While many have been celebrating the next French President Emmanuel Macron, media outlets have been too focused on the private life of Macron ever since the presidential campaign.
Macron, 39, has become the new president of the Republic of France after a decisive win on Sunday over his rival Marine Le Pen. However, the spotlight shined over Brigette Trogneux, Macron’s wife who is 64 years old after he had won the first round.
Although not particularly negatively viewed by the media, their relationship was depicted as unique and unusual.
Macron asserted several times that he can only govern when he is happy, and his definition of happiness is having Brigette by his side. Now that she has become the first lady of France, Brigette will assume a powerful role according to Macron’s aides.
Emmanuel Macron and the Modern Family- The New Yorker/ May 5, 2017
While media outlets were significantly attentive at viewing Macron’s plan to France’s economic and social future prior to his winning of the first round, the media approach had notably changed before the runoff. The focus on Macron and Brigette was high, whereas the focus on Le Pen’s private life stayed relatively away from the spotlight.
“The couple was spotted hand-in-hand in all public sightings on voting day.” The Independent/ April 24, 2017
The uncanny interest of several media outlets in the age gap between Macron and Brigette would have been ‘slightly’ rational if the same was applied to the US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania.
Trump is 70, while Melania is 47 years old. However, no one bats an eye to the age gap between them. If noted, they don’t say anything or they “claim” that Melania was originally searching for a “Sugar Daddy” and wasn’t ready to sign up for the role of the US first lady.
Donald and Melania Never Spent the Night Together- Life and Style Mag / 23 March 2017
Melania Trump “Miserable” as first lady – “This Life wasn’t Her Dream”- Life and Style Mag/ Feb. 15, 2017
The general attitude towards the two relationships unfolds a rather sexist view on the age difference in marriage. Media attempted to convey an implied message that when a young man marries an older woman, hence he is progressive and not really invested in what people think. However, when a young woman marries an older man, then she is searching for a “Sugar Daddy” and waiting for someone to lavish money on her.
“Melania Trump never exactly warmed up to the role of campaign spouse. She’s been reluctant, reticent at best, and really mostly absent from the trail for much of the last 16 months. And why not? The third Mrs. Trump liked her semi-private life as the wife of a New York real-estate billionaire turned reality star. She flitted around from one gala to another and split her days between the Trumps’ gilded Fifth Avenue penthouse and country home, or flew on private planes to Palm Beach.” Vanity Fair/ Oct. 14, 2014
Besides the fact that they are called “Private Lives” and should stay private, as long as the media decided to touch upon them, hence they should be equally treated. Not only do the media constantly accuse Melania of being a money-seeker, but they pursue their everyday life to prove it.
“Did real love blossom between Mel and Don after they met at a Fashion Week party in 1998? Or was it always a marriage of money and convenience that’s now hurtled off in a direction Melania never foresaw? As the meme doing the rounds on inauguration day put it (attached to a picture of a startled-looking Melania) ‘when all you wanted was a sugar daddy and now you are First Lady of the United States of America.” Marie Claire/ March 21, 2017
On January 20, when Trump officially took office as president, the media was so invested in analysing the relationship between Melania and Trump and how they acted in front of the public. They were relentlessly asserting their points of view proving that it’s a fragile relationship.
It’s not limited to the US or French media, it’s a global phenomenon. Media choose to depict men as responsible decision makers, and perhaps the same often goes with significant women, only to escape criticism and being viewed as progressive media which offer equal reporting.
Truth is, media hasn’t yet reached this point of openness, and its self-proclamation of feminism is not acceptable because sexist mindsets are all over the scene.