The Right to Say No

The real issue behind the furore around the debate on sexual harassment (the open letter sent to Le Monde by Catherine Deneuve and 99 other prominent Frenchwomen) is that the people who are or have been the victims of sexual harassment have not been listened to.  They have not been listened to by their perpetrators   and they have not been listened to by the people to whom they complained.  It is the right of every human being to make their own decisions and it is also the right of every human being to change their minds.  We have a right to have an opinion, feelings and emotions and a right to express them.   When “no” is not listened to and accepted in a situation where 2 people are alone together and there is a danger of physical and mental aggression you are into a sexual harassment situation.  No one wants to douse sexual desire – definitely not – but sexual harassment is as far from sexual desire as winter is from summer.

The real issue behind the furore around the debate on sexual harassment (the open letter sent to Le Monde by Catherine Deneuve and 99 other prominent Frenchwomen) is that the people who are or have been the victims of sexual harassment have not been listened to.  They have not been listened to by their perpetrators   and they have not been listened to by the people to whom they complained.  It is the right of every human being to make their own decisions and it is also the right of every human being to change their minds.  We have a right to have an opinion, feelings and emotions and a right to express them.   When “no” is not listened to and accepted in a situation where 2 people are alone together and there is a danger of physical and mental aggression you are into a sexual harassment situation.  No one wants to douse sexual desire – definitely not – but sexual harassment is as far from sexual desire as winter is from summer.

Catherine Deneuve

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