Liberté, égalité, décolleté: Why is this Playboy cover causing such a fuss in France?
The French Secretary of State for Social Economy and Community Life has given Playboy magazine sales quite the boost.
Since the arrival on newsstands of its latest April / June issue with Marlène Schiappa - the feminist author-turned-junior social economy minister - on the cover, the magazine has sold out. Only 3 hours after its release this month, more than 100,000 copies were sold, according to Jean-Christophe Florentin, the magazine's director.
To put that figure into context, Playboy’s usual monthly sales in France are around 30,000 copies.
In light of this success, the magazine has decided to put an additional 60,000 copies on sale on Thursday 20 April in order to satiate demand.
The cover has stirred up quite the controversy in France, as the country is currently in the middle of a controversial pension reform which rhymes with an arduous battle for French President Emmanuel Macron, who is trying to repair the damage done to his public image after forcing the pension plan through parliament last month with the use of Article 49.3.
There were even fake covers circulating of the issue, prominently featuring the number 49.3 on Schiappa’s chest.
Marlène Schiappa, 40, features in the magazine posing in various designer outfits, alongside a 12-page interview on women's rights. In this interview, she defends in particular the right of women to do "exactly what they want".
However, Schiappa has come under strong criticism, including from high ranking government executives.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne described the interview as "not at all appropriate" in the current context of social crisis.
Many members of the opposition, from Sandrine Rousseau to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, criticised the "impression of a smoke screen", labelling the Playboy issue as a stunt to detract from ongoing crises.
For her part, the Minister for Equality between Women and Men, Isabelle Rome, criticised her colleague's choice to appear in Playboy, which is "a compendium of all sexist stereotypes".
"I wonder: why did you choose Playboy to advance women's rights when this magazine is a compendium of all the sexist stereotypes? We are in the midst of the culture of the woman-object," Rome told French newspaper Le Figaro.
Schiappa responded to the criticism on Twitter: "Defending women's right to control their bodies is everywhere and all the time", "In France, women are free. No matter how backward and hypocritical they are".
Some of Schaippa’s colleagues, however, applauded her decision to pose for Playboy.
“I want to say that Marlene Schiappa is a courageous female politician who has character and who has her style which is not mine but which I respect,” said French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.