'Stealing a kiss' was never, ever appropriate
Veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve opened up a fresh debate on the issue of sexual harassment and the #metoo campaign which has attracted much attention following a swathe of Hollywood scandals in recent months.
In a letter published in Le Monde, Deneuve and a group of her fellow French women shared the view that while rape is a crime, men trying to seduce women is not, and that too many men have been the subjects of witch-hunts because of this movement. It is disappointing to hear anyone, male or female dismiss the issue of sexual harassment in this way.
While Deneuve is right, that flirting or chatting up a woman, even persistently, is not illegal, it is not acceptable if such behaviour is not welcome. The basis of the campaign is to empower victims who may have been too frightened or intimated, to come out and report their abusers.
It is of course, about the crimes that were committed, but it is also about putting an end to inappropriate behaviour, and about making a clear distinction about what it and what is not acceptable.
There is no way that 'persistently hitting on a woman' can be defended or condoned and when a well known personality such as Deneuve makes this claim, it muddies the waters somewhat.
She is, of course entitled to her opinion, but I wonder how those who have been victim to less that appropriate behaviour feel about it being dismissed as men being men.
The letter claimed to defend sexual freedom but in fact, it has just defended the very thing that people all over the world have been trying to stamp out.
The signatories make the point that this campaign has undoubtedly ruined the careers of men who have never abused or violated a woman, and that trial by social media can be a very dangerous thing. I agree with this, and I think that abusers should be made accountable in a court of law, but because in Hollywood, particularly nobody was speaking out, perhaps victims felt strength in numbers and after a few brave voices spoke out, it had a ripple effect.
By Deneuve and her supporters defending those who 'touch a knee or try to steal a kiss' they are suggesting that the latter is acceptable and that women should not be bothered by this, when the reality is that for far too long they have been putting up with it and finally are no longer willing to.