Emmanuel Macron, who polls say is poised to become president of France in Sunday’s election, met his future wife when he was just 15. She was his 39-year-old teacher at the time, married, with three children.
The two apparently had some sort of connection early, the story goes, and even when his parents moved him from the school to another in Paris, the two continued their relationship. She would eventually divorce, and when Macron was 25 — and Brigitte Trogneux was nearly 50 — the two married.
Now, if you flipped that story — a 15-year-old girl pursued by a 39-year-old teacher — the story would be disgusting. But to the Washington Post, the May-December relationship is just fine if the older one is a woman.
“That cliche-busting fact — a candidate young enough to be his wife’s son, rather than old enough to be her father — is a little social “revenge” that delights many French women, including Martine Bergossi,” the Post reports in a story headlined “Emmanuel Macron is 39 and his wife is 64. French women say it’s about time.”
“Why can’t we marry younger men? I date them all the time,” said Bergossi, the stylish owner of Alternatives, a secondhand-couture shop in Paris, who prefers to leave her exact age to the imagination.
“It’s normal to see men with younger women,” she said. “So it’s rather great to see the opposite.”
France is famous for its laissez-faire attitude toward sex and love, yet the May-December romance between Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron has added a little ooh-la-la to a presidential campaign that is otherwise a deadly serious matter.
The story, of course, quickly turns into Trump-bashing piece.
Brigitte Macron is a grandmother and her husband has boyish looks. Melania Trump, who used to model here in Paris, is young enough to be the U.S. president’s daughter. The couples have nearly the same age gap: the Trumps were born 23 years and 10 months apart and the Macrons 24 years and eight months.
Le Pen, if elected, would make history as France’s first female president, but men turned out in greater numbers for her than women did in the first round of the election, according to polls. In interviews, many women said that although they would like to see a female president, they were deeply concerned about Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, antiglobalist views and her party’s conservative views on women’s reproductive rights. Le Pen, 48, has been married twice. Her partner, a politician who has kept a much lower profile than Brigitte Macron, is 47.
Cécile Alduy, a French professor at Stanford University who is in Paris this semester following the election, said that political spouses in France do not have the same public role as they do in the United States.
“It was so unusual and commented on” when Brigitte Macron joined her husband on stage after he won the first-round vote, Alduy said. Many women find it interesting that Macron is putting his wife in the spotlight, posing for photos with her, even appearing on the cover of a magazine with her in a bathing suit at the beach.
But while President Trump is also 24 years old than his spouse, he didn’t meet her — and pursue her — when she was 15. She was 35 years old when she married Trump. But to the Post, that’s just as bad.