Berlusconi Backs Deneuve's Views on Harassment
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi backed French actress Catherine Deneuve on Thursday for saying that men should be "free to hit on" women.
81-year-old Berlusconi, who went on trial for paying for sex with underage girls during "bunga bunga" parties, said in a TV interview: "It is natural women are happy that a man courts them. I'm not used to that, because women always court me."
"The important thing is that the courtship is elegant," he added.
Berlusconi was convicted in 2013 of having sex with an underage prostitute, an exotic dancer nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer", but was cleared two years later following an appeal.
He is now on trial accused of buying off witnesses in that case.
Deneuve is one of 100 French women who signed an open letter attacking the #MeToo movement for leading a witch-hunt against men.
The letter warned about a new "puritanism" as a result of recent sexual harassment scandals and condemned the wave of "denunciations" that followed rape allegations made against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
A group of French feminists later criticized the letter, accusing the signatories of trivializing sexual violence.
Weinstein admitted his behavior "caused a lot of pain" but denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
Billionaire Berlusconi's Go Italy party (FI) is currently doing well in opinion polls ahead of a March 4 election, although he is not able to run for office due to a tax fraud conviction.