The acclaimed French actress specifically addressed victims of sexual misconduct in her apology

By David Canfield
January 15, 2018 at 08:42 AM EST
Vanni Bassetti/Getty Images

Catherine Deneuve is walking back her support of a letter decrying the efforts and effects of the #MeToo movement.

The Oscar-nominated actress, along with 99 other prominent French women, signed a controversial letter published in Le Monde last week. The letter said men should be free to “hit on women,” lambasted the #MeToo culture as “Puritanical” and akin to a witch hunt, and argued that “men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss.”

The letter was roundly criticized stateside, with Deneuve emerging as the face of it, given her global popularity.

On Sunday, however, Deneuve apologized for adding her name to the Le Monde piece in an essay published by Liberation, a French newspaper. She addressed her apology specifically to victims of sexual misconduct, calling out those who have turned on her for disingenuous reasons. “I would like to say to conservatives, racists, and traditionalists of all kinds who have found it strategic to support me that I am not fooled,” she wrote. “They will have neither my gratitude nor my friendship.”

She continued, “I am a free woman and I will remain so. I fraternally salute all the victims of odious acts that may have felt aggrieved by this letter published in Le Monde. It is to them and to them alone that I apologize.”

Deneuve has long been known as a prominent liberal activist, a reputation she makes clear in her essay. She was included in the “Manifesto of 343 Sluts” in 1971, admitting to having had an illegal abortion, and has also called out misogyny towards female politicians and been involved in anti-death penalty efforts.

Deneuve still stops short, however, of endorsing the #MeToo movement altogether in her Liberation essay. Instead, she clarifies her conflicted stance somewhat. “I do not like this characteristic of our time … when simple denunciations on social networks generate punishment, resignation and often media lynching,” she wrote. “I do not excuse anything, [but] I do not decide on the guilt of these men because I am not qualified to. And few are.”

Nonetheless, Deneuve did advocate for a climate of supporting alleged victims of sexual misconduct. “I believe in justice,” she said.

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