Women Dancing In and Out of Politics
For four solid days, the House Hunters International crew was here filming another episode — this time with a young cabaret dancer named Cara Chapman from New Orleans whose 97 year-old grandmother left her money to make her dream to live in Paris come true. We have much in common, her background and her grandmother who died at the same age as my mother, and she reminds me so much of my own daughter in looks and body. The crew are all people with whom I’ve worked before and that makes it so easy, in spite of the freezing cold weather rendering our toes numb and Cara’s lips quivering.
“Thanks” to a foot injury, Cara spent much of the three days in sandals while I was in over-the-knee boots and several layers of tights to stay warm. Just seeing her bare feet made me feel even colder. We were all amazed at her formidable talents as she danced her way around Paris and in the apartments to test their space. The show promises to be one of their most interesting! No worries — we’ll keep you posted when it finally airs, which will be several months from now.
Meanwhile, as much as I’d love to bury my head in the proverbial sand and ignore politics in today’s world, and just report on the rosier side of life in Paris, it’s tough. If you’re really living here, then it’s very much a part of every day existence, just like baguettes, café crème and French bureaucracy.
Friday morning, National Front leader Marine Le Pen welcomed the press and that set off a wave of articles and commentary. One journalist told me personally that “It’s scary how polished she is. Flawless, direct, her own woman. Everyone was thoroughly impressed and said she could win.”
National news channel France 24 headlined their article with “Far-right leader Le Pen says Trump and Putin’s policies ‘good’ for France.” In the press conference, she “dismissed allegations that Russia was behind cyber-attacks during the US presidential elections, a day after America’s top intelligence official said Moscow aggressively interfered in the campaign.” Oh boy. That’s like denying global warming. She defended Putin and Trump claiming neither would be a threat to France.
Yep, she’s smart and I agree that she’s scary. There’s no sign or logo outside her headquarters on the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré to mark the party. Posters with the slogan “Au Nom du Peuple” hang on the walls, but there’s no sign of her name or of the Front National or her father’s image which represents a “toxic fringe movement” in an attempt to transform it to mainstream. The press were clearly impressed and word has it that even though we may believe a presidential win is unlikely, it’s no longer impossible. Even Christopher Dickey of The Daily Beast opened his article with “Marine Le Pen, 48, who could very possibly be the next president of France, speaks positively but with a certain reserve about U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump.”
And while Marine Le Pen is a woman and I’d love to support a woman in power, I’m not sure this is the kind of power we want. We’re still struggling for equal rights — ever since Adam and Eve (and before if you don’t believe in creationism). It never ends for us and now, in the wake of the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, feminist and human rights associations have organized the “Women’s March on Washington” in Washington, DC from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial — “to demonstrate their disgust with the election of a man who has been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment and assault.”
Many thousands of people, not just women, have signed up to attend in DC, and as well across the globe, others are joining in to show their solidarity. Paris is not to be left out. French feminists have organized a rally here in Paris to protest against the new U.S. president’s sexist ideology, homophobic, xenophobic and racist attitudes he championed throughout his campaign, and the Parisians are planning on being there! They say: “We cannot stay silent when he plans to appoint to the Supreme Court, William Pryor, a judge who considers that abortion is ‘the worst abomination in the history of rights,’ that his Vice President, Mike Pence, promotes an overtly creationist thesis and his principal adviser, Steve Bannon, publishes on his website messages of racism and misogyny?”
These are dangerous signs for all men and women who believe in progress for the entire world. If you are so inclined, join in the Women’s March on Paris (in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt, a tireless advocate of women’s and universal rights) Saturday, January 21st, from 2 p.m. gathering at Place du Trocadero — Paris. (I’ll be there for sure!)
See their Facebook page for more information
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(with Cara Chapman)
P.S. Don’t miss this month’s Après Midi tomorrow when Monique Wells and Tom Reeves of Discover Paris discuss the “African-American Presence in the City of Light.” It promises to be really fun and interesting! Join us!
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