Thu, Jan 11, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Men have right to ‘hit on’ women: actress Deneuve

AFP, PARIS

France’s most revered actress, Catherine Deneuve, on Tuesday said that men should be “free to hit on” women, condemning a new “puritanism” she claimed has been sparked by sexual harassment scandals.

She was one of about 100 French women writers, performers and academics who wrote an open letter deploring the wave of “denunciations” that has followed claims that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed women over decades.

They branded it a “witch hunt” that they claim threatens sexual freedom.

“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not — nor is being gentlemanly a macho attack,” the letter published in Le Monde said.

“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,” said the letter, which was also signed by Catherine Millet, author of the hugely explicit 2002 memoir The Sexual Life of Catherine M.

Men had been dragged through the mud, they argued, for “talking about intimate subjects during professional dinners or for sending sexually charged messages to women who did not return their attentions.”

The letter attacked feminist social media campaigns like MeToo and its French equivalent Balancetonporc (Call out your pig) for unleashing this “puritanical ... wave of purification.”

It claimed that “legitimate and necessary protest against the sexual violence that women are subject to, particularly in their professional lives,” had turned into a witch hunt.

“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,” it said. “The accidents of life that might touch a woman’s body should not necessarily affect her dignity and should not — no matter how hard they are — make her a perpetual victim.”

The signatories claimed they were defending sexual freedom.

Oscar-nominated Deneuve, 74, is best known internationally for playing a bored housewife who spends her afternoons as a prostitute in the Luis Bunuel classic 1967 film Belle du Jour.

Deneuve had earlier expressed annoyance with the MeToo social media campaign to shame men accused of harassing women.

“I don’t think it is the right method to change things, it is excessive,” she said last year.

“After ‘Calling out your pig’ what are we going to have: ‘Call out your whore?’” she said.

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