Natalie Portman has spoken out about being sexualised early in her career, saying that she experienced “sexual terrorism” from the age of 13.
Portman was speaking at the Los Angeles leg of the Women’s March 2018 when she opened up about her experiences after appearing in first film Léon: The Professional in 1994.
During her speech, Portman revealed how her first fan mail involved a “rape fantasy” written by a man, that a local radio station launched a countdown to when she was “legal to sleep with” and how critics wrote about her “budding breasts” in reviews.
“I was so excited at 13 when the film was released and my work and my art would have a human response,” Portman said. “I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me. 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.”
“At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me,” Portman went on to say. “I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world: That I’m someone worthy of safety and respect. The response to my expression from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements served to control my behaviour through an environment of sexual terrorism.”
Watch Portman’s speech in the video below:
Natalie Portman said experiencing "sexual terrorism" at the age of 13 made her feel the need to cover her body and inhibit expression while addressing thousands in LA gathered for the Women's March https://t.co/G6ZlWlxSuB pic.twitter.com/hDBkTEHCod
— CNN (@CNN) January 22, 2018
Elsewhere at the LA Women’s March, Scarlett Johansson appeared to call out James Franco.
“How could a person publicly stand by an organisation that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?” Johansson asked during her speech, adding: “I want my pin back, by the way.”