Catherine Deneuve says the #MeToo movement has turned into a 'witch hunt'

In an open letter published in Le Monde, 100 French female artists warn of a 'wave of purification'

In an open letter published in Le Monde, 100 French female artists warn of a 'wave of purification'

Actress Catherine Deneuve was one of 100 female writers, performers and academics to call out the #MeToo movement for being too 'puritanical.' (Francois Mori/Associated Press)

The #MeToo movement has turned into a "witch hunt," claims Catherine Deneuve and some 100 other French female writers, performers and academics in an open letter published in Le Monde Tuesday.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and a Golden Globes ceremony that saw Hollywood rallying behind #Timesup, a movement to take action on sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace, the open letter raises issues that it is unleashing a "puritanical... wave of purification."

The letter also brings up the French #MeToo equivalent, #BalanceTonPorc ("Call out your pig"), which Deneuve, best known for her work with directors such as Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut and Roman Polanski, has been critical of in the past. "After 'calling out your pig' what are we going to have, 'call out your whore'?" she said last year, in reference to the #MeToo hashtag.

The letter clearly condemns rape, but also draws a line. "Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not – nor is men being gentlemanly a macho attack," read the letter, translated from French. "Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone's knee or try to steal a kiss."

Other signatories on the letter include Catherine Millet, author of the 2002 bestseller The Sexual Life of Catherine M.; actress Ingrid Caven; publisher Joëlle Losfeld; actress and filmmaker Brigitte Jaques-Wajeman; actress Christine Boisson; and former porn film actress Brigitte Lahaie.

"As women we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say no to a sexual proposition is not without the freedom to importune," read the letter, which was published in French and is behind a paywall. Here are a few more excerpts:

"Above all, we are conscious that the human being is not monolithic: a woman can in the same day lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man without being a 'slut' nor a vile accomplice of the patriarchy. She can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but not feel forever traumatized by a rub on the subway, even if it's considered a crime. She can even see it as the expression of a great sexual misery, or a non-event."

"The purifying wave seems to know no limit… We censor an Egon Schiele nude on a poster… we seek the cancellation of a retrospective of Roman Polanski's works… an academic finds Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blow-Up 'misogynistic' and 'unacceptable.'"

"Already, publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less 'sexist,' to speak of sexuality and love with less disproportion or even to make it so that 'trauma experienced by the female characters' is made more obvious."

— Jesse Kinos-Goodin