Single, pregnant, and Minister of Justice

by on September 8, 2008  •  In Culture

The Observer

A very Gallic view of single motherhood
Janien DiGiovanni

The most famous woman in France today is the mysterious French Minister of Justice, 42-year-old Rachida Dati, who is nearly six months' pregnant. Rien de grave: nothing serious. Here in France, being a single mother is no big deal. More than 50 per cent of the children born are conceived out of wedlock. Instead, the big deal is that Dati is keeping the papa secret.

No one cares that she is single, even if all of Paris is blazing with rumours about who provided the DNA. No one yet has stepped forward. Dati has made it clear her private life is 'complicated' and she is keeping quiet.

Good for her. Although of North African origin, where traditionally women are kept in their well-harnessed place, Dati is a modern French woman. My sources at the Elys̩e Palace say she drinks and sleeps around happily Рin other words, she behaves like any male politician.

The fact that, at 42, she finds herself happily pregnant – she says it is 'fundamental' to have a child – and has decided to raise it alone are steps ahead for French feminism.

Across the Atlantic,…  Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's 17-year old daughter Bristol is also famous for being pregnant. Unlike Dati, we all know who the father is – Levi Johnston, 18…. [A] shotgun wedding is being planned.

Britain, where teenage pregnancy is the highest in Western Europe, falls somewhere between the two cultures. It's not quite so relaxing to be a single mother in London as it is in Paris, but it's not as stigmatised as it is in America. Which is incredible, given that we are in the 21st century and women in America have had the vote since 1920. In France, women did not vote until 1944….

Even Sex and the City could not cure Americans of their staid views on single motherhood. The smart, feisty and financially independent lawyer Miranda had to go ahead and marry the bartender and professional loser Steve just to placate the viewers after she had her baby….

[H]ere in France, Dati has been photographed looking glamorous and confident. She's going about her business with a neat little bump and a power haircut, briefcase tucked sagely under her arm. Her pregnancy (the result of a one-night stand it is rumoured) is deemed utterly normal….


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