French prime minister Jean Castex is getting an unusual postbag. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP
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, wholly French.
Lingerie shops in France are currently classed as non-essential hence are closed during the country’s partial lockdown – even though hairdressers, book stores and music shops have all been classed as essential so can stay open.
A group of lingerie shop owners (approx. 80) have hit on this particular form of protest, and are sending a steady stream of culottes (panties) to Castex, in the hope of catching his attention.
The protest, named Action Culottée, began with a video posted on TikTok where a shop owner called 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.
I should add that it’s perfectly possible to purchase underwear online so that the women of France are not being forced to go “commando.”
The key issue is that shop owners are angry supermarkets are allowed to continue selling underwear, creating an unfair situation for the lingerie shops. In a press release, the protest organisers say small independent stores present a lower risk of the virus spreading.
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.
Over the next week or so, the French government is expected to publish plans for reopening. No details are yet available, but ministers have suggested that it will begin in mid-May with the reopening of non-essential stores, plus bar and café terraces.
Castex has so far not commented on the contents of his postbag, nor has his wife!