Royal Flush

June 18, 2006

Hello, MTs! I just got back from a week’s vacation. A week in Northern Wyoming, out of cell phone range, where the only computer around was on the green tortoise dial-up plan.

It would have been too brutal to jump right back into the US news cycle, so my Sunday morning eyes ranged toward articles about movies and dancers and cartoons and French presidential hopefuls instead.

Segolene Royal, 52, is a single mother of four, and she’s poised to run as the presidential candidate for the Socialist Party. The French public thinks she’s la bombe: she enjoys a 68% approval rating. I won’t even pretend to follow French politics, but the article about Segolene was intriguing for a number of reasons. Check this out:

She is also good at crossing social lines.

While she embraces her party’s liberal line on such issues as gay marriage and parenting, she is more reticent in backing other stances such as guaranteed employment. As the former minister of family and social affairs, she spearheaded a fight against violence and sex on TV. Yet she allowed the “morning-after” contraception pill to be distributed in French public schools.

“She represents a sort of synthesis,” Sineau said. “She’s from the left, but she also talks about family values. That pleases people.”

She’s also wired: her website “features an interactive book on subjects as diverse as immigration, genetically modified crops, and education,” and she holds online chat sessions.

Sound familiar? A liberal mom with diverse interests and opinions on political issues, who talks about family values and is active online… Sounds like a MT, yo!

What does the old male guard have to say about Segolene’s rising star?

“Who will look after the children?” asked former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, referring Royal’s four offspring, who range in age from 14 to 22.

Fabius then returned the clothespin to his nose and shuffled off into the twilight of sexism. A poll published by Elle magazine in January found 94 percent of French support the idea of a female president. Sez Mariette Sineau of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris:

“It shows the discrepancy between a feminization of public opinion — which is completely ready to have women invest more in politics, even at the highest levels — and the misogyny of a political class which is completely closed, and composed primarily of men.”