Ottawa Citizen

Frigide Bar­jot puts no­to­ri­ety to work

She’s loud, provoca­tive and a master of one-lin­ers. She’s also lead­ing a sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive cam­paigner for same-sex mar­riage and adop­tion. ADAM SAGE ex­plains.

- Frigide Barjot · Paris · Iceland · Belarus · Belgium · Austria · God · François Hollande

PARIS

Awoman in a pink miniskirt and black leg­gings hur­tles down the side­walk in cen­tral Paris on a mo­tor scooter, honk­ing loudly. Heads turn and passersby won­der just what sort of per­son could up­set their morn­ing stroll with such a show.

They are star­tled to dis­cover, when she re­moves her hel­met to re­veal a shock of blond hair, that she is a fig­ure­head of French con­ser­vatism.

Vir­ginie Merle, 50, has emerged as the un­likely leader of a cam­paign against Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande’s plan to au­tho­rize same-sex cou­ples to marry and adopt chil­dren. It has put his government on the de­fen­sive, split French so­ci­ety and turned her into a house­hold name.

She is known by the name Frigide Bar­jot — which trans­lates roughly as Frigid Nut­ter — that she uses in her pub­lic ap­pear­ances on ra­dio and tele­vi­sion.

Frigide, as she is al­ways called, is ev­ery­thing you would ex­pect a pro­po­nent of ortho­dox fam­ily life not to be — loud, provoca­tive and bling. With her stri­dent opin­ions, flash­ing smile and repar­tee of one-line jokes, she is what tele­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tives call a good cus­tomer. She said: “I have de­cided to put (my) no­to­ri­ety at the ser­vice of a cause I be­lieve in.”

The success of her move­ment, La Manif Pour Tous (A Protest for All) — in ref­er­ence to Mar­riage for All, the ti­tle of the government’s leg­is­la­tion — has caught ev­ery­one by sur­prise, most notably Hol­lande. Her cam­paign is plan­ning a march next month in Paris that is likely to draw hun­dreds of thou­sands.

She said: “What we are talk­ing about here is a new cat­e­gory of hu­man be­ings cre­ated by a leg­is­la­tion that will run counter to the laws of bi­ol­ogy.

“Chil­dren will no longer be equal. Some will have a mother and fa­ther. Oth­ers will have birth cer­tifi­cates which say they were born to Roger and Bernard or some­thing like that.”

Frigide first be­came known as an au­thor of hu­mor­ous books such as Con­fes­sions of a Trendy Catholic that con­veyed a se­ri­ous mes­sage on fam­ily val­ues, and be­came a reg­u­lar on ra­dio and TV pro­grams such as Les Grandes Gueules (The Fat Gobs). The left­wing news­pa­per Lib­er­a­tion de­scribed her as “God’s nut­case.”

Frigide said that her involvemen­t in the cam­paign against same-sex mar­riage stemmed from a be­lief in the im­por­tance of rais­ing chil­dren in tra­di­tional fam­i­lies.

“I suf­fered when my fa­ther left my mother,” she said. “Now the state is try­ing to or­ga­nize the sep­a­ra­tion of moth­ers and fa­thers and I don’t want chil­dren to go through the same thing I went through.”

The leg­is­la­tion, she said, would en­cour­age the use of sur­ro­gate moth­ers by ho­mo­sex­u­als want­ing chil­dren.

 ?? FRAN­COIS GUILLOT/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES ?? French Catholic hu­morist against same-sex mar­riage Frigide Bar­jot poses ear­lier this month at her home in Paris. France’s So­cial­ist government on Nov. 7 adopted a draft law to au­tho­rize gay mar­riage and adop­tion de­spite fierce op­po­si­tion from the Ro­man...
FRAN­COIS GUILLOT/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES French Catholic hu­morist against same-sex mar­riage Frigide Bar­jot poses ear­lier this month at her home in Paris. France’s So­cial­ist government on Nov. 7 adopted a draft law to au­tho­rize gay mar­riage and adop­tion de­spite fierce op­po­si­tion from the Ro­man...

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