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Catherine Deneuve Apologizes to Sexual Assault Victims, Explains Public Letter

Less than a week after signing a public letter blaming the #MeToo anti-harassment movement for spurring puritanism and unfair punishment of men, French star Catherine Deneuve has written a long statement addressing the backlash provoked by the letter and apologized to victims of “odious acts.”

In her personal statement, published in national newspaper Liberation on Monday, Deneuve sought to bring some nuance to the public letter which was signed by 100 women and appeared in Le Monde last Tuesday. That letter contended that the #MeToo movement had led to a puritan crackdown on sexual behavior and that men had a right to offend and bother women.

“I have been an actress since I was 17 years old. I could obviously say that I’ve often been a witness of situations that were more than indelicate, or some that I know from other actresses about filmmakers who cravenly abused their power,” Deneuve wrote in her new statement.

“What creates situations that are traumatizing and unbearable is always the power, the subordination or some sort of overpowering. The trap occurs when it becomes impossible to say no without risking one’s job, or being subjected to humiliations and degrading sarcasm,” the statement said.

Deneuve said she believed the solution would come from educating “our boys as well as our girls.” She also said the solution would arise “eventually from protocols in companies allowing for legal pursuits to be immediately launched in case of harassement. I believe in justice.”

Deneuve, however, insisted on the pertinence of one aspect of last week’s public letter, which criticized the #MeToo anti-harassment movement for leading to a campaign of public denunciation and summary justice fueled by the media.

“I don’t like this aspect of our times where each feels the right to judge, arbitrate, condemn – a society where simple denunciations on social networks lead to punishment, job losses and often lynching in the media.”

Deneuve also said she did not endorse some of the women who signed the public letter and who went on to make shocking declarations in TV interviews. Referring to actress Brigitte Lahaie, who said last week in a TV interview that a woman could have an orgasm during a rape, Deneuve said that “saying on a TV channel that one can have an orgasm during a rape is worse than spitting on the face of all those women who have been victim of this crime.”

Deneuve added: “Nothing in the letter pretends that harassment has some good, otherwise I would not have signed it.”

The actress also addressed criticism over the fact that she wasn’t a feminist champion. “May I remind [people] that I was one of the 343 sluts with Marguerite Duras and Françoise Sagan who signed the manifesto ‘I had an abortion’ written by Simone de Beauvoir?”

Through that manifesto, Deneuve admitted to having had an abortion when abortions were illegal in France in 1971.

“I am a free woman and I’ll always be. I salute fraternally all the victims of odious acts who may have been offended by this public letter published in Le Monde. It is to them and them only that I present my apologies,” said Deneuve in the conclusion to her statement Monday.

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