In Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” an American writer clambers into a yellow vintage Peugeot every night and is transported back to hobnob with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Toulouse-Lautrec and Gertrude Stein in the shimmering movable feast. The star-struck aspiring novelist from Pasadena, played by Owen Wilson, gets to escape his tiresome fiancée and instead talk war and sex with Papa Hemingway, who barks “Have you ever shot a charging lion?” “Who wants to fight?” and “You box?”
Many Frenchmen — not to mention foundering neighbor, the crepuscular Casanova Silvio Berlusconi — may be longing to see that Peugeot time machine come around a cobblestone corner.
Some may yearn to return to a time when manly aggression was celebrated rather than suspected, especially after waking up Tuesday to see the remarkable front page of Libération — photos of six prominent French women in politics with the headline “Marre des machos,” or “Sick of machos.”
“Is this the end of the ordinary misogyny that weighs on French political life?” the paper asked, adding: “Tongues have become untied.”
In the wake of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, as more Frenchwomen venture sexual harassment charges against elite men, the capital of seduction is reeling at the abrupt shift from can-can to can’t-can’t. Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical weekly, still argues that “News always stops at the bedroom door,” but many French seem ready to bid adieu to the maxim.