The op-ed piece criticizing the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc movements co-signed by French actress Catherine Deneuve has transformed the debate on sexual harassment into a Franco-American quarrel.
One conclusion of the stance taken by the actress and some 100 other French figures from the worlds of academia, publishing, and media was that the Americans are supposedly seeking to impose a "puritanical dictatorship" on the French, infantilizing women while denying men all acts of seduction. French women, so we are to believe, are strongly attached to courtly love and all our fine romantic traditions.
These developments have been the occasion to dredge up a strange text written by Simone de Beauvoir. While in Chicago in 1947, she observed that relationships between the sexes in America were steeped in hostility, whereas interactions between men and women in France were underpinned by seduction. "Another of my surprises was the American woman," she wrote in Force of Circumstance (1963). "While it[...]