Sandra Muller didn’t expect her tweet to start a firestorm over sexual harassment in France, but she doesn’t regret it either – even though the stress over the intervening two years has made it hard for her to sleep.
The French journalist became a figurehead for France’s version of #MeToo in 2017 after she publicly accused a man of making lewd comments toward her.
It also turned her into a symbol of the backlash against the movement this September, when a court in Paris found she had defamed the man she accused, and ordered her to pay him thousands of euros in damages.
The man, television producer Eric Brion, admitted to making the remarks and said he had apologized to Muller, but said his words were a clumsy attempt at flirting, not harassment. The court agreed with him.
“You are the Time [magazine] Person of the Year and at the same time … a sort of a pariah facing backlash from people like Catherine Deneuve,” she said. Deneuve, a French movie star, was one of 100 women who signed an open letter denouncing #MeToo in January 2018. It was one of the first signs of the counterreaction to come.
The #MeToo aftershocks matter
When allegations of sexual abuse implicating the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked the global #MeToo movement in 2017, its message was simple: Men in positions of power should not – and will not – be allowed to get away with using their position to harass and assault.
Dozens of very high-profile men – and a handful of women – have been forced out