An open letter has been published in the daily Le Monde on Tuesday, attacking feminist social media campaigns like #MeToo and its French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc (Call out your pig) for allegedly unleashing a "puritanical... wave of purification."
Its around 100 signatories include French actress Catherine Deneuve, author Catherine Millet, publisher Joëlle Losfeld and German film actress and singer Ingrid Caven.
"Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not — nor is men being gentlemanly a macho attack," the letter says. "Men have been punished summarily or forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone's knee or try to steal a kiss."
The signatories of the letter claim that "a legitimate protest against the sexual violence that women are subject to, particularly in their professional lives," has turned into a "witch-hunt."
"Instead of helping women, this frenzy (...) actually helps the enemies of sexual liberty — religious extremists and the worst sort of reactionaries. As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism, which, beyond denouncing the abuse of power, takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality."
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Catherine Deneuve's controversial views
Oscar-nominated French star Catherine Deneuve had previously expressed her annoyance at social media campaigns that shame men accused of harassing women.
Referring to the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc hashtag, she said that she found the method "excessive." "After 'Calling our your pig' what are we going to have, 'Call out your whore?'" she said last year.
Deneuve had also sparked an outcry last March, when she expressed her support for filmmaker Roman Polanski, who is still wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. The actress had said in a TV interview that she "always found the word 'rape' excessive" in the circumstances.
jt/eg (AFP, EFE)