Actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other French women on Tuesday denounced a backlash against men following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, saying the #Metoo campaign against sexual harassment amounted to “puritanism” and was fuelled by a “hatred of men.”
In the aftermath of accusations against the US movie producer, millions of women took to social media to share their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted, using the #Metoo hastag worldwide or #SquealOnYourPig (#balancetonporc) in France.
“This urge to send men to the slaughterhouse, instead of helping women be more autonomous, helps the enemies of sexual freedom,” the 100 women, including 74-year old Deneuve, one of France’s most famous screen stars, said in a column published by Le Monde daily.
The man’s right to “pester” a woman was an essential part of sexual freedom, they said, describing the campaign as “puritanism”.
Marlene Schiappa, the French minister tasked with cracking down on violence against women, said in a comment to Reuters that the Weinstein scandal forced a rethink of attitudes toward sexual harassment in France, a country that cherishes its self-image as the land of seduction and romance.
Schiappa kicked off nationwide consultations on a law that is due to include steps to fight sexual harassment on the streets as well as extend the statute of limitation for rape of minors.
In late October, protesters in Paris disrupted the opening of a retrospective of Roman Polanski’s work following new rape allegations against the French-Polish film director.
But for Deneuve and the other signatories of the letter, including writers and journalists, this went too far.
“This vigilante (online) justice has punished men in their jobs, forced some to resign, when all they did was touch a knee, try to steal a kiss, talk about ‘intimate’ matters in a work diner,” they wrote.
“We defend a right to pester, which is vital to sexual freedom,” they said.
View Tweets in reaction to Catherine Deneuve’s statement.
100 women and Catherine Deneuve denounce the wave of puritanical hysteria going on after the Weinstein affaire. pic.twitter.com/0RLbkf1cmW
Catherine Deneuve might have very different opinions about harassment if she weren’t an extraordinarily beautiful, very rich white woman living in a bubble of heightened privilege. And had some empathy.
— Colleen Doran (@ColleenDoran) January 9, 2018
Catherine Deneuve and the rest of the gang must be afraid to lose men’s attentions. This must come as a surprise to them, but most women don’t want to be bothered with unwanted attention.
I know, shocking right?!
— Paperback Wonderland (@pbwonderland) January 9, 2018
Catherine Deneuve is right about hashtag campaigns. I feel they are an insult to the intelligence of normal people. These issues require much more nuance and discussion than a simple hashtag.
— Jack (@JackCox) January 9, 2018