Berlusconi Backs Deneuve's Stance on #MeToo, Defines Limits in Courting Women

Deneuve feminist row sparks yet more soul-searching in France

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has waded into the Hollywood sexual assault scandal - backing Catherine Deneuve's view that men should be "free to hit on" women.

Berlusconi said "It's not an offense to court women if it stays in the realm of elegance", and that it was only "natural" that women enjoy the affections of men.

"The important thing is that the courtship is elegant", he added.

The billionaire media tycoon was eventually cleared in his sex trial in 2014 because the judge ruled it could not be proved he knew the age of the teenage nightclub dancer, Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer".

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Deneuve, along with 99 other women, wrote an open letter which said that "to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not [a crime] - and nor is men being gentlemanly a chauvinist attack".

The column, published by the French daily Le Monde, blasts the wave of harassment allegations as "puritanism", saying the movement is fueled by a "hatred of men", Reuters notes.

A group of French feminists later criticized the letter, accusing the signatories of trivializing sexual violence.

Billionaire Berlusconi's Go Italy party (FI) is now doing well in opinion polls ahead of a March 4th election, although he is not able to run for office due to a tax fraud conviction.


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