‘Me Too’: Berlusconi sides with Deneuve

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD -

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



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