Before today you may not have heard of French actress Catherine Deneuve, but the star of movies like Belle de Jour, Indochine, and The Hunger has set the internet on fire with her comments about the #MeToo movement. Deneuve has enraged many by denouncing the #MeToo movement in French newspaper Le Monde. Deneuve was one of the signatories of an open letter that branded the #MeToo movement as a “puritanical witch hunt” and claimed that men should be free to hit on women.
The #MeToo movement took the internet by storm in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. When the allegations against Weinstein emerged celebrities lined up to share their experiences of sexual harassment, assault, and rape in Hollywood and elsewhere. The #MeToo movement caught the wave of public revulsion, and women across the world used the #MeToo hashtag to share their experiences of sexual harassment in everyday life. Catherine Deneuve and the other signatories claim that the movement has created an atmosphere that is unfair to men.
As reported by NME, Deneuve claims that it is unfair for men to be forced to resign from powerful positions 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.” Deneuve’s open letter goes on to claim that the #MeToo movement goes beyond the abuse of power “taking on a hatred of men and of sexuality.”
As you would expect Deneuve’s comments have not gone down well in some quarters. Writing in the Guardian, Van Badham lashed out at Deneuve’s comments, reminding her that the incidents reported by both women and men “across the world have included acts of sexual violence, abuse, assault, entrapment, harassment, coercion, blackmail, public sexual humiliation.”
Badham reminds Catherine Deneuve that the #MeToo movement is about recognizing peoples right to enjoy sexual relations on their own terms, free from abuse or exploitation by those in powerful positions.
Deneuve’s critics include Italian actress Asia Argento, one of those who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Argento tweeted that Catherine Deneuve and the other French women who signed the open letter have been “lobotomized to the point of no return” by internalized misogyny.
Other Twitter users were not quite so kind to Catherine Deneuve, one said that Deneuve “might have a very different opinion about sexual harassment if she weren’t an extraordinarily beautiful, very rich white woman living in a bubble of privilege.”
Author Jennifer Wright simply said, “f**k you Catherine Deneuve, we are going to ask men to treat you with kindness and respect whether you like it or not.”