For these women, time’s up for #MeToo.

More than 100 prominent French women from all walks of life caused a major stir last week after publishing an editorial in Le Monde, France’s newspaper of record, arguing that the recent backlash against sexual harassment had become a “witch hunt.” The signers included the 14-time Caesar Award nominee Catherine Deneuve, as well as Catherine Robbe-Grillet, a comedian that Vanity Fair once dubbed the country’s most famous dominatrix.

“Men have been punished… when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss,” the women write, per a Moneyish translation. “The haste to send the ‘pigs’ to the abattoir, far from liberating women, in reality serves the interests of the enemies of sexual liberty, the religious extremists, the worst reactionaries.” (The French equivalent of #MeToo is #BalanceTonPorc, or “squeal on your pig.”)

The letter has drawn heavy criticism, with Marlène Schiappa, the French minister of gender equality, calling it “profoundly shocking… it’s dangerous to have this discourse.” It’s also cast light on a gender divide among French feminists, with many younger women activists furious with their older counterparts for writing a letter they consider retrograde.

Deneuve, the most famous of all the signers, has distanced herself slightly from the authors. “It’s necessary today to underline my disagreement with the way some signers claim the right to spread themselves across the media in a way that distorts the spirit of the text,” she wrote in Libération, the French communist daily, per a Moneyish translation. “I salute all the victims of odious acts who felt offended by the letter, it is only to them that I apologize,” she said, adding that she still disliked the aspects of the #MeToo movement that amounted to a media lynching.

The letter was partly the brainchild of Peggy Sastre, a French author and translator, who tells Moneyish she was getting physically sick from the “collective hysteria” from the #MeToo movement, which has claimed the scalps of prominent alleged sexual harassers like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey. She heard Catherine Millet, a co-author who is also a top art curator, speak out publicly — and with friends, gathered a group of intellectuals to sign an open letter.

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For Sastre, the author of the upcoming “How Love Has Poisoned Women,” the move was fueled by discontent that the #MeToo movement was somehow representative of all women. “We have tolerated for way too long this type of emotional extortion, intellectual terrorism and oppression of speech from those who pretend to defend the rights and interests of minorities,” Sastre, 36 years old, tells Moneyish.

Whatever one thinks of her position, it’s getting some resonance: Sastre’s received emails of thanks and support from as far away as Brazil. The French fashion designer Catherine Malandrino also recently told Moneyish that while harassment is “totally unacceptable…I don’t want to create a dry society. It’s fabulous to feel desired.”

“The French have an annoying tendency to bring in the worst of Anglo-Saxon puritanism without the libertarianism that such a puritanism also naturally creates,” says Sastre of what her letter calls a “Victorian mentality.”

At the same time, sexual harassment is a very real problem in France. A recent report from National Observatory of Crime and Criminal Justice revealed that 267,000 people—the vast majority of them women— were harassed while riding public transport there between 2014 and 2015. The organization, which defined harassment as acts including unwanted groping, rape and flashing, reportedly called the numbers a “low estimate.” French President Emmanuel Macron created Schiappa’s department, charged with ensuring equality between men and women, and promised recently to increase its budget.

So what does Sastre think women should do when dealing with a man who’s stolen an unwanted kiss? For her personally, she’d laugh. “There’s something scary about the lack of humor and lightness that plagues us today,” she says. “We could almost believe that we’re at the start of a dystopia. When a dictatorship is set up, it always sets off to prohibit laughter.”

This story was updated on January 17, 2018 with news of Catherine Deneuve distancing herself from the co-authors of the letter.