Brigitte Macron, the real First Lady of France

After Donald Trump had won the U.S. presidential elections in 2016, the world focused on France and their bet went to the right wing candidate Marine Le Pen and her 44-year-old party, the National Front. Not many people gave one single thought to a newly founded party; not even a year old at the time; and its 39 year-old founder Emmanuel Macron. What could be the chances of this man’s victory anyway? Well by now we know that tides turn and Macron beat Le Pen. How many of us wondered how he did it and who is behind him? I did. Meanwhile an unbelievable love story emerged, so incredible that many do not buy into it even now.

Emmanuel Macron’s wife, Brigitte Trogneux, used to be his high school French and Latin teacher and their relationship started when he reached legal age. They married ten years ago. She is his most critical coach, and I am certain, they together come as a package deal and give the recipe for his success. I was not surprised that one of the first things in his agenda was to give his wife the official status of France’s First Lady with an appropriate role for her in his administration. It was stopped however by a petition with 300,000 signatures.

Besides her role in France’s politics, the biggest issue is her age and the way she expresses herself. This is however beyond French fashionista enthusiasm.

It is downright demeaning the way she is expected to be a traditional woman, acting and dressing her age. And all that is happening in France in 2017.

Brigitte Macron

I am utterly disappointed in the reactions of so many people in France. I have to admit, I only know them from my studies, books and videos, I have never actually visited them. But if I had been asked in the past, which country I admired the most, the answer would have been France, the lady of Liberty. Not the uptight UK, or the seriously perfectionist Germany, and definitely not any country from the Eastern region. I have always wanted to be a part of a community where I am equal, free and truly belong so all my life I was consciously aiming to be the best person I could be regardless of my gender, my family history or their status in society.

Liberté égalité fraternité! Does it sound like France? Where an illiterate farm girl Joan of Arc with the voice of God in her head influenced the nobleman in command and dared to lead the army successfully just by carrying her banner in battle? The country, where women don’t get fat, have sense of style and they don’t judge by skin colour or sexual orientation alone?

Despite all that, here they are showing their real faces. When women and society have so much to fight for and so much to gain by having Brigitte Macron as an equal partner to their elected president, they are still obsessed by hemlines and gossip.

Oh yes, I realize, it is all manipulated from above. Panem et circenses (Bread and Circus), as their latin ancestors advised and Americans applied and perfected (as Hamburger and Entertainment).  In the 21st century France, let them talk about hemlines, age gaps and traditional roles.

France is the country where women still have to fight for their égalité, as they are underrepresented in government, getting less pay at work; so gender inequality is spread all over the map. Then comes Brigitte Macron to show them what a real woman should be like in the 21st century, free from traditional expectations, religious limitations, political control  and shamelessly holding her head up to have her real self shine to the world all to see. Here is your third-millennium heroine! Didn’t you hear that 60 is the new 40? There is no age gap there! Haven’t you always wanted to be different than your old folks, fighting for sexual freedom, wearing unisex clothing and having the same hairstyle? Don’t you want to live to 100, fit and healthy? There is someone showing a real life example to the world and proves that the hundreds of years of gender revolution can be won finally, you instantly take the opposite side. Shame on you France, shame on you, World.

You get excited easily, then impatient, so you ruin the chance of a progressive step forward. Even if it is not 100 % all good, the lesson learnt would be even more valuable for future development. No, you are not risking your mediocre lifestyle of today with all the good, bad, and the ugly, you only want what you already got used to. Passionate patriots, paternalistic politicians, charming and soap opera style aristocrats with some controversy, nationalistic bureaucrats that keep the gossip columns full for their term.

So no active la première dame for you.  You admire the one smiling 24 hours, representing in charity events, holding orphan babies and kissing soldiers’ wives. She should not be a part of the solution to actually change these people’s lives for the better without them feeling inferior. No, you still need Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, Melania Trump, or the puppet wives of the East?

You, French, have a president that brings new or not so new ideals into everyday reality. This time it is not about his policies and politics. It is about personal freedom in personal life, the way to express their unique personalities and characteristics, exactly how we all want to be respected for our own choices.

Despite the criticism, Brigitte Macron is a true teacher now educating a whole country and the world. If it is ok to have a husband 25 years older, then why not have the wife older? The traditional older husband brings status and money to the marriage, the mature wife can bring real experience and support. So what does a highly motivated politician need as a president at the age of 39? Does he need to be a traditional guy, part of a sandwich generation who tirelessly care for growing children, not to miss years of important events in their lives and at the same time support his parents and prepare for his own retirement, or devote fully his active years to his country giving his best and at that he doubles the effort by being part of a package deal.

Brigitte Macron is my ideal and should be ours as women. Besides showing her beautiful strong legs, she has already demonstrated that her creative intelligent mind works remarkably. She is volunteering her part because some predecessors already damaged the system by hiring family members in name only. So do not hire her on regular salary. Regard her as a contractor and pay her for work rendered, what she has already accomplished. France already owes her 6 months back pay and even more in recognition.

She is the First Lady of France whether they like it, appreciate it, or see the importance of it.

After Sarkozy’s show-case wife, François Hollande’s mistress, she is closing the gender gap and standing up for us, women, French, English, Canadian, and Arab alike.

You go Brigitte! We are behind you! We all want to be like you, look like you at the age of 64, wearing short skirts at 84, because we are not prepared to die until 104.

And as for me, France is out, I can still idealize the Norwegians.

Judit Petényi

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