Published Jan 15, 2018Last week, French actress Catherine Deneuve signed an open letter criticizing the #MeToo movement and defending men's "freedom to pester" women. Following an outpouring of public backlash, Deneuve has now clarified her stance and offered an apology to victims of sexual violence.
In a new personal statement published in French paper Liberation today, Deneuve expanded on her own views.
"I have been an actress since I was 17 years old. I could obviously say that I've often been a witness of situations that were more than indelicate, or some that I know from other actresses about filmmakers who abused cowardly of their power," she wrote. "What creates situations that are traumatizing and unbearable is always the power, the subordination or some sort of overpowering. The trap occurs when it becomes impossible to say no without risking one's job, or being subjected to humiliations and degrading sarcasm."
She went on to say that the solution to such a power imbalance lies in educating both boys and girls from an early age, as well as implementing "protocols in companies allowing for legal pursuits to be immediately launched in case of harassment."
She denounced a number of other women who have publicly spoken up in support of last week's letter, including Brigitte Lahaie, who claimed in a TV interview that some women enjoy being raped. Deneuve countered by writing, "Saying on a TV channel that one can have an orgasm during a rape is worse than spitting on the face of all those women who have been victim of this crime."
She also issued an apology to the victims of sexual violence and to those women who were offended by the open letter.
Deneuve did, however, continue to condemn the public trial of accused abusers. She said that she doesn't support "a society where simple denunciations on social networks lead to punishment, job losses and often lynching in the media."
She also defended her decision to sign the letter in the first place, claiming that, "Nothing in the letter pretends that harassment has some good, otherwise I would not have signed it."
The initial letter — published in Le Monde — denounced the recent movement against sexual harassers as puritanical, and claimed that it was an affront to "sexual freedom."
It also downplayed the effects of sexual harassment, stating: "Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense, nor is gallantry macho aggression."
More than 100 women attached their signatures to the letter.