French actress Catherine Deneuve has signed an open letter calling Hollywood’s response to the recent wave of sexual harassment scandals a “witch-hunt” against men.
The letter, signed by nearly 100 actresses, writers, and academics and published in the French newspaper Le Monde, slams the #MeToo anti-harassment movement for forcing a “wave of purification.”
“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, according to The Guardian. “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.”
Along with Denueve, author Catherine Millet was among the list of people to sign the letter.
The letter claims that the ongoing sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood are threatening “sexual liberty” and taking on a “hatred of men” mentality.
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“What began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite – we intimidate people into speaking ‘correctly’, shout down those who don’t fall into line, and those women who refused to bend [to the new realities] are regarded as complicit and traitors,” the letter reads. “Instead of helping women this frenzy to send these (male chauvinist) ‘pigs’ to the abattoir actually helps the enemies of sexual liberty – religious extremists and the worst sort of reactionaries.”
The letter insisted women are “sufficiently aware that the sexual urge is by its nature wild and aggressive. But we are also clear-eyed enough not to confuse an awkward attempt to pick someone up with a sexual attack.”
The controversial letter comes as the Time’s Up movement continues to grow. With more than 300 figures in the entertainment industry signed on (including Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera and Nicole Kidman), the initiative aims to fight sexual harassment, assault and inequality for women in all kinds of workplaces.
To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.
It has raised more than $15 million for a legal defense fund for people who have experienced workplace harassment, and featured prominently at Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony.