The Golden Globes seemed like a sign that the end of tolerance for sexual misconduct was on the horizon. But in a letter to Le Monde, one of the largest newspapers in France, 100 French women writers, performers, and academics decided to cling to the past and defend the most powerful and sheltered group in history: men.
This new letter feels like a counter to the recent #TimesUp ads taken out in The New York Times on January 1. In those ads, over 300 actresses, writers, and producers endorsed a letter speaking out against systematic sexual disenfranchisement in the entertainment industry and beyond.
The endorsers of the French letter are slamming the wave of sexual harassment and abuse allegations following the Harvey Weinstein revelations in October. As IndieWire points out, the authors argue that the allegations have resulted a “witch hunt” against men. “Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not—nor is men being gentlemanly a macho attack,” the letter reads. “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.”
The argument is one that has played out time and time again since #MeToo resurfaced on Twitter last fall. Women and men, on both sides of the political aisle (note Le Monde is considered a liberal publication) continue to ask: what about the good guys? In response to the "shitty media men" list that explosively entered the conversation in October, Outline editor Leah Finnegan addressed that concern poignantly. “The violent experiences of likely hundreds of women at the hands of men who have gone unpunished by our pathetic justice system and other various pathetic systems outweigh the risk of damaging a man's ‘reputation,’” Finnegan wrote.
According to the Guardian, the women, including actress Catherine Deneuve and author Catherine Millet, are outspoken critics of the #MeToo and French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc movements (in English that means “expose your pig,” which is quite brilliant). “I don’t think it is the right method to change things, it is excessive,” Deneuve said last year, referring to the #MeToo hashtag. “After ‘calling out your pig’ what are we going to have, ‘call our your whore'?”
Read more of the translated letter at the Guardian.