Men should be 'free to hit on' women, 100 prominent female French creatives say

Writers, performers and academics warn of a new ‘puritanism’

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 10 January 2018 10:54 GMT
Men should be 'free to hit on' women, 100 prominent female French artists say

Oscar-nominated French actor Catherine Deneuve is leading a group of 100 prominent women with an alternative take on the scandal that started with Harvey Weinstein before flooding Hollywood and beyond; specifically, how the allegations vary in nature and severity.

In an open letter published in France’s Le Monde newspaper on Tuesday, 100 well-known female French writers, performers and academics, who co-signed the letter, said:

“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.

“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not – and nor is men being gentlemanly a chauvinist attack.”

Addressing the #MeToo social media campaign and the French equivalent, #BalanceTonPorc (literally, “call out your pig”), the women argue that what started out as a “legitimate protest against the sexual violence that women are subject to, particularly in their professional lives” has become a “witch-hunt” and led to a “puritanical wave of purification”.

The liberty to seduce and importune is essential.

“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 continues.

The letter was published a day after the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony concluded, at which Hollywood’s reckoning was the focus. “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen,” was host Seth Meyers’ opening line.

The signatories say they are trying to defend sexual freedom, insisting “the liberty to seduce and importune is essential”.

“Instead of helping women, this frenzy to send these ‘pigs’ to the abattoir actually helps the enemies of sexual liberty – religious extremists and the worst sort of reactionaries.

“As women, we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality.”

“[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.”

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