It’s probably not all that surprising that actor Natalie Portman, who’s worked in the film industry for over two decades, has her own #MeToo story to share. But the extent to which rape culture allowed her to be targeted, objectified, and harassed in the public eye — even as a teenager — should disturb us all.
Speaking at the Women’s March in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, 2018, Portman opened up about her first experiences dealing with what she described as “sexual terrorism.”
“I turned 12 on the set of my first film, ‘The Professional,'” Portman explained on stage. “[At 13] I excitedly opened my first fan mail — to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me.”
She continued, noting the various ways in which she was sexualized publicly long before adulthood:
“A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews. I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe, and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort.”
Speaking at an event with roughly 600,000 supporters, Portman appeared willing to revisit a painful part of her past if it meant sparking positive change for our future. Her outspokenness isn’t all that surprising to those paying attention though.
Portman has become a vocal advocate for women in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Earlier this month at the Golden Globes, Portman dressed in all black in support of Time’s Up — an initiative to combat sexual harassment and assault far beyond the world of filmmaking. The campaign has raked in millions of dollars in funding for victims everywhere who may not have the finances to pursue legal action on their own.
The Oscar-winning actor made waves during the ceremony by pointing out all five nominees up for best director were men. “And here are all the male nominees,” she said on stage to both applause and jeers from the crowd.
Portman is ready for a cultural shift that allows women to feel empowered to speak up whenever they choose.
“I’d like to propose one way to continue moving this revolution forward: let’s declare, loud and clear, this is what I want, this is what I need, this is what I desire, this is how you can help me achieve pleasure,” she said boisterously on Saturday. “To people of all genders here with us today, let’s find a space where we mutually, consensually look out for each other’s pleasure, and allow the vast, limitless range of desire to be expressed.”
Watch Portman’s speech at the Women’s March Los Angeles below: