Berlusconi, who was tried for paying for sex with underage women at ‘bunga bunga’ parties, said that French actress Deneuve “spoke blessed words”. He said: “It is natural women are happy that a man courts them. I don’t have much experience with this because it’s always women who try to seduce me.”
The 81-year old politician, who also owns Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset, is mounting a political comeback ahead of forthcoming elections despite being barred from holding office because of his 2013 conviction for tax fraud and the fact that he is currently on trial accused of bribing witnesses.
His comments come after Deneuve was one of around 100 women that rejected what they sees as a new puritanism in the wake of the sexual harassment and assault scandals. “Rape is a crime,” the collective wrote. “Insistently or awkwardly hitting on someone is not.” Lamenting that the #MeToo campaign has led to “expeditious justice” for men who “may have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss” or “spoken of ‘intimate’ things during a professional dinner,” the women further say they “defend a freedom to importune, which is indispensable to sexual freedom.”
The open letter, which was published in Le Monde, has drawn sharp criticism from a group of militant French feminists. Caroline De Haas, a founder of women’s org Osez Le Feminisme, authored a strongly-worded riposte and said the signatories were “using their media visibility to trivialize sexual violence.”