French acting legend Catherine Deneuve apologised on Sunday to victims of sexual assault and harassment who were hurt by an editorial published in the Le Monde newspaper criticising the #MeToo movement. Denevue was one of 100 signatories to the January 9 article.
In an open letter published in Libération, the Oscar-nominated actress maintained that she disagreed with aspects of the #MeToo movement to call out sexual harassment but saluted “all the victims of odious acts that may have felt aggrieved by this letter published in Le Monde”.
“It is to them and to them alone that I apologise,” she said.
The LeMonde editorial, signed by prominent French writers, academics and artists, claimed that the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had been followed by a “witch hunt” against men. The Le Monde article argued that the sexual freedom of men was under threat and attacked social media campaigns such as the #MeToo movement and its French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc (Call Out Your Pig) for prompting a “puritanical wave of purification.”
Responding to the criticism that she was not a feminist, Deneuve reminded readers that she was also a signatory to the Manifesto of 343 Sluts, a letter by French feminist Simone de Beauvoir arguing for reproductive rights, in which the actress had openly declared that she had had an an abortion.
“That is why I would like to say to conservatives, racists and traditionalists of all kinds who have found it strategic to support me that I am not fooled,” she wrote in her clarification letter. “They will have neither my gratitude nor my friendship.”
Deneuve, however argued that the movement had no means of ensuring that innocent men are not accused and fired.
“I do not like this characteristic of our time...when simple denunciations on social networks generate punishment, resignation and often media lynching,” she wrote. She also ostensibly referred to actor Kevin Spacey’s removal from Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World and the resignation of Peter Martins, the head of New York Ballet, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
“I do not excuse anything, [but] I do not decide on the guilt of these men because I am not qualified to,” she wrote. “And few are.”