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French women claim #MeToo is a “witch hunt” that threatens sexual liberty

Their letter in Le Monde says men are being punished at work and in other circles “when all they did was touch a knee or try to steal a kiss.”

by Alexa Liautaud
Jan 10 2018, 10:00pm

Legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve along with 99 other women penned a letter in a French newspaper arguing the #MeToo movement has turned into a “witch hunt” that unfairly punishes men and threatens sexual liberty.

"Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not -- nor is being gentlemanly a macho attack," said the letter in Le Monde, translated by French news agency AFP.

While the letter acknowledges that the reporting surrounding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein served as a “legitimate wake-up call,” it decried “a hatred of men and sexuality,” according to CNN. The Oct. 1 New York Times story exposing sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein sparked an outpouring of stories of sexual harassment across nearly every industry.

The women argued the movement has caused “expedited justice,” essentially that men were being accused without an opportunity to respond and then being punished at work and in other circles “when all they did was touch a knee or try to steal a kiss.”

The letter met with fierce opposition from female activists in France who several months ago launched their own version of the #Metoo movement, called #Balancetonporc, or in English, “Denounce your Pig.”

In a separate op-ed in France Info, activist Caroline de Haas wrote that “Those who signed the letter deliberately conflated seduction, based on respect and pleasure, with violence.”

Marlene Schiappa, France's Junior Minister for Women's Rights, who has helped spearhead the campaign against sexual harassment in France, told France Culture radio that some of the ideas in the letter were “deeply offensive and false.”

Observers and activists have warned about a brewing backlash to the MeToo movement, and at least one thinks this letter is the “opening salvo.”

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