‘Me Too’: Berlusconi sides with Deneuve
ROME: Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has backed French actress Catherine Deneuve for saying men should be “free to hit on” women.
Mr Berlusconi, 81, who went on trial for paying for sex with underage girls during “bunga bunga” parties, said in a TV interview: “It is natural women are happy that a man courts them. I’m not used to that, because women always court me. The important thing is that the courtship is elegant.”
Mr Berlusconi was convicted in 2013 of having sex with an underage prostitute, an exotic dancer nicknamed “Ruby the Heart Stealer”, but was cleared two years later following an appeal. He is now on trial accused of buying off witnesses in that case.
Deneuve is one of 100 French women who signed an open letter attacking the #MeToo movement for leading a witch-hunt against men.
The letter warns about a new “puritanism” as a result of recent sexual harassment scandals and condemns the wave of “denunciations” that followed rape allegations made against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
A group of French feminists later criticised the letter, accusing the signatories of trivialising sexual violence.
Mr Berlusconi’s interjection came as five women accused US actor James Franco of engaging in inappropriate or sexually exploitative behaviour when he worked with them.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who was a student at his film school and appeared in Franco’s productions, told the Los Angeles Times that Franco pressured her into filming nude scenes.
She is one of five women to accuse Franco, who won the best actor Golden Globe this week for The Disaster Artist, of “sexually exploitative” behaviour.
“I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women,” Tither-Kaplan said.
She said Franco removed protective plastic guards covering other actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex in a scene. Franco’s lawyer, Michael Plonsker, disputed all of the allegations, the newspaper reported.
Two former students said the actor put them in “uncomfortable situations beyond the normal parameters of acting class”. Both said Franco became angry when none of the women, while at the shoot, would agree to be topless.
Tither-Kaplan took to Twitter on Monday to express anger over Franco’s win while he wore a “Time’s Up” pin supporting victims of sexual harassment and assault.
‘Women always court me’: Silvio Berlusconi presses the flesh at a Rome television studio yesterday