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100 French women denounce wave of #MeToo 'puritanism'

January 9, 2018

French star Catherine Deneuve and other artists wrote in an open letter published in daily Le Monde that the wave of "denunciations" in the wake of the #MeToo movement is a threat to sexual freedom and a "witch-hunt."

Cannes Eröffnung der Filmfestspiele Catherine Deneuve
Image: Getty Images/C. Bilan

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."

Read more: Meryl Streep wants to hear Melania and Ivanka Trump on #MeToo

A French #MeToo gathering in Paris
A French #MeToo gathering in Paris, in October 2017: "Shame on Catherine Deneuve" says one protester's signImage: Imago/Le Pictorium

A 'witch-hunt'?

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."

Read more: The Harvey Weinstein effect

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)