Men should be ‘free to hit on women’, Catherine Deneuve declares

French actress Catherine Deneuve has denounced social media movement #MeToo and states that men have the right to hit on women.

The actress warns that trends like these lead to a new puritanism in an open letter; signed by Deneuve and 100 other acclaimed writers, actresses, and academics. It comes soon after the Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017, where he was accused of sexually assaulting numerous women.

The letter, published in newspaper Le Monde on Tuesday, presents the argument that openly ‘shaming’ men is not supporting women. As well as stating that hashtags like #MeToo and #Balancetonporc (Call out your pig) have gone too far.

They claim: “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.”

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

Collectively they acknowledge: “Rape is a crime. But trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not – and nor is being gentlemanly a chauvinist attack.”

People have been flocking to #MeToo to share their experience of sexual harassment and has been a key detail in exposing sexual abuse. Deneuve has spoken out on social media before about the hashtag, saying: “I don’t think it is the right method to change things, it is excessive.”

Communications and Administration Assistant of Scotland’s feminist organisation Engender, Maxine Blane gave her opinion on Deneuve’s remarks.

She said: “Statements like these are damaging and miss the point almost spectacularly. The point is that women have the right to feel safe and respected in their work environments, and these rights need to be enforced and protected. The slew of harassment, microaggressions, and abuse highlighted by the #MeToo movement indicates that this is manifestly not the case for women all over the world.”

The organisation is in support of the #MeToo movement, seeing it as a leap forward for equality by bringing the abuses to light.

“Since its inception a decade ago, the #MeToo movement has gained traction and has provided an arena to amplify women’s voices on pervasive issues of sexual harassment and abuse.  While it is not women’s jobs to highlight and combat these issues, it is undeniable that initiatives like #MeToo and others can be a powerful tool to raise awareness.

“The long-term effects of the #MeToo movement are not yet evident, but initiatives like the recently launched Times Up legal fund indicate that the movement has provided essential momentum for projects and initiatives that will improve women’s lives and further the feminist cause.”

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