French weekly magazines review 3 September 2017

French weekly magazines
French weekly magazines DR

This week’s French magazines bring us an exclusive interview of President Emmanuel Macron as he attempts to halt his fall in opinion polls. You can also read about sexual emancipation in the Muslim world and the dangerous liaisons between politicians and the media.

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If you haven’t heard enough about the French president in the last three months, Le Point has just what you need, an exclusive, 20-page interview with the Golden Boy Himself.

So what does it reveal about the French President that we didn’t know already?

  1.  He’s a lot more “modern” than his opponents: He makes that clear in the opening pages, where he has a go at the “the forces of the old world” and the “old politicians” who, he says, are out to undermine him.
  2. He’s an optimist: In the words of the great Mariah Carey, “There can be miracles, when you believe”. Macron doesn’t actually quote the 1990s diva, he could have, as he points to his own election as proof that anything is possible.
  3. He knows some very big words. He says the economy is undergoing a “Copernican revolution” and that the world is increasingly “Schumpeterian”, which apparently means that we need to unleash a process of “creative destruction”.
  4. He doesn’t see his role on the international scene as particularly “cool”: As he puts it, he has to talk to Turkey’s authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan every 10 days.
  5. He and his wife have just adopted a labrador called Nemo: Macron might not have struck you as much of a dog person, but one golden rule in PR is that a friendly pup can do wonders.There’s a picture in Le Point of Emmanuel strolling through the Elysée palace with his furry friend.They do look very endearing.

A writer’s take on sex and Islam

Now that we’ve a taken our weekly dose of Macronmania, we can turn to a much less covered topic, with L’Obs.

“Women, sex, and Islam,” reads its main headline.

The magazine is featuring an interview of the writer Leïla Slimani, who won France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, last year.

In L’Obs she discusses her new book, Sex and lies, an essay on young Moroccans' sex lives.

Slimani criticises articles 489 and 490 of Morocco’s penal code, which ban homosexual relations as well as sex outside of wedlock.

The second is especially hypocritical, she says, since the average age of marriage is 28 in Morocco and few people want to remain virgins until then.

More often than not the law is used by people to settle scores, by denouncing their neighbours, or to shame victims of rape.

She also tells the moving story of women who decide to emancipate themselves from conservative norms, only to regret their behaviour later, when gossip prevents them from staying in their own neighborhood or getting married.

“When women’s emancipation is neither supported by the state nor the surrounding culture,” she says, “it has no real foundation.”

Men also suffer from these strict religious taboos, she says, as they too want to live life to the full.

But without money or a job, they cling to the idea of a virtuous, virgin bride as a source of honour.

Politics and the media: a dangerous affair

Marianne is dedicating a series of articles to what it sees as a worrying intermarriage between politics and journalism.

On the one hand, we're seeing politicians becoming media pundits and signing opinion columns.

Take the former Socialist MP Julien Dray, for example, who now works for the news channel LCI, or Nicolas Sarkozy's former minister, Roselyne Bachelot, who presents her own talk show, also on LCI.

TV channels are fast becoming retirement homes for defeated politicians, according to Marianne.

But cross-overs are also common in the opposite direction, as journalists give in to the temptation of money and power – like Emmanuel Macron's new spokesperson, Bruno Roger-Petit, a former journalist at the financial magazine Challenges.

In its editorial, Marianne denounces a "cultural, social and even emotional promiscuity" between the two professions.

"Because they're from the same backgrounds and went to the same schools, journalists and politicians end up serving each other.”

The magazine also has a word of warning. This "inbreeding", it says, is bad for both journalism and politics, as it forms a bubble which is disconnected from the rest of the population.

That's why both professions are now equally distrusted and dragging each other down to the bottom of people's esteem.

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