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Being a housewife's great – if you've a glamorous career on the side

IT sounds like an extract from one of those long-forgotten manuals on how to please your husband, but no, it's the latest words of wisdom from celebrity land.

A woman's place is at home with her children, declares former French first lady Carla Bruni in an interview for Vogue magazine.

Arguably, this could be good – in a 1950s kind of way. After all, isn't it great that someone of her status can be proud about the fact she loves being a wife and mother? A refreshing change for housewives everywhere, who can look upon the glamorous Carla as proof that staying home and looking after the kids needn't be dismissed in these days of women insisting on having such pesky things as careers.

Yet I'm not convinced this was a declaration made in between Ms Bruni doing a pile of ironing, cleaning the bathroom and trailing around picking up after her baby girl and 11-year-old son. The former supermodel turned singer – who earned nearly £5 million a year at the height of her career – has the choice of wafting round not just one but two lovely homes with husband Nicolas Sarkozy, including a mansion in one of the poshest parts of Paris. To help deal with the daily chores, she has permanent domestic staff, drivers and other assistants. "I love family life, I love doing the same thing every day," she told Vogue. Somehow, I don't think she is referring to the monotony of bunging the 10th load of washing in the machine.

In another interview earlier this year, Ms Bruni outlined the modest life she and the former president like to lead – despite their fabulous wealth – including simple homely pleasures such as watching TV soaps. All very good, but I'm guessing she might still venture out for the odd glittering lunch, relaxing day at the spa or appearance on the red carpet. It's a far cry from the lives of most women living in the busy real world, who can't just pick and choose the nice bits of bringing up baby or creating the perfect dream home – often while having to juggle working at the same time.

And it's not like Ms Bruni is a stay-at-home mum who has had to ponder sacrificing her own identity outside the family home. While she might claim to be dedicating herself to family life, she has also found time to take part in an advertising campaign for headphones, appear on the front of glossy magazines and make a new album, which happens to be out in February. Not for her the angst of wondering if going part-time to care for her children will result in a permanent step off the career ladder.

Ms Bruni, 44, has also triggered controversy with her musings on women in the modern world. "We don't need to be feminist in my generation," she said in the interview, suggesting that the "pioneers" had already got that equality business sorted out.

But this doesn't square with her campaign, two years ago, to save the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother-of-two in Iran, who faced being stoned to death after being found guilty of adultery. At the time Ms Bruni wrote a heartfelt open letter to Ms Ashtiani, questioning why her blood should be shed simply because "you have lived, because you have loved, because you're a woman, and because you're an Iranian". Will she now be popping a missive in the post to Ms Ashtiani – whose fate remains unclear – to reassure her that the battle for women's rights is done and dusted?

Perhaps it's a bit harsh to judge Ms Bruni for a few throwaway comments that have been seized upon amid the insatiable demand for insights into the lives of the rich and famous. But issuing such pronouncements from the lofty heights of a French chateau is patronising to women dealing with the daily realities of domestic or working life.

Perhaps what she meant to say was that it's great to stay at home with the family and feminism is no longer needed – so long as you are an Italian heiress and former supermodel who married a powerful politician. Ah, now I see your point, Carla.

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