In the months since allegations of sexual abuse against US movie mogul Harvey Weinstein first emerged, Hollywood stars have been falling over themselves to condemn him, other ‘ladies men’ in the industry and express their support to those who claimed to be victims of sexual predators. The with hunt has spread beyond Hollywood first to politics, then business and now the hysteria has reached such levels all men are being condemned. The unanimity of the response has been and astounding example of what the french call Le pensée unique, the single idea. At the Golden Globe awards last Sunday, an entire galaxy of stars came out wearing black in solidarity with victims and those who resisted the demands for conformity were subjected to the obligatory hate campaign.
This week veteran French actresses and 1960s / 70s sex symbol Catherine Deneuve, took a different view.
Deneuve was the most high-profile of 100 prominent French female celebrities who signed an open letter criticising the #MeToo social-media campaign, and related drives to expose sexual harassment in France and elsewhere.
The Hollywood and mainstream media campaigns, the Le Monde letter said, had gone beyond exposing individual perpetrators, and had unleashed a torrent of “hatred against men and sex”. Add to that the usual noise from London’s metropilitan leftie screechers who, supported by the usual suspects, The Labour Party, Unite Against Fascism, The Anti – Nazi League, the Gay BLTs and the tesicularly deficient progressive wing of the Conservative Party responded with their own Pavolian hatefest. The people can be relied on to unfailingly respond to the trigger signals.
“Puritanism” was running rampant “like in the good old days of witchcraft”, the French feminists argued, stating that the freedom of men to pester was “essential to sexual freedom”.
Around the world – but mainly among the liberal elites of east and west coast USA, the shock of dropping jaws striking the ground registered two point five on the Richter scale and a tsunami of outrage swamped social media. In France itself there were some strong reactions – both for and against – but the response was not front-page news and most people simply gave a gallic shrug and said “Qu’importe”.
Those different reactions say a lot about the different ways feminist view the world in the Anglosphere and Southern Europe France and the US. “It’s hard to imagine a US movie star not being comprehensively pilloried” for signing such a letter, says Emily Yoffe, contributing editor for The Atlantic magazine. And that is a key point; the Politically Correct Thought Police who patrol the internet might get their knickers in a twist and start raging about diversity when someone complains about immigrant refusing to integrate but there are many aspects of diversity followers of the pensée unique are just not willing to tolerate.
The French women are not the first to break ranks from the politically correct consensus.
In an interview for Business Insider, Matt Damon, star of the highly successful Bourne franchise said that the majority of men in Hollywood were not involved in sexual misconduct but this is not not gaining attention.
“We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is… the preponderance of men I’ve worked with who don’t do this kind of thing,” he said during an interview while promoting his new film Downsizing.
Many social media users condemned the actor for suggesting not being a sexual predator was an accomplishment although that is a ridiculous distortion of what he meant.
US actor Matt Damon, for example, drew fire for expressing much milder reservations about the #MeToo movement.
It is not the first time Damon has commented on sexual abuse following rape allegations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. Last week in an interview with ABC News Damon said groping and rape were two different things and shouldn’t be treated the same.
“There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?” Damon told ABC’S ‘Popcorn’ with Peter Travers “Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”
Criticizing the politically correct zealotry of the #MeToo campaign may be taboo in the USA and Britain, so why can such views as are expressed in the letter to Le Monde accepted with so little fuss in France? One reason, according to Anastasia Colosimo, a political commentator who lectures in Sciences Politique in Paris, is author of “Les bûchers de la liberté,” (The butchers of Liberty) and is an enduring influence in France of 1960s-type feminists, steeped in the free-wheeling ethos of the time.
“A key aspect of the struggle of the 1960s was the need to remove any guilt attached to feminine sexuality,” she says. “Women openly said they had the same craving for sex as men.”
The signatories of the letter also include writer Catherine Millet, 69, best-known for a 2002 memoir detailing her sexual history in graphic detail. Among the others are Catherine Robbe-Grillet, the author of sadomasochistic stories, and Brigitte Lahaie, a 1970s porn star turned talk-show host.
These older feminists see the drive against harassment, which gathered steam in 1990s America, as a threat to the sexual revolution their generation has achieved. They accept the need to fight rape and workplace harassment. But in their view, says Ms Colosimo, activists who put such dangers at the heart of the modern feminist struggle promote a view of women “as victims and helpless objects of male desire rather than free agents”.
This contrasts with the Anglosphere where the feminist movement has been completely hijacked by ugly, hairy – arsed, man – hating lezzas who are prepared to condemn Harvey Weinstein although he has not yet been convicted of anything, but simultaneously defend Muslims who rape and sexually exploit white girls, “because Multiculturalism.”
The pushback is not just in France however, ridiculous claims from the gaggle of squawkers in Hollywood and other sectors of the celebrity circus have alienated more level headed commentators. Novelist Margaret Atwood has criticized #MeToo, from a different angle, her provocative article is published in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. The lifelong feminist is singing, if not quite from the same songsheet, certainy from the same songbook as she complains that a broken legal system which permits media witch hunts rather than ensuring due process is observed, thus negating the legal rights of those against whom allegations have been made but as yet no charges have been laid.
We saw a similar trend in Britain after the crimes of DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile were exposed in 2013 after a police investigation into evidence of his prolific sexual abuse of under age and vulnerable people had been in progress for some months. While rumours had circulated about Savile’s behaviour for years, as was the case with Harvey Weinstein, those who should have acted closed ranks to protect Savile because his carefully constructed public image made him a cash cow for their media companies and charities.
As soon as the Savile story gained traction , though he was safe from legal action having died in 2011, multitudes of attention seekers started to make #MeToo style allegations against male celebrities most of which were not supported by any evidence at all. And as in the latest outburst of politically correct madness names of the accused were made pubic before any legal process was initiated. The legal rights of those accused have been ignored by the very people who usually scream most loudly about “rights”.
American novelist Lionel Shriver, is also sceptical about the motivations of those jumping on the #meToo bandwagon. Unanimity in Hollywood, she suggests, is result of risking ostracism by going off-message: “Given the nature of social movements these days, if you have reservations you keep your mouth shut.”In the social media age, Shriver adds, “You have one position that’s acceptable and everyone piles on to it. If you express a dissenting opinion, you’re going to get slaughtered.”
This has not deterred Shriver, who fully supports the Deneuve line and regards #MeToo as a “witch-hunt”. “We’re losing the distinction between serious sexual assault and even rape and putting a hand on a knee,” she says. “It’s as if someone finding you attractive is an insult. I beg to differ: I’m complimented if someone is attracted to me. The only question is: am I allowed to say no?”
Last year another major French actress, Fanny Ardant – born in 1949 – went so far as to say that the campaign against sex pests was redolent of fascism. Fascism is an accusation that has been levelled at the forces of politically correct authoritarianism in other contexts too, and with good cause.