Catherine Millet

Frenchwomen Criticize #MeToo Movement in Open Letter

Valeriya Safronova of the New York Times reports that actress Catherine Deneuve, actress and singer Ingrid Caven, and art critic Catherine Millet are among more than one hundred Frenchwomen from the fields of entertainment, journalism, science, and the arts who appear as signatories on an open letter in the newspaper Le Monde, criticizing the #MeToo movement that grew in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal (the film producer has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by more than fifty women within the film and fashion industries). In France, the hashtag materialized as #Balancetonporc, or “Expose Your Pig.”

The signatories claim that the movement, which calls out men on social media accused of sexual misconduct, has created a “totalitarian climate,” where men are presumed guilty before they can prove themselves innocent. “Rape is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression,” begins the letter, which was published on January 8. “This expedited justice already has its victims, men prevented from practicing their profession as punishment, forced to resign, etc., while the only thing they did wrong was touching a knee, trying to steal a kiss, or speaking about ‘intimate’ things at a work dinner, or sending messages with sexual connotations to a woman whose feelings were not mutual.”

The letter claims that #MeToo and #Balancetonporc embolden “the enemies of sexual freedom” and those who seem to believe that women are “‘separate’ beings, children with the appearance of adults, demanding to be protected.” The letter isn’t entirely clear on what counts as a sexual transgression and what doesn’t. But those who signed are against what they see as a growing culture of self-victimization, asking women to understand that “Accidents that can affect a woman’s body do not necessarily affect her dignity . . . Because we are not reducible to our bodies. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risks and responsibilities.”