The first round of the French presidential election is over. On May 7th France will have to choose between a woman who will end civilization as we know it and a man who married his mother. Not the most appetizing choice.
The world and the markets and the French people breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that their next president would most likely be a young technocrat with no real party affiliation who married his teacher, a woman who is twenty-four years his senior. Being as he is the same age as her children from her first marriage, one can only wonder whether the future president of France sits at the adult or the children’s table at dinner.
In political terms, the French president gains his power when his party controls the French parliament. Since Emmanuel Macron does not have a real political party—he is a former Socialist—the chance of having his political loyalists win the parliamentary elections in June is slim, indeed. He might just become a figurehead.
Some have wondered how the British, for example, would deal with a French president who married his mother. Can the staid and stolid British comprehend the true love that blossomed between Emmanuel and Brigitte from their first encounter in the drama class she was teaching? Was it what the French call a coup-de-foudre (or coup-de-foutre) when she a fortyish married woman with three children first cast her eyes on the beauteous Emmanuel, aged 15. Or was it when he, faced with the choice between his fellow student, Brigitte’s 15 year old daughter and Maman, made a beeline for the older woman.
Of course, the British press is on the case. It is more than happy to shower young Macron—he’s 39—with gales of ridicule. The French people might be overjoyed that they are not going to be ruled by Marine Le Pen, but they should brace themselves for the simple fact that their reputation and status on the world stage is going to take a major hit. By electing a Mama’s boy they are about to lose a considerable amount of face. If they imagine that Emmanuel Macron is going to restore injured French pride they are not living in the real world.
In America we call women like Brigitte Macron cougars. In France, they come down from an ancient and venerable practice called courtly love. Dating back a thousand years courtly love was a form of adultery, committed by a married woman and a teenaged boy. Women whose husbands went off for months and even years on end to fight the crusades were alone in their castles with the “help.” Boys who were too young to fight but old enough to love were easy prey for these women. We know the boys as troubadours, or guitar heroes.
In principle, these love affairs were not consummated, but clearly the older women were teaching these boys lessons in love. Since the newspaper stories about the love of Emmanuel for Brigitte always emphasize that he pursued her—a married woman—until she divorced her husband and married him, we should also note that in courtly love poetry the boy always pursues the woman, and refers to her as his Lord.
It takes precious little knowledge of human romance to see that Brigitte seduced Emmanuel when he was under age. Rumor has it that they did not consummate their love until he was 18, but let us be clear, he was played by an older and much more savvy woman. In France this kind of relationship falls under the category of “corrupting the morals of a minor” but Macron’s parents did not press charges. I find it difficult to imagine an American mother, watching her fifteen year old son be ensorcelled by a forty year old woman, would not have had said temptress thrown into prison.
One understands that the Macron parents were seriously unhappy to see their son become the boy toy of a much older woman. Perhaps not as unhappy as the French will be when they discover that, on the world stage, surrounded by other heads of states their president will be dubbed President Boy Toy.
The French know all about the Macron marriage. But, they are so sophisticated that they accept it. After all, what is France if not the epicenter of romantic love? And, what good was all that immersion in French Freudian thought if you cannot elect as your next president, Oedipus reincarnate?
Note the comparison. In Freudian theory you want, above all else, to marry your mother. In Darwinian theory— more scientifically correct— you will be attracted to someone who is more fertile, who can produce offspring. God help us, but British thought retains its pragmatic streak.
After all, if everyone acted on their Freudian desire a community would quickly die off. Yes, I do recall, and have mentioned before, that Oedipus had four children with his mother. The fecundity of Jocasta was simply a MacGuffin—not to be taken literally.
As you might imagine the Daily Mail can barely restrain its glee over this story. One of their Agony Aunts—that is, advice columnists—addresses the salient questions in today’s paper.
Jan Moir cranks up her imagination and writes the latter that Macron would write, if he had asked her what to do about his problem.
So, faux Emmanuel writes:
How can I get the world to take me seriously if they think I am a mummy’s boy with a wife who is 25 years older than him?
On the world stage, will I look like a swot who married Madam De La Drama because maybe he wanted forever the classroom chastisement of the spanky-spanky? But no. That is the fantasy of the English schoolboy, not for moi.
‘Bibi’, as I call her, was 40 and married with three children when we met. It was complicated, but I knew I had to be with her. Mama and Papa sent me away to Paris to stop the romance, but I wooed her from afar.
Being as the French are psychologically sophisticated in matters of the heart they imagine that the only way a real man would marry his mother would be if she was to be his “beard,” that is if he was gay and was hiding it to the world. In order to advance his political ambitions.
Faux Emmanuel addresses this hoary issue:
Now, as your own BBC reported, a website has suggested I am secretly gay and live a double life. What? I got so upset, Brigitte had to calm me down with a Babybel and a carton of juice.
This wild allegation is impossible!
My wife shares my life from morning to night and, like Popeye, I am what I am. As I said at the time, if you hear these rumours about me, it’s my hologram that has escaped, it can’t be me.
Jan Moir understands the Oedipal aspect clearly:
As Oedipus knew, a great number of men secretly want to marry their own mothers — but this is not possible, not even in France.
However, getting hitched to your favourite teacher is a pretty close second.
In truth, if we want to be theoretically correct, in the world of French psychoanalysis the close second is: adultery.
Moir offers her best advice:
My advice is to forget about the gay accusations. In European politics, any man who is handsome, smells nice and wears good suits — I notice some of yours are bespoke because the buttons on the sleeves actually work! — gets this treatment.
However, with regards to looking like a mummy’s boy, we are in much more difficult territory.
Everyone knows that when you were economics minister, you took Brigitte along to important meetings as if she were a fluffy lapdog.
Apparently her presence cheers you up, and helps you to make better decisions because you value her opinion and trust her.
She has also played an active role throughout your campaign, where advisers have noted ‘her presence is essential’ for her little ‘Mani’, as she calls you.
Obviously, if she is always with him, even at ministerial meetings, he could not have a double life. But, is she with him all the time because she knows that he is tempted to have said double life? Enquiring minds want to know.
Moir advises Emmanuel not to drag his wife with him everywhere. It looks like he cannot stand on his own:
Brigitte may be an amazing woman, but don’t drag her everywhere with you. It looks as if she is waiting for an opportunity to wipe your mouth clean after lunch, or give you a smack for not standing up when Mrs Merkel walks into the room.
Moir closes with a note of caution: she strongly recommends that Emmanuel not run off with a younger woman. I doubt that we have to worry about that.