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Paris takes a revolutionary approach to its Olympic mascot

25 November 2022

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Rakewell may still be reeling from the upsets of the first week of the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean your currently armchair-bound correspondent isn’t already looking forward to another sporting spectacular: the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024.

It remains to be seen if France’s midfield will captivate us when it meets sides made of sterner stuff and longer mutual acquaintance, but we are more than a little taken with the mascot recently unveiled by the Paris 2024 organising committee. While its president, Tony Estanguet, pointed to that emblem of freedom, the Phrygian cap, as being well-known throughout the world, ‘in art, in town halls and on stamps’, some have seen it rather differently, likening the red, cockaded triangle on legs to a giant ‘clitoris in trainers’. It is possible that we may never see Marianne, the most famous wearer of the hat of republican liberty and the personification of France, the same way again.

The reception has on the whole been rather positive, with a rave review in Libération, which has welcomed the mascot as a symbolic corrective to the phallic Eiffel Tower. Still, for the sake of French women everywhere, we suggest that sex education in the hexagone has some way to go before it can win a gold medal.

 So Phrygian cap or pussy hat? Let Rakewell’s readers be the referee.

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