Actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other French women complained Tuesday about a so-called backlash against men following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, claiming the #Metoo campaign against sexual harassment amounted to “puritanism” and was fueled by a “hatred of men.”
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“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.
“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not — nor is being gentlemanly a macho attack,” said the letter.
In the aftermath of accusations against the U.S. movie producer, millions of women took to social media to share their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted, using the #Metoo hashtag worldwide or #SquealOnYourPig (#balancetonporc) in France.
Deneuve sparked an outcry last March for her fulsome support of French-based director Roman Polanski, who is still wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
While his victim Samantha Geimer wants the case dropped so she can get on with her life, Deneuve told French television that “she always found the word ‘rape’ excessive” in the circumstances.
The French broadcasting watchdog later called her comments “retrograde”.
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 dinner,” they wrote.
“We defend a right to pester, which is vital to sexual freedom,” they said.