In her letter to Libération, Ms. Deneuve said that while last week’s letter had denounced the #MeToo movement, “Nothing in the text claims that harassment is good.”
The sentiment of the statement had been misrepresented by some of her fellow signatories, she said. “Yes, I signed this petition, and yet it seems to me absolutely necessary today to emphasize my disagreement with the way some petitioners individually claim the right to spread themselves across the media, distorting the very spirit of this text,” she continued.
The response to the initial letter exposed a sharp cultural divide in France: Supporters argued that the letter had struck a blow against a growing culture of victimhood, while critics contended it showed a lack of support for victims of sexual harassment.
The debate went to the core of what it means to be a feminist in France and exposed tensions and questions about Anglo-American influences on French feminism.
In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, the French journalist Agnès Poirier wrote, “In the past 20 years or so, a new French feminism has emerged — an American import.” She said that this style of feminism, which incorporated “anti-men paranoia,” had taken “control of #MeToo in France, and this same form of feminism has been very vocal against the Deneuve letter.”
In her letter of clarification, Ms. Deneuve addressed criticism of her own position as a feminist. She pointed to a declaration she signed along with 343 other women in 1971, written by the feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir, in which she revealed she had had an abortion when it was still illegal. “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 said. “They will have neither my gratitude nor my friendship — on the contrary.”