eloquent criticism came from an indignant feminist blogger named Emelire: "The hand of the State should stay away from my uterus, particularly if it's trying to grab some cash!"

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