As I recall from college history courses, French philosophers, such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, were hugely influential on Thomas Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, going back to the Pilgrims, there has been an intellectual dialogue going back-and-forth between America and Europe, from politics to popular culture and fashion.
Perhaps the most important outcome so far while the Groper-in-Chief holds the highest office in the land is the #metoo movement. Trump is, as yet, untouchable in any way, including his admitted sexual assault. Harvey Weinstein got nailed instead, and it stuck. Finally, the old “he said, she said” trap was broken! Then came the allegation landslide, with Al Franken rather than Trump paying the political price.
I have no doubt at all that most assertions of sexual misconduct are true, with the accused having no acceptable excuse. Putting it all out in the open is good, from the horrors of the Catholic Church’s abuses of kids, to movie stars exposing themselves to women. I also have no doubt there are minor offenses where a sincere apology should suffice. Although I think that “slippery slope” arguments are often overstated, the distinction between abuse and harassment seems to be getting blurred, and if it continues to the point where normal social interaction is affected, we’ll be heading back in the direction of the Puritans.
In France there has been a call for a more nuanced dialogue regarding the dynamics between men and women, where some behaviors may not be socially acceptable, but are privately enjoyed by both parties. And yet in the United States, even that call to clarify the definition of harassment is considered by abuse victims to be offensive, and it has been met with a forceful rejection. So the back-and-forth between the cultures continues.
I’m not expecting women in the United States to adopt the more generous tolerance of men that is held by Catherine Denueve and other women in France. François Mitterrand’s funeral was, after all, attended by both his wife and his mistress. France’s inexplicable appreciation of Jerry Lewis aside, here is something that was hugely popular in France, that elsewhere might be considered unacceptable, even exploitative, entertainment.