TAGES-ANZEIGER

His & Her Success: When The Balance Of Power Shifts Inside A Power Couple

France’s First Lady Valérie Trierweiler’s troublesome tweet this week has been a public soap opera and the first real blow in the new presidency of her companion, François Hollande. But how much should a successful woman care about her man's prof

Samantha Cameron and Michele Obama have put their careers on hold (Pete Souza)
Samantha Cameron and Michele Obama have put their careers on hold (Pete Souza)
Michèle Binswanger

François Hollande was supposed to come with a clean slate, the "normal" President – ready to devote all of his attention to the citizens and country of France, not to himself.

And now his partner Valérie Trierweiler has put a spoke in the wheels – or, put more aptly, left a nasty little stain on his jacket. But this all came from a modern woman who could care less about looking after her partner's wardrobe.

The stain came in the form of a tweet in which Trierweiler expressed support for the political opponent of Ségolène Royal, Hollande's ex-partner. Since it's known that Trierweiler and Royal are enmeshed in an on-going private cat fight, this news already had the makings of a scandal – and was firmly cemented as one in light of the fact that Hollande himself supports Royal's candidacy for this weekend's parliamentary runoff.

Trierweiler, a journalist, has from Day One shown little interest in filling the role of France's First Lady, and would rather be judged by her own career accomplishments. And yet getting publicly mixed up in politics in quite this way, taking a swipe at Royal, has turned the French off. It would be an uncomfortable enough situation for a man in a far less important position. For Hollande, just elected to France's highest office, it must be a nightmare.

The French media have leapt on the story, dubbing it "Dallas in the Elysée Palace." It highlights a conflict that neither the powerful men nor the emancipated women of this world seem to have devoted much thought to: in power couples, how do the partners deal with each other's power? And more specifically: how strong can a woman be if she is at the side of a powerful man?

The former head of the Swiss National Bank, Philipp Hildebrand, was recently enmeshed in a scandal of his own involving some financial transactions allegedly made by his wife without his prior knowledge. "My wife," said Hildebrand, "has a strong personality."

This could be another way of saying: Look, I decided to marry a woman who thinks and acts independently. The Swiss media let it be: after all, in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, nobody can come out and say that a man should have his wife under control. In the Hildebrand case, it was about a joint bank account which is why he could also be held responsible for transactions made from the account. Indeed, the case eventually brought about his resignation.

Independence v. power

The Hollande/Trierweiler case is altogether different. Out of jealousy, she did something that damages his reputation. Does the French President have to answer for his partner's idiocy?

Winston Churchill wrote that, where power is concerned, women often have trouble keeping politics and feelings separate. Trierweiler's tweet is an example of that. However it should also be said that women who have their own power usually know what they're doing, and the consequences of their actions. But how about a strong woman faced with the fact that her partner is suddenly stronger? Should she insist on her autonomy? Or does she go all house-wifey, and look after his wardrobe, and make sure there are no stains?

Or put another way: how powerful can the companion of a powerful person like Hollande be allowed to be? If the issue can't be reconciled, is he better off separating from the woman – or the office?

Power couples are often considered role models for modern partnerships between equals. Ironically, the problems they run into are perfect examples of the anachronisms often overlooked in our understanding of love and partnership.

A marriage or partnership is never only just about love; it also – always – has an economic and strategic component to it. With regard to her role as First Lady, Trierweiler told the French magazine Paris Match where she has long worked as a journalist that she wanted to be independent of her partner Hollande. But maybe women in recent years have been thinking too much about their independence, and not enough about power.

Power is a system of dependencies, which also happens to apply to the partnership of a power couple. Like it or not, at the end of the day they're both in it together.

Read the original article in German

Photo - White House/Pete Souza

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

The Food Truck, A Sign That The White And Wealthy Are Moving In

In San Diego, California, a researcher tracked how in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked dining options, when interesting eateries arrive the gentrification of white, affluent and college-educated people has begun.

Balboa Park Spring Fling Food Truck festival

San Diego Food Trucks via Facebook
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

SAN DIEGO — Everybody, it seems, welcomes the arrival of new restaurants, cafés, food trucks and farmers markets.

What could be the downside of fresh veggies, homemade empanadas and a pop-up restaurant specializing in banh mis?

But when they appear in unexpected places – think inner-city areas populated by immigrants – they're often the first salvo in a broader effort to rebrand and remake the community. As a result, these neighborhoods can quickly become unaffordable and unrecognizable to longtime residents.

An appetite for gentrification

I live in San Diego, where I teach courses on urban and food geographies and conduct research on the relationship between food and ethnicity in urban contexts.

In recent years, I started to notice a pattern playing out in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked food options. More ethnic restaurants, street vendors, community gardens and farmers markets were cropping up. These, in turn, spurred growing numbers of white, affluent and college-educated people to venture into areas they had long avoided.

This observation inspired me to write a book, titled The $16 Taco, about how food – including what's seen as "ethnic," "authentic" or "alternative" – often serves as a spearhead for gentrification.

Take City Heights, a large multi-ethnic San Diego neighborhood where successive waves of refugees from places as far away as Vietnam and Somalia have resettled. In 2016, a dusty vacant lot on the busiest boulevard was converted into an outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44. There, food vendors gather in semi-permanent stalls to sell pupusas, lechon (roasted pig), single-sourced cold-brewed coffee, cupcakes and tamarind raspado (crushed ice) to neighborhood residents, along with tourists and visitors from other parts of the city.

Informal street vendors are casualties.

A public-private partnership called the City Heights Community Development Corporation, together with several nonprofits, launched the initiative to increase "access to healthy and culturally appropriate food" and serve as "a business incubator for local micro-entrepreneurs," including immigrants and refugees who live in the neighborhood.

On paper, this all sounds great.

But just a few blocks outside the gates, informal street vendors – who have long sold goods such as fruit, tamales and ice cream to residents who can't easily access supermarkets – now face heightened harassment. They've become causalities in a citywide crackdown on sidewalk vending spurred by complaints from business owners and residents in more affluent areas.

This isn't just happening in San Diego. The same tensions have been playing out in rapidly gentrifying areas like Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, New York's Queens borough and East Austin, Texas.

In all of these places, because "ethnic," "authentic" and "exotic" foods are seen as cultural assets, they've become magnets for development.

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

A call for food justice

Cities and neighborhoods have long sought to attract educated and affluent residents – people whom sociologist Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class." The thinking goes that these newcomers will spend their dollars and presumably contribute to economic growth and job creation.

Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure.

It's uncontroversial and has broad appeal. It taps into the American Dream and appeals to the multicultural values of many educated, wealthy foodies. Small food businesses, with their relatively low cost of entry, have been a cornerstone of ethnic entrepreneurship in American cities. And initiatives like farmers markets and street fairs don't require much in the way of public investment; instead, they rely on entrepreneurs and community-based organizations to do the heavy lifting.

In City Heights, the Community Development Corporation hosted its first annual City Heights Street Food Festival in 2019 to "get people together around table and food stalls to celebrate another year of community building." Other recent events have included African Restaurant Week, Dia de Los Muertos, New Year Lunar Festival, Soul Food Fest and Brazilian Carnival, all of which rely on food and drink to attract visitors and support local businesses.

Meanwhile, initiatives such as the New Roots Community Farm and the City Heights Farmers' Market have been launched by nonprofits with philanthropic support in the name of "food justice," with the goal of reducing racial disparities in access to healthy food and empowering residents – projects that are particularly appealing to highly educated people who value diversity and democracy.

Upending an existing foodscape

In media coverage of changing foodscapes in low-income neighborhoods like City Heights, you'll rarely find any complaints.

San Diego Magazine's neighborhood guide for City Heights, for example, emphasizes its "claim to authentic international eats, along with live music venues, craft beer, coffee, and outdoor fun." It recommends several ethnic restaurants and warns readers not to be fooled by appearances.

Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against the "urban food machine"

But that doesn't mean objections don't exist.

Many longtime residents and small-business owners – mostly people of color and immigrants – have, for decades, lived, worked and struggled to feed their families in these neighborhoods. To do so, they've run convenience stores, opened ethnic restaurants, sold food in parks and alleys and created spaces to grow their own food.

All represent strategies to meet community needs in a place mostly ignored by mainstream retailers.

So what happens when new competitors come to town?

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

Starting at a disadvantage

As I document in my book, these ethnic food businesses, because of a lack of financial and technical support, often struggle to compete with new enterprises that feature fresh façades, celebrity chefs, flashy marketing, bogus claims of authenticity and disproportionate media attention. Furthermore, following the arrival of more-affluent residents, existing ones find it increasingly difficult to stay.

My analysis of real estate ads for properties listed in City Heights and other gentrifying San Diego neighborhoods found that access to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and outdoor dining is a common selling point. The listings I studied from 2019 often enticed potential buyers with lines like "shop at the local farmers' market," "join food truck festivals" and "participate in community food drives!"

San Diego Magazine's home buyer guide for the same year identified City Heights as an "up-and-coming neighborhood," attributing its appeal to its diverse population and eclectic "culinary landscape," including several restaurants and Fair@44.

When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.

Going up against the urban food machine

Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against what I call the "urban food machine," a play on sociologist Harvey Molotch's "urban growth machine" – a term he coined more than 50 years ago to explain how cities were being shaped by a loose coalition of powerful elites who sought to profit off urban growth.

I argue that investors and developers use food as a tool for achieving the same ends.

When their work is done, what's left is a rather insipid and tasteless neighborhood, where foodscapes become more of a marketable mishmash of cultures than an ethnic enclave that's evolved organically to meet the needs of residents. The distinctions of time and place start to blur: An "ethnic food district" in San Diego looks no different than one in Chicago or Austin.

Meanwhile, the routines and rhythms of everyday life have changed so much that longtime residents no longer feel like they belong. Their stories and culture reduced to a selling point, they're forced to either recede to the shadows or leave altogether.

It's hard to see how that's a form of inclusion or empowerment.The Conversation

-------------------------------------------------------------

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is a Professor of Geography and Director, Urban Studies and Food Studies Programs at San Diego State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ