January 15, 2018 / 2:51 PM / 4 months ago

France's Deneuve apologizes to sex assault victims, stands by letter

PARIS (Reuters) - Actress Catherine Deneuve apologized to victims of sexual assault who were offended by a column denouncing “puritanism” she signed following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but maintained her reservations about the #MeToo campaign.

FILE PHOTO: 70th Cannes Film Festival - Event for the 70th Anniversary of the festival - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France. 23/05/2017. Actress Catherine Deneuve poses. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Deneuve and 99 other French women signed a column in Le Monde last week saying the campaign, which saw millions of women take to social media to share sexual harassment stories, had gone too far and was fueled by a “hatred of men”.

In a letter in Liberation newspaper on Monday, Deneuve stood by the statement that sparked an international outcry, but distanced herself from comments made by other signatories.

In particular, she referred, without naming her, to former radio presenter Brigitte Lahaie, who during a debate on French TV said women could “orgasm during a rape”.

“I’m a free woman and always will be,” Deneuve said. “I send my sisterly regards to all the victims of abject acts who would have felt attacked by this column in Le Monde, and it is to them, and them only, that I offer my apologies.”

“Saying on a TV channel that you can orgasm during a rape is worse than spitting in the face of all those who suffered from this crime,” she said.

But the 74-year-old actress said she did not like the “media lynching” and “climate of censorship” she said was unleashed by the #metoo campaign, known in France as #balancetonporc or “rat out your abuser”.

“An actor can be digitally removed from a movie, the director of a great New York institution can be forced to resign for groping somebody’s buttocks 30 years ago with no other form of trial,” she said.

“I don’t like this pack mentality, all too common these days,” she added.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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