French Feminists Blast Catherine Deneuve for Denouncing #MeToo 'Puritanism'

French Feminists are denouncing the open letter published in Le Monde on Tuesday, writing that those who signed the letter were "trivializing sexual violence."

The unsolicited letter, signed by 100 prominent French women, said that the "Me Too" movement was creating a new form of puritanism. It accused women involved of pursuing "expeditious justice," and said that it was important to give men the "indispensable freedom to offend and bother."

According to the letter, the "victims" of the "Me Too" movement have been "men who are sanctioned in their work, pushed to resign, etc., when their only wrongdoing was to touch a knee, try to steal a kiss, speak about intimate things during a professional dinner or send messages that are sexually loaded to a woman who wasn't attracted to them." The letter's signatories include Catherine Deneuve, a beloved actress who has appeared in French films since the 1960s.

Caroline De Haas — self-described militant feminist and founder of the women's organization Osez Le Feminisme — made the rounds in French media today to share her disgust at the letter, which she says sounds like it comes from "another century."

De Hass released a written response to the Le Monde piece, which was co-signed by 30 other French feminists. She wrote that "it's not a difference of degrees between flirting and harassment, but a difference in nature. Violence isn't heightened seduction."

"The signatories of the Le Monde article are deliberately confusing a relationship of seduction, based on respect and pleasure, with violence," De Haas wrote. "To mix everything is quite practical. It allows everything to go into one basket. If harassment or aggression are 'heavy flirting' then it's not too serious. The signatories are wrong."

De Haas concluded by pointing out that the lines are always much more clear from far away. "Many of the women [who signed the Le Monde piece] are often quick to denounce sexism when it comes from men in working-class neighborhoods," she wrote, "but a hand on the a-- when it's put there by men of their own milieu, according to them, falls under the 'right to importune.' "


American women and prominent figures in the "Me Too" movement also spoke up against the letter.