Celebrated French actress Catherine Deneuve has signed an open letter denouncing the #MeToo anti-harassment movement as a "witch-hunt" that is unfairly punishing men.
"Rape is a crime," the letter, published in French newspaper Le Monde Tuesday, reads. "But flirting insistently or clumsily isn't a crime, and chivalry is not a machismo aggression." The letter further claims that men should have the "indispensable freedom to offend and bother" women as they please.
The letter, which was signed by a total of 100 female French writers, performers and academics, also accuses the #MeToo movement of creating an environment that is unfair to men, "who are sanctioned in their work, pushed to resign, etc., when their only wrongdoing was to touch a knee, try to steal a kiss, speak about intimate things during a professional dinner or send messages that are sexually loaded to a woman who wasn't attracted to them."
In addition to #MeToo, the letter also claims its French equivalent, #BalanceTonPorc (call out your pig), for pushing society toward a more "puritanical" climate.
"What began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite – we intimidate people into speaking 'correctly,' shout down those who don't fall into line, and those women who refused to bend [to the new realities] are regarded as complicit and traitors," the letter states, adding that men should be "free to hit on" women.
Critics of the letter and its supporters were quick to denounce its contents. Italian actress Asia Argento, one of the women who has come forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, tweeted Tuesday, "Deneuve and other women tell the world how their interiorized misogyny has lobotomized them to the point of no return."
This is not the first time that Deneuve has voiced her disdain for the #MeToo movement. Last fall, the cinema icon spoke out against the movement, calling the viral social media moment "excessive."
"I don't think it is the right method to change things, it is excessive," she said at the time. "After 'calling out your pig,' what are we going to have, 'call out your whore'?"