French sexual politics

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Mon Jul 28 06:23:06 MDT 2003


While French opinion polls show largely in favour of the reopening of
brothels, a Paris gallery of erotic memorabillia revisits a time when the
capital's maisons closes drew the likes of the Prince of Wales and won
design awards. On a visiting card printed some time between the two World
Wars, Mademoiselle de Lucez offers "worldly relations at all hours" at her
in the southern city of Nice. As the French come out in support of reopening
the country's once legendary "maisons closes", or authorised brothels, a
show of erogenous memorabilia in Paris harks back to the years when the
bordellos drew the likes of Britain's "Bertie", then Prince of Wales and
soon to become King Edward VII. (...)

Despite the closure of brothels in France, prostitution remained legal for
decades, though pimping was not. But last year, the newly-elected
conservative government moved to outlaw prostitution, as part of a crackdown
against crime in general. Under the new law, prostitution is technically
legal, but soliciting sex by any means, including "dress or posture", has
been outlawed.
Following the moves, a poll this year in France showed nearly two-thirds
favoured the reopening of the old "maisons closes".


Magazine Anniversary

Elle, a French media creation which has become one of the pillars of women's
magazines worldwide, has reached a fresh milestone with the publication of
its 3,000th edition. Christine Pouget reports.  After 58 years of existence
and upon its 3,000th issue, an anniversary edition of Elle, entitled "3,000
weeks in the lives of women", includes a reprint of its first edition in a
mini format. (...)

The magazine was launched in France on November 21 1945, by Hélène
Gordon-Lazareff. On the cover, a woman in a black hat holding a cat in her
arms. Elle's logo, which has unremained unchanged over the decades, was
already in place.
Influenced by a trip to the United States, Gordon-Lazareff insisted on a
colour cover which was unusual at that time in France. The inside pages were
still printed in black and white.

The magazine made waves in France, dealing essentially with women's issues
such as fashion and beauty. "Women were soon going to get the right to vote.
Women wanted to be active and seductive at the end of the war. They wanted
to play a role in society," editor Valérie Toranian said.

The magazine has always upheld its founding principles based on women's
rights, Toranian said, pointing to editions devote to Afghan women and the
Islamic veil. "We defend the issue of equal rights for women, a status that
is in decline in some circles."
But Elle also has broad-based appeal, drawing readers from all generations
and both sexes. One quarter of its readers are men. "We fight for things,
but since the start we have approached men with kindness, intimacy and
dialogue. We are not interested in rivalry or conflict," Toranian said.


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