Deneuve denounces #MeToo campaign, defends men's right to 'seduce'

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Catherine Deneuve, the 74-year-old French actress known for her decades-long career, has joined 99 other women in signing an open letter that challenges the #MeToo movement and its French counterpart #Balancetonporc, claiming that the public campaigns infantilize women, limit sexual freedom, and contribute to "puritanical" and "totalitarian" thinking.

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

The letter begins with the statement that rape is a crime.

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

Translations of the letter were quickly picked up by Twitter on Tuesday and responses ranged from supportive to hostile.

"Rape is a crime".

Notably, the MeToo movement started as a result of sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood. This was necessary. But what was supposed to liberate voices has now been turned on its head: We are being told what is proper to say and what we must stay silent about - and the women who refuse to fall into line are considered traitors, accomplices!

In fact, #MeToo has led to a campaign, in the press and on social media, of public accusations and indictments against individuals who, without being given a chance to respond or defend themselves, are put in the exact same category as sex offenders.

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It said the "legitimate protest against sexual violence" stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal has gone too far and threatens hard-won sexual freedoms.

"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.

This "puritan wave" was already bringing censorship in its wake, the women insisted, claiming that some of them had already been asked to make the male characters in their writing "less sexist", and told to tone down certain scenes to "better show the trauma suffered by female characters". Bordering on ridiculous, in Sweden a bill was presented that calls for explicit consent before any sexual relations!

However, there are others who though not fully agreeing to Deneuve, said she may have some valid points to make.

In the letter, Deneuve et al address the patriarchy directly and point out some of the hypocrisies of the movement we are living in-where a women can recognize the difference between a sexually depraved act, such as having a man expose his privates on a subway, and catalogue it as a non-event-but can't accept a coworker sending a sexually explicit text message.

The women argue that this new feminism, aside from the cases where power is called into play, is projecting a hatred of men and sexuality.

"For those of us who chose 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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