By C. Young
Updated November 26, 2001 01:00 PM

Any time you star in a costume drama about the French Revolution and don’t actually get beheaded, you’re doing pretty well. Better than King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, anyway, who both went to the guillotine in a very public display of Equal Opportunity vengeance. But Hilary Swank, 27, detects sexism in the scandal of Jeanne de la Motte Valois, who caused a scandal that helped provoke the French citizenry to dispense with the ruling class. Valois also inspired “The Affair of the Necklace,” Swank’s latest movie, which follows Valois as she impersonates a confidante of Marie Antoinette to steal a valuable necklace, sell it and buy back her family estate which has been wrongly confiscated. Valois received a whipping, notoriety and exile for her efforts, but if she had been a man, Swank thinks her case might have followed a different route. “She was a woman very out of her time,” Swank, who won the Oscar for her portrayal of the tormented Brandon Teena in “Boys Don’t Cry,” told the Associated Press. “Had a man done that, I don’t think it would have been as big of a deal. Or it would have been as big of a deal, but people would responded to it differently.”