The Thinking 

Catherine Deneuve’s Rebuke

January 10, 2018

THE FAMOUS French actress Catherine Deneuve, along with five other French women, has been the center of attention after issuing a letter decrying what they say are the excessive attacks on men for “sexual harassment:”

Rape is a crime. But trying to pick up someone, however persistently or clumsily, is not — nor is gallantry an attack of machismo.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal sparked a legitimate awakening about the sexual violence that women are subjected to, particularly in their professional lives, where some men abuse their power. This was necessary. But what was supposed to liberate voices has now been turned on its head: We are being told what is proper to say and what we must stay silent about — and the women who refuse to fall into line are considered traitors, accomplices!

They also say:

Incidents that can affect a woman’s body do not necessarily affect her dignity and must not, as difficult as they can be, necessarily make her a perpetual victim. Because we are not reducible to our bodies. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risks and responsibilities.

This is well said, and the letter makes other good points. But it is fundamentally flawed in its arguments. It also defends, under its same principles, the lewd paintings of children made by the artist Balthus:


The letter states:

This frenzy for sending the “pigs” to the slaughterhouse, far from helping women empower themselves, actually serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom, the religious extremists, the reactionaries and those who believe — in their righteousness and the Victorian moral outlook that goes with it — that women are a species “apart,” children with adult faces who demand to be protected.

[Most women — indeed those who are part of the #MeToo movement — demand to be protected. Protecting women, they know, is not the same as treating them as children.]

It continues:

The purging wave seems to know no bounds. The poster of an Egon Schiele nude is censored; calls are made for the removal of a Balthus painting from a museum on grounds that it’s an apology for pedophilia; unable to distinguish between the man and his work, Cinémathèque Française is told not to hold a Roman Polanski retrospective and another for Jean-Claude Brisseau is blocked. A university judges the film Blow-Up, by Michelangelo Antonioni, to be “misogynist” and “unacceptable.” In light of this revisionism, even John Ford (The Searchers) and Nicolas Poussin (The Abduction of the Sabine Women) are at risk.

The point of the letter is that we should be free to offend each other. Apparently, it is “Victorian” to reject the sexualization of children and crude imagery in public places.

Catherine Deneuve is just another modern pagan.

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