Response to French Letter Denouncing #MeToo Shows a Sharp Divide

The letter, signed by women coming from the entertainment, publishing along with academic fields, argued in which supporters of the #MeToo movement along that has a French counterpart have gone too far by publicly prosecuting private experiences along with in which they have created a totalitarian climate.

“Rape is actually a crime,” the letter said. “although insistent or clumsy flirting is actually not a crime, nor is actually gallantry a chauvinist aggression.’’

In a line in which drew particular outrage, the letter encouraged women “not to feel forever traumatized” by what the writers dismissed as relatively minor forms of sexual harassment. They cited, as an example, men who masturbate by rubbing themselves against women on buses or subways.

They said women could “consider the item as the expression of a great sexual misery, or even as a nonevent.”

Many women said they were offended by the comment.

“When I was 19, on the bus, a guy ejaculated on my coat,” Nadia Daam, a French journalist, wrote on Twitter, where dozens of women recounted abusive experiences in public spaces.

“I don’t know if the item was a ‘nonevent,’ or the expression of ‘sexual misery,’” Ms. Daam continued. “although I threw my coat away along with didn’t take the bus For just two years.”

Ms. Daam’s tweets were among the many incredulous or furious reactions to the letter. Many women found its arguments antiquated along with disingenuous.

Caroline De Haas was among the French feminists who wrote in which the letter reminded them of “the embarrassing colleague or the tiresome uncle who doesn’t understand what is actually happening.’’

Others, however, welcomed the letter as a necessary pushback against what they view as a brand of radical feminism imported coming from the different side of the Atlantic.

Sarah Chiche, a psychoanalyst along with writer who was one of the letter’s main authors, accused the #MeToo movement of promoting an ideology “in which values victimization.” She also said in an email in which the movement was showing signs of excess.

“Men whose only fault was sending a slightly salacious text message or email were being treated, on social networks, exactly the same way as sexual criminals, like rapists,” she said.

The letter was the latest sign in which the global outcry against sexual misconduct along with sexual violence inside wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations is actually meeting cultural resistance in France.

although there are indications, too, in which some of the resistance is actually being chipped away along with in which French attitudes toward gender relations along with workplace harassment have shifted.

Referring to the signers along with supporters of the public letter, Geneviève Fraisse, a French philosopher who writes about feminist thought, said, “They are inside minority, although they had not understood in which they were inside minority.’’


Women gathered for a rally in Marseille, southern France, last October, to denounce harassment along with sexual violence.

Franck Pennant/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

These views were majority opinions “when D.S.K. happened,” she added, referring to the sexual assault scandal in which engulfed Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, when he was managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

French newspapers have been awash with commentary supporting or criticizing the letter. Le Monde splashed three op-ed essays along with an interview across its opinion pages on Thursday, under the tag “The fractures of feminism.”

Libération ran photos on its front page of Ms. Deneuve along with two different women who endorsed the letter, with the headline: “Sexual freedom threatened, actually?”

An agent for Ms. Deneuve said Thursday in which she did not want to comment further.

Ten years ago, “an op-ed like in which one might have had a lot more support in France,” Ms. De Haas said in a telephone interview.

The French equivalent to the #MeToo movement, known as #BalanceTonPorc (which translates as #ExposeYourPig), “has had consequences in which I think are very profound,” she said.

The debate even reached the highest levels of French government. Marlène Schiappa, France’s junior minister for gender equality, called the letter a potpourri of ideas, some of which were “not uninteresting,” while others were “profoundly shocking.”

“We have immense difficulty convincing young women in which when a man rubs his genitals against a woman inside métro without her consent, the item is actually an act of sexual assault in which can lead to three years in prison along that has a 75,000 euro fine,” she told France Culture radio on Wednesday.

Ms. Schiappa is actually working on legislation the government hopes to get approved This specific year in which might create fines for street harassment along with catcalling.

although Christophe Castaner, a colleague of Ms. Schiappa’s inside government, told France Info radio in which the letter made valid points about the risks of a society “where some words are banned, where humor is actually banned, where schoolboy jokes can be banned.”

“I’m always afraid of the standardization of attitudes, of a unique product of behaving, of a sort of Americanization in which we know about, where a man today can never ride an elevator that has a woman,” said Mr. Castaner, who is actually also the head of La République en Marche, the centrist party of President Emmanuel Macron.

His view of the United States as a country with an absurdly puritanical streak is actually not completely new.

Supporters of #MeToo insist, though, in which critics like Mr. Castaner, by exaggerating the possibility of a more repressive culture, diminish the significance of the harm inflicted on women by abusive men.

“This specific supposed Americanization of relationships is actually something in which anti-feminists were already warning against 30 years ago,” said Ms. Fraisse, the philosopher.

Eric Brion, the former head of a French television channel, was accused by a journalist in October of having sent her a salacious along with disrespectful text message.

She then created the #BalanceTon Porc movement.

“Several weeks after the publication of This specific much talked about hashtag, like many others, I have become aware of the scale of the work in which is actually ahead of us,” Mr. Brion wrote in an op-ed in Le Monde in December, acknowledging along with apologizing for the text.

although he also noted in which his text had little to do with the accusations against Mr. Weinstein.

“I am simply asking for the right to truth along with to nuance,” Mr. Brion said.

Michelle Perrot, a prominent specialist of women’s history at the Université Paris Diderot, said in an interview with Le Monde on Thursday in which she thought the letter raised valid points, mainly about the risk of “an insidious moral order” in which might censor creativity along with desire inside name of the protection of women.

although she said in which accusing the #MeToo movement of confining women to the role of victim was misguided.

“On the contrary, This specific protest, both individual along with collective, makes them actors who refuse along with resist a pressure, a domination in which they do not want,” she said.

the item is actually unclear where the majority of French men along with women stand on these issues. Ms. De Haas said she thought the letter reflected “stereotypes in which are held by many people in France.”

although Marilyn Baldeck, a legal professional who trains employees about sexual harassment inside workplace, said in which “when we give these people concrete examples of sexual harassment, they tend to change their minds along with acknowledge how harmful some situations can be.”

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