Dear Ms. Deneuve,
It is wonderful for you that you feel comfortable with male attention, that it does not make you feel unsafe or threatened, that it does not even annoy. It is wonderful for you that you feel so unthreatened by this behaviour, either solicited or unsolicited, that you feel the need to defend men and their ‘right’ to hit on women.
And don’t get me wrong; I realize where you’re coming from. It seems to be a reaction to a movement that may appear to you as contrary to what feminists of your era fought for: sexual freedom.
I can even, if I squint hard, see a little bit of your take on the #metoo movement being victimizing: women self-flagellating, re-opening wounds and re-triggering themselves may seem like martyrdom and victimhood. But look at it for what it was for many; women realizing they will not be heard until they scream. And realizing at the same time that whatever will elicit a scream loud enough will hurt and doing it anyway. The real pity is not these women and their unified scream, but your inability to see the courage it took.
Another real pity is that you are doing exactly what has been divisive in feminism – you’ve come at feminism devoid of awareness outside of yourself and therefore, coming to a conclusion that is ignorant and completely devoid of empathy. Though, how you managed to miss basic awareness of the state of women aside from yourself and your echo-chamber, is beyond me.
Your stance is tied to a single, narrow perspective: privilege. It is a privilege that you don’t see men as a real threat, that you can take pleasure from ‘a touch on the knee’ or even simply dismiss it as harmless.
Many women, don’t have that privilege: the men they’ve known have been actual threats. Their brothers, fathers, uncles, ex-partners or rejected suiters have all been threats. Like Qandeel Baloch, whose brother killed her for his ‘honour’, like Mukhtaran Bibi, who was gang raped because ‘an eye for an eye’, like Malala Yousefzai, shot for trying to get an education. All the acid attack victims in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Ethiopia – attacked to protect family honour, community honour or as vessels for revenge. These women were not seen as human by the men, only as symbols of honour, as tokens of masculinity, as tools used to exact their twisted brand of justice.
What utter privilege and absolute ignorance it must take to even think the phrase ‘just a touch’. Oh, and the way you attempted to buffer yourself from the reaction to your letter: dragging another woman in front of you to take the flak. A classy move for a self-identified feminist.
And so, Ms. Deneuve stop denigrating the laurels from your feminist battles past and look at the context of the now for women outside the high walls of your wisteria-covered privilege.