Why the French prime minister is being sent ladies’ underwear

Why the French prime minister is being sent ladies' underwear
French prime minister Jean Castex is getting an unusual postbag. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP
It might be all in a day's work for rock musicians and movie stars, but now France's prime minister is also being sent women's knickers in the post.

But it’s not just the charms of 55-year-old PM Jean Castex that have prompted the daily deliveries of lingerie – this is a particular form of protest.

Lingerie shops in France are currently classed as non-essential so are closed during the country’s ‘partial lockdown’ – even though hairdressers, book stores and music shops have all been classed as essential so stayed open.

A group of shop owners have hit on this particular form of protest, and are sending a steady stream of culottes to Castex, in the hope of catching his attention.

The protest, named Action Culottée, began with a video posted on TikTok in which a shop owner calls for others to join her, saying: “No, putting on underwear every morning is not something to be relegated to the background, we have every right to be open.”

@mmetoutlemonde21

Action Culottée ! 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼 ##pourtoi ##pourtapage ##actionculottee ##matignon ##castex ##bisous

♬ son original – Mme Toutlemonde

She is particularly angry that supermarkets are allowed to keep selling underwear, creating an unfair situation for the lingerie shops.

In a press release, the organisers say small independent stores present a lower risk of the virus spreading.

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“Studies show that it is not in independent shops that the risk of transmission is the highest. Our small stores allow us to regulate the flow of visitors in a precise manner.

“The big stores are open, welcome the public often without respecting the fixed distances and do not always enforce the measures of social distancing.”

The French government is expected to publish over the next two weeks a plan for reopening. No details are yet available, but ministers have suggested that the reopening will begin in mid May with the reopening of non-essential stores and bar and café terraces.

READ ALSO Schools, shops, bars and cafés – France’s timetable for reopening

Castex has so far not commented on his unusual postbag.

Vocab

Une culotte – knickers/panties (singular in French, as with trousers and jeans)

Sous-vêtements – underwear

Commerçant/commerçante – business owner

Une petite entreprise – a small business


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