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Catherine Deneuve defends right of men to 'pester' women

The Oscar-nominated actress has signed an open letter warning of 'puritanism'.

An open letter signed by Catherine Deneuve said the right to 'pester' was vital to 'sexual freedom'.
An open letter signed by Catherine Deneuve said the right to 'pester' was vital to 'sexual freedom'. AP

Actress Catherine Deneuve has denounced the backlash following the Harvey Weinstein scandal and said that men should be free to "pester" women.

The Oscar-nominated film star is one of 100 prominent French women to sign an open letter criticising "denunciation" campaigns like the #MeToo movement, warning of a "Puritanism" that is fuelled by a "hatred of men".

The letter, published in French newspaper Le Monde, said: "We defend a right to pester, which is vital to sexual freedom."

The letter, also signed by actress Christine Boisson, former porn star and talk show host Brigitte Lahaie and writer Catherine Millet, said: "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.

"Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not - and nor is men being gentlemanly a chauvinist attack," it continued.

"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."

Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment and assault.
Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment and assault. AP

In the aftermath of sexual assault accusations against Weinstein, women worldwide took to social media to share their stories of sexual harassment using the #MeToo tag.

In France, the campaign was tagged #balancetonporc - meaning "squeal on your pig".

"This urge to send men to the slaughterhouse, instead of helping women be more autonomous, helps the enemies of sexual freedom," the letter added.

The man's right to "pester" a woman was an essential part of sexual freedom, they said, describing the campaign as "puritanism".

Some 30 women's rights activists slammed the letter, writing on the Franceinfotv website: "Pigs and their allies are right to worry."

"This letter, it's a bit like the awkward work colleague or annoying uncle who doesn't understand what's happening," it said.

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