Legendary screen actress Catherine Deneuve led 100 French women, including other actresses, performers, writers, directors, and behind-the-scenes workers, in an open letter calling out the #MeToo movement for being an affront to sexual freedom.
In the letter, posted to the French news site, Le Monde, Deneuve accused radical feminists generally, and Hollywood feminists specifically, of adopting a prudish approach to sexual interactions, and warned of a "new Puritanism" threatening to take hold of society.
Deneuve pointed out that both rape and sexual harassment are already crimes, and by making any kind of flirty approach to a woman an automatic case of impropriety, women risk neutering men. "Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense, nor is gallantry macho aggression," the women wrote.
Without the "freedom to pester," the French women point out, interactions between the two sexes suddenly devolve into a "hatred of men and sexuality" that threatens the very nature of the sexual revolution. The women say they consider flirty behavior to be "indispensable to sexual freedom."
Deneuve and the letter's signatories may be the first prominent entertainment industry women to call out the #MeToo movement (or, as its known in France the #BalanceTonPorc — "squeal on your pig" — movement) for taking the fight against sexual violence a step too far, warning that a sexual harassment witch hunt can quickly turn from a valuable asset in the fight for equality to a terrifying blacklist designed to end all interaction between men and women.
Radical feminists in France, of course, fought back, accusing Deneuve of lumping sexual violence together with mutually desired, consensual sexual interaction.
"Sexual violence is not 'intensified flirting,'" they wrote in their own open letter published to France Info. "One means treating the other as your equal, respecting their desires, whatever they may be. The other is treating them as an object at your disposal, paying no attention to their own desires, or their consent."
They accused Deneuve and her colleagues of being out of touch with "modern" notions of relationships and interactions and of going "too far" in criticizing victims, whom they claim will now be less likely to come forward with accusations of abuse.
One French feminist even seemed to redefine feminism altogether in response to Deneueve's letter claiming that "feminism is not about protecting sexual liberation but about protecting women."
That might be news to quite a few feminists who spent the last several decades fighting for the sexual liberation of women.