Wednesday 17 January 2018

Deneuve comments about men's 'right to seduce' spark fury

French actress Catherine Deneuve. Photo: REUTERS
French actress Catherine Deneuve. Photo: REUTERS

Sylvie Corbett

An open letter signed by film star Catherine Deneuve and dozens of other French women about men being unfairly targeted by sexual misconduct claims has led to a backlash in the French press and on social media.

In the letter, published in 'Le Monde' newspaper, Deneuve and about 100 actresses, writers, scholars and artists argued that the "legitimate protest against sexual violence" stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal has gone too far and threatens hard-won sexual freedoms. They said men should be free to 'hit on' women and advocated against "puritanism."

Yesterday, French women's rights activists denounced the letter as "a bit like the awkward work colleague or annoying uncle who doesn't understand what's happening."

The activists, including feminist Caroline De Haas, wrote on the Franceinfotv website that Deneuve and other signatories are making sexual violence appear "normal."

Marlene Schiappa, France's junior minister for women's rights, told France Culture radio: "There are in this open letter some things that are deeply offensive and false."

The letter, signed by Deneuve, said some women may see being rubbed against by a man in the metro as an expression of "sexual deprivation" or a "non-event."

Schiappa countered that "it's dangerous to say such things," and insisted that such an act constituted sexual assault punishable with up to three years in prison and a €75,000 fine.

Writer Abnousse Shalmani, who also signed the letter, said she was surprised by the "extremely violent reactions" to it.

"I consider myself to be a grown up. I am capable of receiving a sexual proposition and even more capable of saying no", she said on Europe 1 radio.

Irish Independent

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