French President Nicholas Sarkozy raised the ire of some of his female cabinet members recently when he presented them, along with their male colleagues, with gray silk ties. The ties, a gift to celebrate France's EU presidency, were described as "yet more proof of male chauvinism in the political class" by

Socialist MP Aurelie Filippetti . Women occupy the positions of Junior Minister, Justice Minister, Interior Minister and a host of other positions in Sarkozy's cabinet - 18% of the National Assembly. Not everyone was offended by the gift; some women have apparently been seen sporting the ties, Paula Poundstone-style, while a few have been using them as headbands. However, attempts to sew the ties into skirts should be discouraged, on grounds of 1994. [BBC]