This story made it to a number of major news sources in France: the mayor of Puteaux, a quiet suburb to the west of Paris, is guilty of “provocation” and “gender stereotyping” after giving blue satchels to boys and pink ones to girls at the city’s annual back-to-school event last Saturday. The office of Mayor Joëlle Ceccaldi-Raynaud gave the school bags to 3,900 Kindergarten and primary school children along with stationary.
French feminist websites are awash with angry comments about the “gendered” school bags, which included manuals to make jewelry (for the girls) and robots (for the boys).
Although the cost of the party could be as high as 300,000 euro (nearly 400,000 USD), according to the socialist opposition at the town hall, the anger is mainly about the choice of “only two” colors: “Gender confusion is not allowed” in Puteaux, writes Christophe Gébert, the opposition leader.
Perhaps Mayor Ceccaldi-Raynaud, a member of the Union for a Popular Movement, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, was in fact making a statement, although she says not. Last year’s demonstrations against same-sex “marriage” haven’t been forgotten. Once the law passed the “Manif pour tous” remained active, as gender ideology, gender studies and the hunt for “stereotypes” are becoming more and more pervasive.
Only a few weeks ago, Laurence Rossignol, socialist Secretary of State for Families, wrote a tweet in which she criticized “pretty pretty pink school bags” for girls: “there’s still a lot of work ahead,” she joked.
But this story is more than a joke or a silly political squabble.
Feminists are disparaging the mayor of Puteaux’s “immaturity” and accusing those who like satchels to have a “girlish” color for girls and a “boyish” one for boys of encouraging inequality, “sexism” and keeping girls from developing their talents.
Since the beginning of August, France is under the rule of a new law for “real” equality between women and men, which requires all public acts and spending to avoid gender stereotyping. School programs have included modules against gender stereotypes for many years now; they are expected to grow in importance now that the author of the equality law, Moroccan-born Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, has left her post as Minister for Women’s Rights where she authored the aforesaid law, to become Minister for Education.
Vallaud-Belkacem was also responsible for imposing a controversial “equality” course in schools in several regions of France. The “ABCD of equality” is clearly about promoting interchangeability between girls and boys in the professional world.
The mayor of Puteaux has called the media quarrel a “waste of time.” She told the Figaro that she freely takes responsibility for the distribution of the school bags.