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Rachida Dati: the mother of all interrogations
Rachida Dati, the French Justice Minister must love being one of a kind : First of all she is a woman holding a top government post, something still embarrassingly rare. Then she is a Minister coming from the Maghrebian immigration wave, muslim and raised in a council flat- something totally new. And yet this does not seem to be enough for the ambitious Minister. Today she announces her pregnancy while she is still in office as Justice Minister without being married or having a known relationship and even without saying who the father is. This has never been seen before!
Gossips around the world are asking the same question : Who is the father? However Rachida Dati is firmly keeping that a secret: “My private life is complicated and I am keeping it off-limits to the media. I will not say anything about it.” What does it mean? Nobody knows. That's why the new game in France could be called: "guess who the father is?".
And the possible contenders are... José Maria Azanar, former Spanish Prime Minister who has already denied it formally, Henri Proglio boss of Veolia Environnement, Dominique Desseigne, chief of the Barrière casino and hotel chain and even the French television show man known as Arthur. The president Sarkosy himself is suspected, just in a whisper of course. However the medias don't dare speak of this burning issue: there won't be any DNA tests nor will there be forced public confessions, as if a journalist's work stops before the bedroom door. Not quite so new! That's why for Renaud Revel, a commentator at France-Inter radio, the silence of the media is not so innocent. He thinks that the journalists knew the truth for a while but no one would or dared say: “The Anglo-Saxon press would have X-rayed Rachida Dati’s pregnancy, to the point of producing the father’s ID papers and his DNA. The French media are kept at a distance. The father has been known to the newsrooms for weeks. But not a line, not a name . . . not the slightest allusion has appeared”. Could or should such a secret be kept for a person in such high public office?
Anyway we have to examine the burning issue in this case behind the gossip: Rachida Dati is actually shattering the traditional image of the single mother. The woman facing motherhood alone is no longer shameful and sad but Rachida Dati looks like she is a proud woman who can assume her pregnancy alone and even chooses not to tell the name of the father. She said that having children was "fundamental" for her as a woman and explained that the birth of her baby will be the "best day of her life". She is claiming that she is pregnant but not ill and that will not impair her political vision. She has remained in her position over the last 6 months and so far so good. What do you think about that? Do you think Rachida Dati is a feministic model or do you find her position morally annoying?
Anyway this image is spread by the medias and pretty welcomed by the French people. Such a step ahead for French feminism! I take a look at opinion polls and Rachida Dati's popularity has even increased! 48per cent of favorable opinions, her highest score! But why? That is quite strange. Even if I have no problem at all with single motherhood, I can't understand why being pregnant and not telling the name of the father could make her more popular... French people are quite bizzare!
Let's draw a parallel between Rachida Dati's and Bristol Palin's cases in order to underline the particularity of France. In fact the two women are in two very different kinds of situation since the pregnancy of the Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter is not welcomed at all. And yet unlike Rachida Dati the father is known : his name is Levi Johnston and they are having a serious relationship since a while. So what's the problem? Maybe their age? Probably but above all the fact that they are not married. Unwed mothers are not popular at all in the US Middle East and its puritan values and even in the whole United States. Even the modern women and feminist heroines of Sex and the City could not change this vision or even resist : the great, independent and cynical lawyer Miranda had to marry the father of her son just in order to calm down the viewers... Could you just imagine something like that in France?
Of course, if Bristol Palin were French it would be easier for her (for who wouldn't it be?) but in fact her case eases Rachida Dati's too. Lets remind ourselves that Rachida Dati's pregnancy is coming out at the same time as the Bristol Palin scandal... and I have to confess that we French people love to show how open-minded we are compared to the American people. Rachida Dati gives us a chance to laugh once again at our prudish anglo-saxon neighbours and she may be loved for that reason. Besides this sharp, ambitious and authoritative woman looks more human now and that, that was not a safe bet at all!
Everything seems to be so perfect for Rachida Dati! Still politically this is quite annoying at least for the Sarkozy administration and I'am still mulling over one question: in concrete terms how will she manage with her pregnancy and her political functions? In practical terms, could such an important woman afford to take one year maternity leave as is now allowed in France and more importantly- should she? This is the main professionnal problem of women who are in charge of important jobs and, unfortunately, the reason why they are sometimes discriminated against. President Sarkozy will have to deal with this, but what is certain is that he definitely had not predicted that his 42 year old single Minister would be pregnant! Bad luck! The spotlight is now on him.