The men’s petition in the November issue of the magazine Causeur was signed by figures including the novelist and editor Frederic Beigbeder, several journalists and columnists, comedians, actors and the lawyer Richard Malka, who has defended clients including the former IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The petition stated “some of us have gone, go, or will go to prostitutes – and we are not even ashamed”.
They added “everyone should be free to sell their charms, and even to love doing it.”
But feminists and the government expressed outrage at what they saw as the hijacking of the feminist writer de Beauvoir’s 1971 abortion manifesto in which 343 famous women, including Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau, admitted having had an abortion, something which left them liable for arrest. That petition, which the media later dubbed the manifesto of the “343 salopes” (s**ts or b**ches) helped lead to the legalisation of abortion in France.