Valerie Trierweiler on why it is stronger to speak out against 'cheating' men

The former French First Lady says women who stay silent about abusive men are doing feminism a disservice

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Valerie Trierweiler’s new memoir has been criticised by some for being too overly candid about her relationship with French President François Hollande.

The book, Thank You For This Moment, details the events that preceded and followed the couple’s split after he had an affair with French actress Julie Gayet.

Trierweiler believes that she was right to voice her anger and heartbreak, describing “writing as a form of therapy”, arguing that women that don’t speak out against abusive men are doing feminism a disservice.

“These people want to say that the dignified woman is the woman who shuts up,” she said. “Is that how we serve the cause of women? I don’t think so. Is it OK to be mistreated by a man without saying anything? No.”

Trierweiler gave up her job as a political journalist to become Paris Match’s literary critic in order to avoid accusations of political bias. She later found her role as French First Lady very restrictive.

“It’s difficult to be a woman,” she told the Guardian. “It’s very, very difficult to be a woman in politics – I am not one, but I have seen it. It’s a milieu that is very macho. But at least female politicians have the legitimacy of election.

For me, the complicated bit was to sign up to a role where I had nothing to say any more. I no longer had any legitimacy. I had been a political journalist for 20 years and I still had that critical eye but [as First Lady] I was no longer allowed to express an opinion.

“The most difficult thing was to do nothing, to be the trophy wife. I found myself the only woman in France who no longer had the right to work, to speak or to not be married.”

Her view on sexism reiterates her comments made on The Andrew Marr show yesterday, when she was asked if France was misogynist.

“In the realm of politics, yes. Women in politics encounter opposition as a matter of course,” she said.

She also denied claims that she had attempted suicide, following the affair. In her book, she writes that Hollande snatched a bag of sleeping pills out of her hand, just after she discovered news of his infidelity.

“I just wanted to go to sleep. I didn't want to go through those moments, to see the photos, to face up to this new reality,” she said. “I knew that they would be published but I didn't look at them.

“I still haven't seen all of them. I can't look at them.”