Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Naked breasts are more French than the veil, says Prime Minister

burkini-bikini-france-2.jpg

The highest court in France recently ruled that the controversial burkini ban could not be enforced, stating that doing so would violate “the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom”.

But if you thought that meant the debate over what women can wear to the beach was over, you were sorely mistaken. One man is determined to keep the burkini row rumbling on and on: the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls.

In a fiery speech at a rally on Monday night, Valls argued that the veil worn by Muslim women contradicts French national values, stating that the naked breasts of Marianne – a national symbol of the French Republic, adopted during the French Revolution – represent freedom.

“Marianne has a naked breast because she is feeding the people! She is not veiled, because she is free!” Valls reportedly told supporters. “That is the Republic!”

manuel-valls

Manuel Valls, France's Socialist PM, has been an outspoken advocate of the burkini ban.

His comments reignited debate about the burkini ban online.

Left-wing French historian Mathilde Larrere tweeted: “Marianne has a bare breast because it’s an allegory, you cretin!”

She added: “Marianne in the nude was an allegory of the 19th century, when the Civil Code reduced women to the status of minors and barred them from voting.”

Larrere also pointed out that artistic depictions of Marianne have not always shown her bare-breasted. Often, rather, she is shown wearing a Phrygian cap – a head covering symbolising freedom and the pursuit of liberty, thanks to its resemblance to caps worn by emancipated slaves in ancient Rome. 

Other Twitter users observed that today, Marianne would be just as likely to be arrested for public indecency as a woman wearing a burkini.

Marianne-republic-bare-breast-freedom

A bust of Marianne displayed in the corridors of the Luxembourg Palace, the seat of the French Senate, showing her wearing a Phrygian cap.

Valls has been a high-profile supporter of the burkini ban, introduced by around 30 French mayors under the pretext of protecting the country against further terror attacks.

“For me the burkini is a symbol of the enslavement of women,” he said in an interview in August, adding that France was locked in a “battle of cultures”.

He had previously told reporters that he viewed the burkini as “the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”


Read more: Burkini inventor pens powerful essay on French ban


However, Cécile Duflot, a former Green party minister in France, said that Valls’ praise of Marianne’s bare breasts was indicative of the way some French male politicians viewed women.

Most of the burkini restrictions were enforced in the southeast of France, an area home to a high proportion of immigrants and where far-right politics have gained a firm foothold. Despite the higher courts’ ruling against the burkini ban, some mayors have said that they still plan on enforcing the rule.

Images: Getty, Wikimedia Commons

Related

GettyImages-89756610.jpg

Highest court in France suspends burkini ban

burkini 1.jpg

British retailer launches burkini range for Muslim women

burkini.jpg

Burkini designer pens powerful essay on French ban

the-doll-beauty.jpg

French beauty blogger speaks out against Nice terror attack

nick alexander bataclan.jpg

Woman tells how “love of her life” died in her arms in Paris attack

adele terror.jpg

Adele pays tribute to Brussels terror victims at London concert

More

Instagram project reminds us to stay outraged over sexual harassment

It may happen every day, but that doesn’t mean we should put up with it

by Megan Murray
28 Jul 2017

3 signs that you're suffering from stress-induced burnout

And how to handle and prevent them

by Jasmine Andersson
28 Jul 2017

Sexist Facebook page shames women for one-night stands in Magaluf

Pictures and videos are posted of women deemed to be on the ‘walk of shame’

by Amy Swales
28 Jul 2017

These are 12 funniest words in the English language

A new study reveals the words that make us laugh the most - and they’re deliciously juvenile

by Moya Crockett
28 Jul 2017

Will you be watching Make or Break?

Could Channel 5's offering be better than the original?

by Jasmine Andersson
28 Jul 2017

Little ways we're cheating on our partners, according to Reddit

What do you count as cheating?

by Megan Murray
28 Jul 2017

This gin is one of the best in the world – and costs under £10

It keeps topping the polls in industry taste tests, but leaves you change from a tenner

by Amy Swales
27 Jul 2017

30-year-old pilot becomes youngest ever woman to captain a Boeing 777

And she's shared her best career advice

by Sarah Biddlecombe
27 Jul 2017

Research says that half the atoms in our body come from another galaxy

You are a celestial being and should be treated as such

by Jasmine Andersson
27 Jul 2017

Five steps to the perfect G& T

It's time to nail gin 'o clock like a pro

by Stylist
27 Jul 2017