Catherine Deneuve and 100+ Women From The French Film Industry Slam Post-Wenstein Witch Hunt, #MeToo Movement, As "Attack on Sexual Freedom."

Deneuve, Millet, Lahaie… ces femmes qui défendent

The French want to tell the world that the #MeToo movement is attacking sexual freedom. At least that's what a group of more than 100 "prominent French women," from the industry and beyond, are saying, making the argument that "clumsy flirting" is not "macho aggression." Writer/clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst  Sarah Chiche wrote the text that was signed on by many prominent women from Catherine Deneuve to Catherine Robbe-Grillet. Insisting on "la liberte d'importuner," the letter decries a new Puritanism being unleashed on the world.

This open letter published in "Le Monde" today not only mentions "puritanism," but also insists that “Rape is a crime,” and that “Insistently or awkwardly hitting on someone is not,” additionally blaming the #MeToo campaign for “expeditious justice” to men who “may have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss” or “spoken of ‘intimate’ things during a professional dinner.” The women further elaborate that they are trying to defend "sexual freedom.”

Other excerpts from the "manifesto" read as follows:

"Men have 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

"Instead of helping women, this frenzy to send these (male chauvinist) 'pigs' to the abattoir actually helps the enemies of sexual liberty -- religious extremists and the worst sort of reactionaries," the collective of women who signed the letter said.

"As women we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power, takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality."

“As women, we don’t recognize ourselves in this feminism that, beyond the denunciation of abuses of power, takes the face of a hatred of men and sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say no to a sexual proposition is not without the freedom to importune. And we consider that one must know how to respond to this freedom to annoy other than by closing ourselves off in the role of the prey.”

“The purifying wave seems to know no limit… We censor an Egon Schiele nude on a poster… we seek the cancellation of a retrospective of Roman Polanski’s works… an academic finds Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up ‘misogynistic’ and ‘unacceptable.’”

“Already, publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less ‘sexist,’ to speak of sexuality and love with less disproportion or even to make it so that ‘trauma experienced by the female characters’ is made more obvious.”

“Above all, we are conscious that the human being is not monolithic: a woman can in the same day lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man without being a ‘slut’ nor a vile accomplice of the patriarchy. She can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but not feel forever traumatized by a rub on the subway, even if it’s considered a crime. She can even see it as the expression of a great sexual misery, or a non-event.”

The #MeToo campaign, the group says, has led to “denunciations and public accusations of people who, without giving them the possibility of responding or defending themselves, have been placed on exactly the same level as sex offenders. This expeditious justice already has its victims, men sanctioned in their job functions, forced to resign, etc, while their only wrong is to have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss, spoken of ‘intimate’ things during a professional dinner or to have sent sexually suggestive messages to a woman whose attraction was not reciprocal.”

This has led to a “fever to send the ‘pigs’ to the slaughter,” which the opinion piece contends is “far from helping women to empower themselves,” and rather “serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom.”

That's all fine and dandy, but the reality of it is that for many young women, trying to make it in the industry by having to sleep with dirty pigs to get cast, being a normalcy, that is a problem that shouldn't just be condemned at all costs, but gotten rid of asap. Also, just because some women are willing to sell themselves to get ahead, shouldn't mean that powerful rich men should get to abuse their power over others.  However, there’s nothing in the statement that necessarily mentions that kind of behavior. These women are somewhat right, that many men are now afraid to talk to or even look at women as the #MeToo movement is in full swing. It's a catch-22 kind of situation. They even further acknowledge that “as a result of the Weinstein affair there has been a legitimate raising of awareness of sexual violence against women,” notably in the workplace. “This was necessary,” they say. “But this liberation of speech is turning on itself: People are being intimidated to speak in the right way or to stay silent on what makes them angry. Those who refuse to comply with such injunctions are looked upon as traitors, accomplices!”

The constant bickering happening about this topic on social media is truly revealing, fascinating and opens up a lot of questions about what is right and what is wrong. The French always seem to be such polarizing and interesting figures when it comes to sexuality and male/female relations and this latest manifesto is no exception.

[The Local]