Have A Very Sexist Christmas: Feminist Group Inserts Protest Notes In Barbie and Other Toys For Children To Discover


220px-Barbie_doll_modernIf you gave a Barbie to a child in France, you might want to check the box. The French feminist group FièrEs secretly inserted pamphlets into hundreds of barbie toys and plastic guns reading “this toy is sexist. They stressed that “We have caused no damage or ripped any plastic. We simply slipped the message in boxes, or in books.” Of course, there is the injury to families who do not want to expose their children to the rantings of an extreme group that wants to use their children to make some point of social protest.

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The Desecration of Chartres


When I was last in the cathedral of Chartres, I saw a lot of scaffolding — the apse was full of it, and you couldn’t get close — but I did not realize what was going on. I thought they were cleaning the place. It turns out that they are — get this — painting it. Martin Filler was there recently, and was scandalized:

Carried away by the splendors of the moment, I did not initially realize that something was very wrong. I had noticed the floor-to-ceiling scrim-covered scaffolding near the crossing of the nave and transepts, but had assumed it was routine maintenance. But my more attentive wife, the architectural historian Rosemarie Haag Bletter—who as a Columbia doctoral candidate took courses on Romanesque sculpture with the legendary Meyer Schapiro and Gothic architecture with the great medievalist Robert Branner—immediately noticed that large areas of the sanctuary’s deep gray limestone surface had been painted.

The first portion she pointed out was a pale ochre wall patterned with thin, perpendicular white lines mimicking mortar between masonry blocks. Looking upward we then saw panels of blue faux marbre, high above them gilded column capitals and bosses (the ornamental knobs where vault ribs intersect), and, nearby, floor-to-ceiling piers covered in glossy yellow trompe l’oeil marbling, like some funeral parlor in Little Italy.

How could this be happening, and why had we heard nothing about it before?


In this part of the cathedral one can already determine how the lighter wall colors change our perception of the incomparable stained glass, whose effect is hugely diminished by their new surroundings. Whereas the old, age-darkened masonry heightened the intense colors of the windows, the new paint subverts them. As Adrien Goetz wrote in Le Figaro last month (in one of the very few critical accounts of the overhaul in France), the new effect is like “watching a film in a movie theater where they haven’t turned off the lights.”

Take a look at the Filler piece, and see the before and after photo of the famed Black Madonna. She and the Christ Child now look like a piece of Baroque marzipan. Unbelievable.

You can’t blame the Church for this wreckovation; I’m fairly sure that the Chartres cathedral belongs to the State, as does Notre Dame de Paris.

Back in 2009, the Independent published an upbeat report on the repainting, which had just begun. Excerpt:

Mr Fresson [the historian overseeing the renovation — RD] expects some visitors to Chartres to be taken aback – maybe even angered – by the transformation. “There is no doubt that we will lose something, even if we gain a great deal,” he said. “The sense of mystery, the sense of the passing ages, which you receive when you enter the dark interior of today will be replaced by something fresher and much more dynamic.”

Yes, we cannot have a sense of mystery. Freshness and dynamism, that’s the ticket. Good Lord. You expect this in America, but in France?

I am grateful that I was able to see the cathedral as it was. My children will live their entire lives without that privilege.


Christmas Wars in France

Yes, despite years of official rabid secularism, they’re going through it, too…

Last week, a French administrative court ruled that the town of La Roche-sur-Yon—located, appropriately, in the historically royalist, counter-revolutionary region of the Vendee—must remove a Christmas crèche from its city hall. The court held that the crèche violates the 1905 French Law on the Separation of Church and State, which, according to the court, forbids religious displays like crèches on public property. According to news reports (in French), the court concluded the display was incompatible with the principle of state religious neutrality, or laïcité.

I don’t know enough about French administrative law to evaluate the decision. What I find fascinating, as an outsider, is how closely the French debate tracks the American. The lawsuit seeking removal of the crèche was brought by a secularist group called the “Fédération de la Libre Pensée,” which, I gather, is analogous to American groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Atheists. The group argues that the crèche “fails to respect the conscience of the citizen” by “imposing” on him a religious display whenever he enters city hall. In response, the town’s supporters evoke cultural traditions more than Christianity. Religious neutrality, they say, does not require abandoning longstanding French customs. What’s next, they ask? Church bells and Christmas lights? They’ve started a popular hashtag campaign #TouchePasAMaCreche.


Notwithstanding the rhetorical commitment to laïcité, French law allows a great deal of entanglement between church and state—more, in some respects, than we would tolerate in the US. (Guess who owns Notre Dame and all other church buildings that existed as of 1905? Hint: it’s not the Church.) On the other hand, the defense of tradition in this case rings somewhat hollow. La Roche-sur-Yon only began displaying the crèche twenty-two years ago.

Paris ‘sex toy’ sculpture sabotaged at Place Vendome

That thing I wrote about the other day?

It’s been sabotaged!


A huge inflatable sculpture inspired by a sex toy has been sabotaged days after it was installed in Paris.

The 24m (80ft) sculpture on Place Vendome in Paris was brought down when supporting cords were cut.

Earlier, US artist Paul McCarthy told a French newspaper that he was attacked by a man who said the sculpture had no place being on the street.

The sculpture is part of the week-long International Contemporary Art Fair in the French capital.

The art fair said it would restore the deflated sculpture as soon as it could.

McCarthy told French newspaper Le Monde that his work, entitled Tree, was an “abstract work” rooted in a joke about a sex toy and was also inspired by a Christmas tree.

Police said the sculpture had been attacked overnight.

“An unidentified group of people cut the cables which were holding the artwork, which caused it to collapse,” police said.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the attack was unacceptable, and also denounced the attack on McCarthy.

“Paris will not succumb to the threats of those who, by attacking an artist or a work, are attacking artistic freedom,” she said.

“Art has its place in our streets and nobody will be able to chase it away.”

Blah blah blah fishcakes.

That’s not art. It’s prog agit-prop.

Kudos to whoever did it! 🙂

And may the same fate meet any replacement work (hey, if it’s really art, wouldn’t it be ‘irreplaceable’, like if someone defaced the Mona Lisa, for instance?)

All is fair in love and war, say some.

Well, this is a war. A culture war.

And culture war can be waged back!

Deliberately provocative American artist outrages Parisians with sculpture that looks like a butt plug, ostensibly inspired by both the sex toy and Christmas trees


buttplug buttplug2

A huge, green, inflatable sculpture on a famous Paris square has raised a storm for its resemblance to a sex toy, with the artist attacked in the street.

US artist Paul McCarthy told French newspaper Le Monde that his work entitled Tree had been inspired both by a sex toy and a Christmas tree.

When he went to see it on Place Vendome, a man slapped his face before running away, the paper says.


The stranger, who slapped him three times, shouted that he was not French and that his work had “no business being on the square”, the paper writes.


Indignant comments about Tree itself included “Place Vendome defaced!” and “Paris humiliated!”

The square with its towering Column, Napoleon’s monument to the Battle of Austerlitz (closed until next year for restoration), is famous for its luxury hotels such as the Ritz.

Good on the man who slapped him – he’s right about it not belonging there – and the others who have condemned it.

Alas, as the article mentions, some folks thought it was a lark.

France: Man denied vote over ‘political’ sweatshirt

With the slogan of the movement against ‘gay marriage’ on it.

A man in France has been turned away from a polling station for wearing a “political” outfit, it seems.

The man, known as Bruno, was wearing a sweatshirt bearing the silhouette of a four-member family – but was told he couldn’t vote unless he got changed, the centre-right newspaper Le Figaro reports. The family image is the emblem of the Manif pour tous (Demo for all), an umbrella group opposed to France’s same-sex marriage law.

He “is banning me from voting because I have this T-shirt”, Bruno complains in an exchange with an election official that was captured on film. The official retorts: “I have not banned you from voting, I have asked you not to express any political opinion in the polling station.”

And if it isn’t practical for him to go home and get changed, that’s effectively banning him from voting.