Catherine Deneuve has apologized to sexual assault victims amid the backlash to the backlash against the #MeToo movement in France. The actress said that while she agrees with the spirit of an open letter she signed, which denounced a "witch hunt" against men guilty of no more than "clumsy flirting," she's appalled by what other signatories later said in the media. They include radio presenter Brigitte Lahaie, who argued that women are able to "orgasm during a rape," the Guardian reports. That attitude, Deneuve said, is "worse than spitting in the face of those who have suffered this crime." After it was published in Le Monde last week, the letter was denounced by women's rights activists who likened it to "an annoying uncle who doesn't understand what's happening," the AP reports.
"Obviously nothing in the text claims that harassment is good, otherwise I would not have signed it," Deneuve said, adding that one of her concerns was the "purging of the arts." "Are we going to ... designate Leonardo da Vinci as a pedophile artist and erase his paintings?," she wondered, per Deadline. Addressing people who accused her of opposing feminism, Deneuve noted that she was one of the 343 women who signed a famous 1971 letter admitting they had abortions when they were illegal. "That is why I want to say to conservatives, racists, and traditionalists of all kinds who have found it strategic to support me, I am not fooled. They will have neither my gratitude nor my friendship, quite the contrary," she said. "I warmly salute all the victims of odious acts who may have felt offended by the letter ... it's to them and them alone that I apologize."