A group of Quebec women has come together to push the #Metoo movement forward, issuing a public declaration and hoping to spark a discussion about how society can address issues of sexual violence and misconduct.
The declaration, entitled #EtMaintenant (roughly translated as "what now?"), was launched by two Quebec women on Sunday evening on the popular Quebec talk show Tout Le Monde en Parle. It has already garnered 25,000 signatures of support.
"This is a revolutionary, historical movement," said #EtMaintenant co-founder Francine Pelletier. "It is the first time that women complain, and something actually happens."
Pelletier, a well-known Quebec journalist and documentary filmmaker, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that the #EtMaintenant hashtag comes in response to women who have criticized the #metoo movement, including French film star Catherine Deneuve.
In a letter, signed by 100 women from France including Deneuve, the signatories argue that the wave of accusations against powerful men since the Harvey Weinstein scandal has gone too far.
"We don't think this movement should be deterred," said Pelletier. "We don't believe it's more negative than positive."
We must work together to ensure a safe environment for all. That’s why I’ve asked my officials to review our policies and I’ll be meeting with stakeholders later this week to help support solutions for the future #aftermetoo #etmaintenant— @melaniejoly
The #EtMaintenant founders say it's an important moment for victims of sexual aggression, women or men, to come forward and share their stories.
The declaration reads, in part, "This is not about playing the morality police, about deterring the game of seduction or a witch-hunt…. #MeToo is positive.… It's a force and it's here. And now? Let's keep moving forward with men at our side."
The movement's other founder, columnist Aurélie Lanctôt, said it's time to include men, who are sometimes also victims of sexual violence, in the discussions on sexual violence.
"I think the first step men can take to support women who are trying to fight against sexual violence is only to listen, to be compassionate about what they hear, to take seriously what women say when they express concern," she said, adding that society needs to come together to solve the issue.
"It is everywhere in society. It's in our universities, in every workplace, in our political institutions. It's everywhere so, yes, we should have unity on this matter."
Pelletier told Daybreak that in her view, none of this would be happening if it weren't for U.S. President Donald Trump, "someone who openly bragged about grabbing women."
This time, she says, women have even more motivation to keep pressing the issue.