French actress Catherine Deneuve has apologised to victims of sexual assault and harassment, following the controversial letter she signed denouncing the #MeToo movement.
Last week, Deneuve declared that men should be “free to hit on” women, condemning a new “puritanism” she claims has been sparked by sexual harassment scandals.
The iconic actress led a group of 100 French women including writers, performers and academics, who signed an open letter published in Le Monde deploring the wave of “denunciations” that has followed Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood.
Now, in a follow-up letter, published in French newspaper Libération, Deneuve has explained her stance and apologised to victims of sexual assault who were hurt by her words.
"I'm a free woman and I will remain one," Deneuve wrote, according to The New York Times. "I fraternally salute all women victims of odious acts who may have felt aggrieved by the letter in Le Monde. It is to them, and them alone, that I apologise."
"Yes, I signed this petition, and yet it seems to me absolutely necessary today to emphasise my disagreement with the way some petitioners individually claim the right to spread themselves across the media, distorting the very spirit of this text," she continued.
The original letter stated: “Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not – nor is men being gentlemanly a macho attack."
“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,” said the letter, which was also signed by Catherine Millet, author of the hugely explicit 2002 memoir, The Sexual Life of Catherine M.
“As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism which, beyond the denunciation of abuses of power, takes the face of a hatred of men and sexuality,” it continued, adding that women are condemning themselves to play the role of “prey”.