After signing an open letter that condemned the #MeToo movement as a “witch hunt,” iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve has issued a statement clarifying her position on sexual harassment and assault.
“Nothing in the letter pretends that harassment has some good, otherwise I would not have signed it,” she wrote in a statement published in the newspaper Liberation, according to Variety.
The original letter, which was signed by one hundred French writers, academics and performers said, among other things, that men should not be punished for touching women’s knees or trying “to steal a kiss” while at work just because their female coworkers “did not return their attentions.”
“What began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite — we intimidate people into speaking ‘correctly’, shut down those who don’t fall into line, and those women who refused to bend are regarded as complicit and traitors,” the letter declared.
In her new statement, Deneuve repeated her discomfort with the way sexual misconduct allegations are handled publicly, and on social media. “I don’t like this aspect of our times where each feels the right to judge, arbitrate, condemn — a society where simple denunciations on social networks lead to punishment, job losses and often lynching in the media,” she said.
But the actress also emphasized that during her many years in the business, she has come to understand full well that misaligned power dynamics can lead to abuse. “What creates situations that are traumatizing and unbearable is always the power, the subordination or some sort of overpowering. The trap occurs when it becomes impossible to say no without risking one’s job, or being subjected to humiliations and degrading sarcasm,” she said.
To emphasize her longstanding support of the feminist movement, Deneuve referred to her signing of the “Manifesto of the 343 Sluts,” a 1971 document that revealed that its signatories had obtained abortions — which were illegal at the time in France. And she apologized to any victims of harassment and assault that may have been hurt by the letter in Le Monde.
“I am a free woman and I’ll always be,” she said. “I salute fraternally all the victims of odious acts who may have been offended by this public letter published in Le Monde. It is to them and them only that I present my apologies.”
Read the full story at Variety.