Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I bet most of the critics can't read French.

I woke up to some interesting news this morning: the French Actress, Catherine Deneuve, and 99 other women, wrote a piece condemning the blanket #metoo. Catherine Deneuve is probably one of the few of these women most Anglophones are familiar with as an international film star. On the other hand, there are another 99 other women who signed this piece who come from varying points of view.

They also aren't as well known outside France.

First off, the article makes it clear that there is a difference between rape and sexual harassment with maladroit flirtation and gallantry. Maybe non-Gallic women don't like having the door held for them, but French women tend to expect it.

Secondly, most of the English language coverage I have seen of this tends to focus on the most well known signer of this letter, but 99 other women also signed this critique of the #metoo phenomenon.

The most important part is that the writers try to distinguish between sexual violence and men being awkward. The difference between a grope and an accident. The gist of the argument here seems to be:
 In the same way, we defend a freedom to annoy, indispensable to the sexual freedom. We are now sufficiently warned to declare that the sexual drive is by nature offensive and savage, but we are also sufficiently clairvoyant not to confuse clumsy flirtation with sexual assault.
I'm not sure this can be seen as "mansplaining" as much as it is translation and cultural interpretation.  Especially since I see most of the critics probably haven't read the letter in its original French, or they don't understand the cultural under currents of this letter. Catherine Deneuve, star of Belle de Jour which is about sexual fantasy, as the face of this argument.

But there is much more to this letter than the Anglophone media lets on which needs to be addressed in this debate without resorting to an ad hominem toward one of the signers. People need to get the whole story before they comment since this letter addresses an important part of the debate.

The actual letter is here:

I'm not sure if the commenters will bother reading it since that seems to be the case with most of the people I hear discussing the letter.

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