“Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense [sic], nor is gallantry macho aggression.”
That was just one line from an open letter signed by 100 French women, including the likes of Catherine Millet, Ingrid Caven and Catherine Deneuve, that criticised the #MeToo movement and warned about a new “puritanism” sparked by recent sexual harassment allegations, reports CNN.
Among the women were writers, performers, academics and businesswomen who all denounced a “hatred of men and sexuality”:
Men’s “freedom to pester” is “indispensable to sexual freedom,” they wrote.
They also argued that while the Harvey Weinstein scandal had led to a “legitimate wake-up call to the sexual violence exercised against women,” the “fever” of publicly denouncing abusers “really only serves the enemies of sexual freedom”:
To make matters worse, they wrote, “the movement chains women to the status of the eternal victim” by framing them as “poor little things who are dominated by demon phallocrats.”
Not only that, but the movement has spawned a wave of hatred toward the accused, they said, who are mentioned in the same breath as sexual aggressors without being given the chance to defend themselves.
This new type of “swift justice” has already claimed its victims, they wrote, citing men forced to resign “when all they did wrong was touch a knee.”
Published on Tuesday in French newspaper Le Monde, it should be of no surprise, then, that what they had to say did not go down with activists:
A group of around 30 activists, led by prominent feminist Caroline De Haas, responded on Wednesday with a scathing critique…
They accused the signatories of deliberately mixing “seduction, based on respect and pleasure, with violence.”
“Sexual violence is not ‘intensified flirting,'” they wrote. “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 also criticized the letter’s claim that the movement risks going “too far,” and the suggestion that it’s the responsibility of women to protect themselves from intimidation.
“When will we ask the question about men’s responsibility to not rape or abuse?” they wrote, describing the letter as “a bit like the annoying colleague or the tiring uncle who doesn’t really understand what’s going on around him.”
In France, rather than using #MeToo, activists replaced with hashtag with #BalanceTonPorc – or “rat on your pig”.
While it’s all fun and games denouncing such a movement, just because you don’t feel victimised doesn’t mean you should be taking that away from someone else.
Unsolicited sexual attention of any kind is not lekker, chaps.
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