French minister criticised over Playboy photo shoot

French politician Marlene Schiappa has a history of standing up for women's rights.

French politician Marlene Schiappa has a history of standing up for women's rights. Photo: Getty

A French government minister has retorted that “women are free” after her decision to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine sparked outrage.

Marlène Schiappa, minister for the social economy, is fully clothed as she strikes a pose for the April edition to be released in France.

The shoot will be accompanied by a 12-page interview on women’s and gay rights, and abortion.

Ms Schiappa’s colleagues and opponents slammed her decision and its timing.

The country’s second-highest-ranking female politician, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, said the shoot “was not at all appropriate, especially in the current period.”

Tensions have been high in France amid a series of violent protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

Greens MP and women’s rights activist Sandrine Rousseu said the timing was off.

“Women’s bodies should be able to be exposed anywhere, I don’t have a problem with that, but there’s a social context,” said Ms Rousseu.

Ms Schiappa, who was a feminist author before entering politics, took to Twitter to state she was standing up for women.

“Defending the right of women to do what they want with their bodies: everywhere and all the time. In France, women are free,” she posted.

“Whether it annoys the retrogrades and hypocrites or not.”

Ms Sciappa has stood up for female issues in the past.

The BBC reports that while serving as equalities minister in 2018, she brought in legislation outlawing catcalling and street harassment.

The editor of the French-language edition of Playboy backed Ms Schiappa and said she was the most “Playboy compatible” of the government ministers due to her support of women.

French politician Jean Luc Mélenchon criticised Ms Schiappa and also Mr Macron’s decision to give an interview to children’s magazine, Pif Gadget this week.

“In a country where the President expresses himself in Pif and his minister in Playboy, the problem would be the opposition. France is going off the rails,” Mr Mélenchon tweeted.

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