Why might I want to know faux cul?
Last night on TF1, a shouting match erupted between Rassemblement National (RN) candidate Gilbert Collard and former ecologist, MEP and May '68 student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Collard called Cohn-Bendit a faux-cul (pronounced “foh kue”) de la politique. But what exactly was Collard accusing him of?
What does it mean?
The words faux cul, sometimes written faux-cul, actually mean “false bottom”, or maybe “false ass”, given that cul is the vulgar French word for one’s backside. Originally, faux cul described an apparatus worn under the dress by 19th century women (sometimes called a “bustle” in English), often along with a corset, in an attempt to emphasize their curves.
Because of the use of the faux cul to misrepresent one’s appearance, it soon became a synonym for “hypocrite”, “phony” or “two-faced”. As in,
Ce faux cul, il nous dit qu’il faut beaucoup travailler, mail il ne fait jamais rien.
“That hypocrite, he tells us that you have to work hard, but he never does anything.”
Elle m’avait dit précisément le contraire. Quel faux cul !
“She told me exactly the opposite. What a phony!”
So, when Collard called Cohn-Bendit a faux cul de la politique, or ‘political phony’, he was alluding to Cohn-Bendit’s past support for Emmanuel Macron and La République en Marche. Since there was already an LREM representative on the program, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit was there in a theoretically neutral position, Gilbert Collard apparently judged the situation to be unfair, and Cohn-Bendit’s presence – and his person – to be misleading.
There’s really no nice way to call someone a phony or hypocrite, but slightly less vulgar terms that mean the same thing include faux derche (“fake butt”) or faux jeton (“fake token”). Or you can get straight to the point and use hypocrite, which needs no translation.