Oscar-nominated French actor Catherine Deneuve has had enough of the “witch-hunt” taking place in Hollywood, at least according to an open letter she signed Tuesday. The letter was published in French newspaper Le Monde.
Deneuve, 74, along with roughly 100 other French female writers, scholars and performers, wrote and signed an open letter chiding the new “puritanism” sparked by the ongoing Hollywood sexual assault and harassment scandal.
Among other things, the letter says that men should be “free to hit on” women, and it chastises the constant “denunciations” of men following the initial Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations in early October.
“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not — nor is men being gentlemanly a macho attack,” reads the letter. “Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss.”
The women rue that men’s names have been dragged through the mud for “talking about intimate subjects during professional dinners or for sending sexually charged messages to women who did not return their attentions.”
The signees call out the #MeToo movement — and also its French equivalent, #BalanceTonPorc (roughly translated as “Calling Out Your Pig”) — for ushering in a new era of unattainable “purification.”
“What began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite — we intimidate people into speaking ‘correctly,’ shout down those who don’t fall into line, and those women who refused to bend [to the new realities] are regarded as complicit and traitors.”
The letter goes on to defend women’s right to sexual freedom, for which “the liberty to seduce and importune was essential.”
“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,” it continues. “[Women] sufficiently aware that the sexual urge is by its nature wild and aggressive. But we are also clear-eyed enough not to confuse an awkward attempt to pick someone up with a sexual attack.”
Deneuve has spoken out about this issue before.
“I don’t think it is the right method to change things, it is excessive,” she said in October 2017, speaking specifically about #MeToo. “After ‘calling out your pig’ what are we going to have, ‘call out your whore’?”
The social-media backlash was immediate.
Was waiting for this. Now women are turning on women.
Catherine Deneuve and others sign open letter that claims ‘witch-hunt’ in wake of Harvey Weinstein scandal poses threat to sexual freedom
Good job french women. UGHhttps://t.co/d3BywJZIkf
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) January 9, 2018
@ Catherine Deneuve pic.twitter.com/169Dik5psf
— fatigay 🌙 (@pamplemouz) January 9, 2018
Catherine Deneuve is over party. pic.twitter.com/qSWgua0Gfg
— Jennifer Padjemi (@jenniferpadjemi) January 9, 2018
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
Deneuve was nominated for a best actress Oscar in 1993 for her work in the movie Indochine.