French women's rights activists denounce Deneuve's letter

French actress Catherine Deneuve arrives for a Surrealist Dinner Party at the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco

French feminists have denounced an open letter signed by film star Catherine Deneuve that said men are being unfairly targeted by sexual misconduct allegations and should be free to hit on women.

"This urge to send men to the slaughterhouse, instead of helping women be more autonomous, helps the enemies of sexual freedom", they wrote.

Writer Abnousse Shalmani, one of those who signed the open letter, said she was surprised by the "extremely violent reactions" it prompted.

The letter has sparked backlash in France, as the country grapples with its own debate over sexual harassment and assault.

In a text published on the Franceinfotv website on Wednesday, feminist Caroline De Haas and over 30 activists strongly criticised the letter.

The letter got a mostly hostile reception on social media, quickly becoming the most tweeted story onTwitter in France.

"Rape is a crime. It was necessary. But now this liberation of speech has been turned on its head".


They claimed most of the women who signed the letter to Le Monde daily were "recidivists in defending child abusers", a reference to film director Roman Polanski, who Deneuve has supported in his long fight against extradition to the United States on rape charges.

"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 letter stated.

After describing requests from publishers to make male characters "less sexist" and a Swedish bill that will require people to give explicit consent before engaging in sexual activity, the women write: "One more effort and two adults who will want to sleep together will first check, through an app on their mobile phone, a document in which the practices they accept and those they refuse will be duly listed".

Today we are educated enough to understand that sexual impulses are, by nature, offensive and primitive - but we are also able to tell the difference between an awkward attempt to pick someone up and what constitutes a sexual assault.

To say that #MeToo was puritanical and driven by a "hatred of men" was "contemptuous" of the victims of abuse and harassment, the feminists insisted, accusing the signatories of trying to "slam back the lid" blown off by the Weinstein scandal. She can make sure that her wages are equal to a man's but not feel forever traumatized by a man who rubs himself against her in the subway, even if that is regarded as an offense.

The actor denounced the #MeToo movement and its French equivalent, #Balancetonporc (Call out your pig), in a letter, signed by over 100 French actors, and said the movements have created a totalitarian climate by publicly prosecuting private experiences.

"For those of us who made a decision to have children, we think that it is wiser to raise our daughters in a way that they may be sufficiently informed and aware to fully live their lives without being intimidated or blamed".

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