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Catherine Deneuve denounces #MeToo in open letter

A collective of 100 French women including film star Catherine Deneuve have signed an ...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 1:15 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 1:15 PM

A collective of 100 French women including film star Catherine Deneuve have signed an open letter defending men's "freedom to pester" women, sparking an angry response from a group of feminist activists.

The open letter, which criticized the #MeToo movement and warned about a new "puritanism" sparked by recent sexual harassment allegations, was published Tuesday in French newspaper Le Monde.

The group of writers, performers, academics and businesswomen denounced a "hatred of men and sexuality" and the recent wave of "denunciations." Men's "freedom to pester" is "indispensable to sexual freedom," they wrote.

"Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense, nor is gallantry macho aggression."

A group of around 30 activists, led by prominent feminist Caroline De Haas, responded on Wednesday with a scathing critique, published on France Info.

They accused the signatories of deliberately mixing "seduction, based on respect and pleasure, with violence."

"Sexual violence is not 'intensified flirting,'" they wrote. "One means treating the other as your equal, respecting their desires, whatever they may be. The other is treating them as an object at your disposal, paying no attention to their own desires, or their consent."

They also criticized the letter's claim that the movement risks going "too far," and the suggestion that it's the responsibility of women to protect themselves from intimidation.

"When will we ask the question about men's responsibility to not rape or abuse?" they wrote, describing the letter as "a bit like the annoying colleague or the tiring uncle who doesn't really understand what's going on around him."

Sandra Muller, founder of the #BalanceTonPorc ("squeal on your pig") movement -- the French equivalent of #MeToo -- also denounced Tuesday's letter.

Speaking to CNN, she described it as "buzz for the sake of buzz" and criticized the signatories, saying "they are just going to sap the morale of the numerous victims who try to have a bit of courage."

"Feminism is not about protecting sexual liberation," she added, "but about protecting women."

#MeToo reduces women to 'poor little things'

The dispute comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which has ushered in a new social climate in which women feel increasingly comfortable to speak out against sexual harassment and abuse.

In Wednesday's letter, De Haas and her fellow activists welcomed these changes, but said that "every time that women's rights progress...resistance appears."

They see that resistance in Tuesday's letter, in which Deneuve and others argue that while the Harvey Weinstein scandal had led to a "legitimate wake-up call to the sexual violence exercised against women," the "fever" of publicly denouncing abusers "really only serves the enemies of sexual freedom."

To make matters worse, they wrote, "the movement chains women to the status of the eternal victim" by framing them as "poor little things who are dominated by demon phallocrats."

Not only that, but the movement has spawned a wave of hatred toward the accused, they said, who are mentioned in the same breath as sexual aggressors without being given the chance to defend themselves.

This new type of "swift justice" has already claimed its victims, they wrote, citing men forced to resign "when all they did wrong was touch a knee."

This comment is a clear reference to the resignation of former UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who stepped down in November after admitting to touching journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee in 2002.

The article also criticized the "confusion of the man and the work," chastising a campaign to ban a Roman Polanski retrospective at a Paris cinema last November.

Deneuve, who has previously worked on films with Polanski, came out publicly in support of him last March amid persistent accusations of pedophilia and rape.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500709

Reported Deaths: 9977
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34312538
DeSoto32080403
Hinds31924627
Jackson24482379
Rankin21983390
Lee15530235
Madison14574280
Jones13838242
Forrest13447251
Lauderdale11985316
Lowndes11030188
Lamar10508135
Pearl River9503237
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Hancock7728126
Washington7422157
Oktibbeha7142131
Monroe6769176
Warren6682176
Pontotoc6659102
Neshoba6635206
Panola6520131
Marshall6462134
Bolivar6313148
Union602494
Pike5817152
Alcorn5667101
Lincoln5433135
George496779
Scott472698
Tippah469081
Prentiss466881
Leflore4657144
Itawamba4633105
Adams4586119
Tate4584110
Copiah448592
Simpson4445116
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Sunflower4237105
Marion4225108
Coahoma4159104
Leake408288
Newton381679
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Stone359764
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Attala331489
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay307976
Chickasaw299667
Clarke292494
Calhoun279346
Holmes267887
Smith263850
Yalobusha233747
Tallahatchie227151
Greene219048
Walthall218763
Lawrence212440
Perry205356
Amite205155
Webster202746
Noxubee186640
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171542
Carroll168838
Tunica159439
Benton148738
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132437
Humphreys129238
Franklin120028
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 817054

Reported Deaths: 15320
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1145501922
Mobile724601333
Madison52172694
Shelby37533348
Baldwin37192547
Tuscaloosa35044606
Montgomery34067734
Lee23195245
Calhoun22205476
Morgan20754376
Etowah19811497
Marshall18317302
Houston17345411
St. Clair15983339
Cullman15383292
Limestone15298198
Elmore15161284
Lauderdale14225294
Talladega13802276
DeKalb12622260
Walker11162369
Blount10162175
Autauga9954146
Jackson9844182
Coffee9195191
Dale8880185
Colbert8826201
Tallapoosa7071198
Escambia6764130
Covington6699183
Chilton6627161
Russell627959
Franklin5955105
Chambers5567142
Marion4982126
Dallas4936200
Clarke474583
Pike4722105
Geneva4566126
Winston4502103
Lawrence4296117
Bibb424086
Barbour356676
Marengo337789
Monroe331463
Randolph328763
Butler325696
Pickens315682
Henry311965
Hale311088
Cherokee301760
Fayette291879
Washington251351
Cleburne247360
Crenshaw244375
Clay241768
Macon232363
Lamar222047
Conecuh185853
Coosa179739
Lowndes174564
Wilcox167939
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132738
Greene126644
Choctaw88127
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