A letter signed by 100 French women speaking out against the #MeToo movement hit the presses of Le Monde last week. In it, the women denounced the movement as a “witch hunt” and claimed it went as far as to ruin the lives of men. “Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss,” it read.
Included among the endorsers was actress Catherine Deneuve, who had previously spoken out against #MeToo and the French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc. Following backlash, Deneuve decided to send her own letter to the Libération, which published Sunday, clarifying that she supports survivors of rape. “I fraternally salute all women victims of odious acts who may have felt aggrieved by the letter in Le Monde,” she wrote. “It is to them, and them alone, that I apologize.”
The Le Monde letter that the #MeToo movement seemed to conflate the lines between flirtation and assault. In comparison to the Time's Up letter published in the New York Times at the beginning of January, the letter felt tone deaf and regurgitated age-old arguments.
Deneuve claimed in her new letter that she disagrees with some of the points her fellow signatories made. “Yes, I signed this petition, and yet it seems to me absolutely necessary today to emphasize my disagreement with the way some petitioners individually claim the right to spread themselves across the media, distorting the very spirit of this text,” she wrote.
As Jezebel points out, the letter highlights a cultural divide similar to the divide in the U.S. Currently, France’s President Emmanuel Macron is working toward criminalizing cat calling and changing the age of consent, which is currently 15. Deneuve also defended her position as a feminist by citing a letter she wrote in 1971, where she spoke about her abortion at a time when they were not legal. “I would like to say to conservatives, racists and traditionalists of all kinds who have found it strategic to support me that I am not fooled,” she said. “They will have neither my gratitude nor my friendship — on the contrary.”