A collective of 100 women have published a letter in the French publication Le Monde rejecting the “Puritanism” of the #MeToo movement
Influential women, including actress Catherine Denevue, writer and curator Catherine Millet and actress Ingrid Caven, voiced their concern that men accused of sexual assault were being sent like “pigs to the slaughter” without proper oversight.
“Rape is a crime,” the letter begins. “But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is chivalry a machismo aggression.”
French actress Catherine Deneuve. Photo: AP
The group of actresses, writers, researchers and journalists have publicly lamented that men whose only crime was “to have touched one knee, tried to steal a kiss [or] talked about “intimate” things at a business dinner,” were now being made “victims”.
“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.”
The letter was published the day of the Golden Globes; where influential actresses, such as Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep, spearheaded a campaign to address sexual harassment on a wider scale. Called, Time’s Up, and aimed at creating greater workplace equality and safety, men and women wore black on the red carpet to call for greater awareness.
But, according to the letter, signed by the French women, the idea of promoting awareness of sexual harassment, and calling out men, infantalises women. It “binds” women to “the status of eternal victims”, rendering them “poor little things”.
Women protest against gender-based and sexual violence in Paris last year. Photo: AAP
“[A woman] can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but not feel traumatised forever by a rub on the subway, even if it is considered a crime.”
This rejection of “puritanism” that (perceived as Americanised) in sexual relations is not a new concept to the French.
France made headlines in 2017 for bringing in fines for ‘aggressive’ cat calling, with President Emmanual Macron taking steps towards gender equality measures. But, as reported by AFR, Macron said he did not want France to become a country of “denunciation” where “each relationship between men and women is suspicious.”
“We are not a puritan society”.
The letter has received a mixed reaction.
Critics include French senator and feminist, Laurence Rossignol, who has said that their “strange anxiety to no longer exist without the gaze and desire of men” has led them to write “nonsense”.
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