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January 21, 2020
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Woman behind France’s #MeToo movement faces defamation suit in court

PARIS, France: The woman behind France’s version of the #MeToo movement will appear in court in Paris over the charge of defaming the man she accused of sexually harassing her.

Sandra Muller, a New-York based French journalist, sent a tweet with the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc (squeal on your pig) on October 13, 2017, in which she accused French TV executive Eric Brion of making sexually explicit remarks to her.

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Social media was flooded with other women sharing similar stories after Muller tweeted “#balancetonporc!! You too, share and give the name and details of any sexual harassment you have experienced in the workplace”.

Brion, who had initially appeared contrite, admitting in an op-ed for France’s Le Monde newspaper he had made “inappropriate remarks to Sandra Muller” at a cocktail party.

“I fancied her. I told her so, in a heavy-handed manner,” he wrote in December 2017. He said there was a need for “truth and nuance” amid the wave of accusations.
Just weeks later, Muller revealed that Brion had decided to launch legal action against her.

Brion is seeking $55,000 in damages, $17,000 in legal fees and demanding that Muller delete the tweet in which his name is mentioned.

Francis Spinzer, one of Muller’s lawyers, said Brion first acknowledged his ‘unacceptable conduct’ and apologised for the same but now he had suddenly decided to go to court.

Both Muller and Brion, a media consultant and former head of TV channel Equidia, are expected to be in court when the hearing starts on Wednesday afternoon.

Muller started a viral hashtag in French in October 2018, #balancetonporc (“expose your pig”), which called on Frenchwomen to name and shame their ‘predators’.

On January 9, 2018, famous French actress Catherine Deneuve was one of 100 women who signed an open letter to denounce the #MeToo movement claiming it had gone too far.

“Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss,” the letter read.

“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not – and nor is men being gentlemanly a chauvinist attack.”

Veteran French actress Brigitte Bardot is also one of the latest high-profile celebrities to speak out against the movement, denouncing women in the “vast majority of cases” as “hypocritical, ridiculous” and “uninteresting”.