Criticism of the MeToo campaign from France

Clumsy flirting isn't a crime, 100 prominent French women including actress Catherine Deneuve have posited. In a commentary piece for Le Monde they criticise the MeToo campaign, saying it has created a climate of denunciation, fuels hatred of men and works against sexual freedom. The heated debate over the MeToo campaign continues.

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Libération (FR) / 15 January 2018

Stars of swinging 60s defending privileges

Catherine Deneuve and her fellow signatories benefited from the sexual revolution but were spared its downside thanks to their privileged status, Libération believes:

“All of the women who signed the commentary achieved fame and fortune thanks to the halcyon days of the late 1960s. They made great films with great directors, wrote bestsellers about the swinging generation or made a career for themselves as sexologists by dint of their prolific porn filmographies. They were the great beneficiaries of this revolution which, it must be said, did nothing to shatter glass ceilings or reduce the wage gap between men and women. This text is not a manifesto, but a plea from the last century in favour of bygone golden years.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) / 14 January 2018

Mob law per tweet tirade

The MeToo campaign has reversed the whole principle of innocent until proven guilty, film director Katrin Laur complains in Eesti Päevaleht:

“Harvey Weinstein has been destroyed. So has Kevin Spacey. But above all the principle of innocent until proven guilty has been destroyed. There's no trial, no indictment, no chance to defend oneself against one's accusers. It just takes hundreds of thousands of tweets and the judgement is handed down. If Weinstein or Spacey were to take legal action against this - even if in the end they could prove that the accusations were false - what would that victory achieve? ... This all harks back to the revolutions in which the opponents of the 'right' cause were executed in summary proceedings.”

Expressen (SE) / 14 January 2018

Black and white thinking won't help

The MeToo debate runs the risk of becoming one-sided because casting men as sex-crazed and bad and women as kindhearted victims uninterested in sex can only harm the campaign, Expressen believes:

“The debate should also deal with female lust, to widen, deepen and open up the discussion. ... The MeToo movement must not become a sect in which everyone who voices even the slightest criticism is viewed as a heretic. Hardly anything is as discriminatory to women as the demand that everyone should have the same, gender-based views. A debate in which the roles of good and evil are clearly distributed may be easy to conduct, but it will ultimately be self-destructive. Because we can only bring about real change by working together.”

De Volkskrant (NL) / 12 January 2018

Feminism is the opposite of puritanism

Professor of legal theory Irena Rosenthal rejects in De Volkskrant the criticisms voiced by the French signatories:

“It's a misconception to believe that MeToo aims to achieve a puritanical society. The campaign seeks to give women precisely the sort of stress-free enjoyment that they've been denied for too long. The idea that feminists are humourless grumblers who begrudge others pleasure is a classic prejudice that rears its head whenever women publicly condemn sexism. ... MeToo is a struggle for freedom that seeks to redistribute the advantages of stress-free enjoyment, and the disadvantages of self-doubt. Perhaps it's not always a barrel of laughs, but it is urgently needed.”

El Mundo (ES) / 12 January 2018

Take a look in the mirror, please!

The MeToo campaign is undermining conventional ideas, philosopher Slavoj Žižek writes in El Mundo:

“The way relations between the sexes have been regulated and organised for thousands of years is being called into question. And those who are protesting now are not an LGBT minority, but a majority: the women. What is being uncovered now is nothing new, it is something that we already knew (at least vaguely) but simply weren't (voluntarily) capable of openly denouncing: hundreds of ways in which women are sexually exploited. Now women are bringing to light this dark side of our affirmations of equality and mutual respect. And what we are seeing, among other things, is how hypocritical and prejudiced our criticism of the oppression of women in Muslim countries is. We must confront the reality of our own oppression and exploitation.”

Die Welt (DE) / 10 January 2018

Thanks, Catherine!

Finally, Die Welt writes in delight:

“The letter will come as a relief for all those who thought they were going crazy over the last three months. Since MeToo started last autumn it was easy to believe the world was full of nothing but sexual abuse, exploitation, sexualised violence and gender hatred. ... Anyone who wanted to give a more nuanced picture came under the wheels of the dictatorship of opinion disguised as 'solidarity with women'. After fifty years of sexual freedom and emancipation and the far older ability for mutual respect or to set limits, all that seemed to be a thing of the past. ... Now, finally, the great Catherine Deneuve has said: 'Enough nonsense!' And that's music to our ears.”

The Guardian (GB) / 11 January 2018

Criticism only benefits the offenders

The women are supporting the wrong people with their letter, The Guardian rails:

“It's the likes of Allen, and Weinstein, and the other men accused - again and again - of abuses with whom Deneuve and her friends are aligning themselves with their letter. Their actions are not those in defence of freedom, let alone sexual expression or female identity. They're standing with those making excuses to torch powerless women, not anyone defending their liberty.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) / 11 January 2018

Sweeping accusations don't help

In the row over the MeToo debate in France both sides have a point, the Tages-Anzeiger stresses:

“Will the conflict enter a new, escalating round with mutual insults and no clear outcome? Or isn't it more interesting to realise that both sides are right? The MeToo-adepts' predilection for sweeping accusations and prejudgement is indisputable; here we must agree with the French. But that men are therefore somehow entitled to harass women is equally untenable. If a women draws a line, a man must accept it. And apologise if he disregards it. Because sexual freedom is the opposite of force. ... But angelic sex can't be the way to go either.”

More current debates

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH)
La Repubblica (IT)
Novoye Vremya (UA)
Ukrayinska Pravda (UA)
De Volkskrant (NL)
The Times (GB)
Hürriyet (TR)
Die Tageszeitung taz (DE)
Financial Times (GB)
Spiegel Online (DE)
Ria Novosti (RU)
Die Tageszeitung taz (DE)