Friday, June 19, 2009
There's no question who wears the pantalons in the Chirac famille
So Jacques Chirac, former French president and famed ladies man, has been finally busted by his long-suffering spouse, Bernadette.
As widely publicised in the media today, the old Casanova, famed almost as much for his extra-marital romantic liaisons when in office as for his political achievements, was caught out by his wife yesterday during a public engagement in Correze.
Pants-Man Chirac is seen in this YouTube clip to be openly flirting with a younger blonde woman while his wife performs the public speaking duties at the rostrum barely four feet away.
Bernadette's withering look, mid-speech, appears to stun the former Prez back into line, giving perhaps a moment's insight into exactly who wears the pantalons in the Chirac household.
And yet what amazes me - as it has done for the entire ten years I have been living here in France - is the fact that Chirac's infidelity is widely celebrated in France, where infidelity is still practiced as a national sport.
Chirac himself has made no secret of his infidelity, admitting publicly that he has loved "many women" in his life "as discreetly as possible".
And while I would never seek to make a moral judgement on the way people choose to live their lives and the manner in which they choose to conduct their marriages (each to their own, I say), it's nontheless curious to see what some might consider one of the worst French stereotypes (all French men cheat on their wives) being reinforced and celebrated with such nudge-nudge, wink-wink gusto.
My own personal experience is that, as with every country, marriages come in all different shapes and sizes here in France. There's probably no more infidelity here than in any other country in the world. The French just care less about hiding it. And maybe that's healthier. But I can't help but think French women are the losers in all of this. Stoic, long-suffering, but ultimately cheated. My only hope is that Bernadette has been busy with a few extra-marital adventures of her own.