Catherine Deneuve, a French actress known for her roles in 8 Women, Belle du Jour and Dancer in the Dark, has joined more than 100 French women, including prominent actresses, writers and academics, to denounce the #MeToo movement, saying that it has gone too far.
The collective produced an open letter which warned that a new “puritanism” is coming about following ongoing sexual harassment allegations, or as the letter refers to them, “denunciations”. The letter was published on Tuesday in French newspaper Le Monde (via Indiewire).
The women argue that the accusations against Weinstein and others have resulted in a “witch hunt” against men that is threatening sexual freedom, though they accept that the behaviour has “caused a lot of pain.”
“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not – nor is men being gentlemanly a chauvinistic attack,” the letter reads. “Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss.”
Men's “freedom to pester” is “indispensable to sexual freedom,” they wrote, and that “a woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a ‘promiscuous woman,’ nor a vile accomplice of patriarchy.”
The letter continues: “What began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite – we intimidate people into speaking ‘correctly’, shout down those who don’t fall into line, and those women who refused to bend [to the new realities] are regarded as complicit and traitors.”
The letter has stirred a major debate in France. A group of about 30 feminists have issued a statement (via CNN) accusing Deneuve and her co-signatories of trying to “close the lid” on the industry scandals uncovered, and of “pouring scorn” on victims of sexual violence. They described the letter as “a bit like the annoying colleague or the tiring uncle who doesn't really understand what's going on around him.”
France has its own #MeToo movement called #Balancetonporc, or "Expose Your Pig."