La Grande Feminisme Debate

Article excerpt

Byline: Tunku Varadarajan; With Luke Darby and Jane Teeling


No one in the U.K. expected the report of an official inquiry into press standards to be a breezy read, and Sir Brian Henry Leveson--whose name the report bears--did not disappoint. The judge, by all evidence an earnest, decent man, served up a 2,000-page tome that should have taken several days to plow through. And yet--thanks, no doubt, to the executive summary--political reaction was almost instantaneous, with Prime Minister David Cameron opposing the report and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg embracing it. Although it was not his intention to put Britain's coalition government under strain, this rift between the P.M. and his number two would appear to be the report's most eye-catching achievement. Its main recommendation, the setting up by statute of an independent panel to regulate the press (and also to punish it in case of breaches of prescribed standards), looks unlikely to win a[umlaut]sufficient support in a country that adores its free-wheeling newspapers even more than it reviles them. The British are, ultimately, a pragmatic people wary of regulation. An old Fleet Street sage told this columnist that "the law already exists to penalize phone hacking, bribery, and libel." Warming to the subject, he continued: "The Palladium of a Free Press is the market. The cure is not to buy the rubbish, if you don't like it, and to prosecute like mad if the hacks break the law. It is dangerous and undemocratic to bring back a prefect of the press, as existed under the King Georges."


Hell, as we all know, hath no fury quite like that of women scorned, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is the latest to testify to the ardent truth of that Shakespearean adage. In an interview with French Vogue, the former French first lady remarked somewhat insouciantly that "You don't need to be a feminist in my generation." Why? Because "there are pioneers who paved the way." She added that she was "not at all a militant feminist," but was, in fact, "a bourgeoise." Twitter, sure enough, went indignantly to town, with a feminist group exhorting users to "Express to Carla Bruni why your generation needs feminism," as well as to accompany their displeasure with the hashtag #ChereCarlaBruni (#DearCarlaBruni). …