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Women Unite! Swim in Whatever You Like (or Not)!

Paris Weather August 2016Paris Weather August 2016

Swimming in a Burkini, Photo by ReutersSwimming in a Burkini, Photo by Reuters

 Photo Source New York Times -- Armed police officers forced a woman to remove her shirt on a beach in Nice, France, on Tuesday after a ban on burkinis went into effect. Credit BestImage Photo Source New York Times — Armed police officers forced a woman to remove her shirt on a beach in Nice, France, on Tuesday after a ban on burkinis went into effect. Credit BestImage

Photo Source New York Times -- A police officer issuing a woman a ticket for wearing a bikini on a beach at Rimini, Italy, in 1957. Credit Ullstein Bild, via Akg-Images Photo Source New York Times — A police officer issuing a woman a ticket for wearing a bikini on a beach at Rimini, Italy, in 1957. Credit Ullstein Bild, via Akg-Images

Locks are Still Cropping Up...SadlyLocks are Still Cropping Up…Sadly

The Coolest Spot in Paris: La Fontaine MédecisThe Coolest Spot in Paris: La Fontaine Médecis

Locks are Still Cropping Up...SadlyLocks are Still Cropping Up…across from Paris Plage

Sunbathing and Swimming in the Seine in 1952Sunbathing and Swimming in the Seine in 1952

I bought one of the last fans left at the BHV so that three would be blasting on me at one time instead of “just” two. Paris was sweltering compared to Nice when I arrived back on Thursday with record highs falling on that very day of a whopping 97 degrees fahrenheit. With no “clime” (AC) in the apartment, it was downright unbearable.

Patty Sadauskas recommended freezing a plastic bottle of water and going to bed with it like one might with a hot water bottle in winter…and yes, it does cool the sheets down, but it melts quickly and you risk sleeping in wet sheets. The only escape was the frozen food aisle in the grocery stores, because even the air-conditioned buildings were having a hard time keeping up with this kind of heat. The good news is that by Sunday, it was cooler and absolutely heavenly. I might already be able to put the new fan away till next year — and let’s hope I actually DON’T get my money’s worth this time around.

The heat must have gotten to the heads of the politicians, as it has certainly gotten to me, too, because I’m hot under the proverbial collar about the burkini controversy. Maybe you haven’t followed it as closely as we have here in France, but it’s made big news, particularly since about 30 city mayors and other officials, such as presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, seriously want to uphold the burkini ban even after the courts overturned it — it said that for a ban to be considered, the clothing would have to be a verifiable threat to public order. In the ban ruling, burkinis were not mentioned by name, but implied by saying “beachwear must be respectful of good public manners and the principle of secularism.” Manual Valls wrote on Facebook in support of the bans, saying burkinis were “the affirmation of political Islam in the public space.”

I have a whole lot more to say about this than there is space in this Nouvellettre® and decided not to bore you with my anger and enigmatic pondering of such questions as: What do they call a nun’s habit? Isn’t that an affirmation of Catholicism in the public space? Why does he add the word “political” to his description? Isn’t that his own reality and not the reality of the woman who is wearing it? Are they so clueless that they cannot see how their own fear, prejudice and desire to control women is going to worsen the situation, not improve it?

No offense guys, but let’s face it. Men want control over women. Whether it’s in one religion or another, in the work place, at home and just about anywhere, men want control over women and the burkini ban by the right-wing French is no different than the enforcement of the burkini by their Muslim husbands, religion and culture. This is such an obvious case of civil rights, it’s not even funny. Those who think that banning an article of clothing is going to help stop terrorist activity is one of those sad jokes that will surely backfire on us all.

BTW, Since the burkini controversy here in France, sales of burkinis have had a big boost among non-Muslim women! Okay, I’ll stop my tirade now.

If it interests you, have a read of the article in Vox — “France’s debate over the burkini ban, explained” to learn how and why this came about and how it isn’t going to help, but acerbate the situation. Another really great article to read is by Hugh Schofield of the BBC.

Yesterday, the day was so beautiful that my niece and I walked for hours to take in the city’s beauty. On the Pont Saint-Louis, a small crop of locks have sprung up, much to our dismay (we support the No Love Locks campaign) and in other little spots one might not be expect. At the Jardin du Luxembourg, the ducks were swimming (topless without burkinis or bikinis) on the pond of the Fontaine Médicis, the coolest spot in the city.

Fortunately Paris Plage is still open with sandy beaches or grass till September 4th from the Pont des Arts to Pont Sully and people were there wearing whatever made them comfortable. The Seine became a swimming scene as it was made legal at the Bassin de la Villette in order to defy the myths about the quality of the water.

There was swimming in the Seine the year I was born (1952) and the women wore bikinis and one-piece suits. Here’s a video to prove it.

So, if you have a chance to go to Paris Plage before the season is over, wear your bikini or burkini, your one-piece or go topless — whichever you choose — and dare the authorities to tell you which is unacceptable or acceptable.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - swimming

Adrian Leeds
Adrian Leeds Group

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P.S. Reminder: Two Writing From the Heart workshops are coming up sponsored by the Essoyes School in Champagne — September 18th and October 2nd. Book now before it’s too late: Visit Essoyes School or email [email protected]

P.P.S. I will be in New York City in September and am welcoming personal consultations September 21st through 24th on the subjects of working, living and investing in France. This for the special price of $330 for up to two hours (normally 330€, a $42 savings!) If you are interested, please email me at [email protected]


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