French actor Catherine Deneuve was one of about 100 female French writers, performers and academics who have written an open letter rejecting the "puritanism" that has emerged since the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
The letter appeared in Le Monde on Monday, one day after Hollywood's heavyweights rallied together at the Golden Globes, many of whom dressed in black to mark solidarity with the #metoo movement.
Deneuve and the women in the letter say gallantry is not "macho aggression" and that the men who were forced to resign for having "touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss, talked about "intimate" things at a professional dinner" are victims.
Below are translated excepts from the letter:
"Rape is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offence, nor is gallantry a macho aggression.
As a result of the Weinstein affair, there has been a legitimate increase in awareness of sexual violence against women, particularly in the workplace, where some men abuse their power. It was necessary. But this freeing of voices turns today into its opposite: we are asked to speak correctly, to silence what angers, and the women who refuse to comply with such orders are regarded as treacherous and accomplices!
Now, it's typical of puritanism to borrow, in the name of a supposedly general good, arguments for the protection of women and their emancipation in order to better shackle them to the status of eternal victims, poor little things under the influence of demonic phallocrats, as in the good old days of witchcraft.
Denunciations and indictments
.#metoo has de facto led to, in the press and on social networks, a campaign of public denunciations and indictments of individuals who, without being given the opportunity to respond or defend themselves, have been put on exactly the same level as convicted sexual offenders. This expeditious justice already claimed victims, men punished in the exercise of their profession, forced to resign, etc., whose only wrongdoings are to have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss, talked about "intimate" things at a professional dinner or to have sent messages with sexual connotations to a woman whose attraction was not reciprocal. This excitement to send the "pigs" to the slaughterhouse, far from helping women to empower themselves, actually serves the interests of enemies of sexual freedom of, religious extremists, of the worst reactionaries and those who believe, in the name of a substantial conception of good and Victorian morality that goes with it, that women are ‘separate’ beings, children with adult faces begging to be protected. Opposite them, men are called to beat their chest and to find, deep into their retrospective consciousness, a ‘misbehaviour’ that they could have had 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and for which they should repent. The public confession, the foray self-proclaimed prosecutors in a private sphere, all this sets up a sort of totalitarian climate in the society.
As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism which, beyond the denunciation of abuses of power, takes on the face of a hatred of men and of sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say no to a sexual proposition is not without the freedom to bother. And we consider that one must be able to reply to this freedom to bother in other ways than by locking ourselves in the role of prey. For those of us who have chosen to have children, we believe that it makes more sense to raise our daughters so that they are informed and aware enough to be able to live life to the fullest without being intimidated or made to feel guilty. The accidents that can affect a woman's body do not necessarily affect her dignity and should not, however hard they may be, necessarily turn her into a perpetual victim. Because we are not reduced to our body. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risks and responsibilities."