Natalie Portman Advocates for Gender Parity in Forceful Speech: ‘Light A Woman’s Torch’
Natalie Portman did not hold back in her acceptance speech at Variety’s Power of Women event presented by Lifetime, making the case for improving efforts to ensure gender parity across industries.
After shouting out Time’s Up’s new CEO and president, Lisa Borders, the “Vox Lux” actress kicked off a speech centered around seven guidelines that she advised the audience to abide by, ranging from not depicting violence against women in the projects they’re involved in to donating to Time’s Up to hiring three women in positions that they don’t ordinarily occupy.
She namechecked Brett Ratner and his lawyer Marty Singer, who recently dropped a defamation case against Ratner’s accuser, Melanie Kohler, after Kohler received legal defense aid from Time’s Up.
“He saw that she could not be bullied legally just because he has hundreds of millions of dollars and she does not,” she explained.
Portman also talked at length about Harvey Weinstein, lamenting the fact that the Manhattan district attorney dropped one of the cases against him and slamming the way Weinstein’s concerted effort to discredit his victims robbed the industry of a whole generation of women.
She pointed out that women are matriculating from graduate schools at the same rate as men, yet, “in our industry…only 11% of the top 250 films last year were directed by women.”
“If any group you are part of only has people that look like you, change that group,” she implored, as part of her third principle, “listen. “Be embarrassed if everyone in your workplace looks like you.”
“Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult,” Portman advised, while elaborating on her fifth principle, “gossip well.” “If a man says a woman is crazy or difficult, ask him, ‘What bad thing did you do to her?’ That’s a code word. He is trying to discredit her reputation.”
Portman concluded by connecting humans’ phylogenetic class, mammals, to how the distribution of power works.
“Many men are behaving like we live in a zero-sum game. That if women get the respect, access and value we deserve, they will lose. But we know the message of the mammaries: The more milk you give, the more milk you make,” Portman explained. “The more love you give, the more love you have. And the same can be said of fire. When you light someone else’s torch with your own, you don’t lose your fire, you just make more light and more heat.”
“Light a woman’s torch,” she said. “The light will multiply and the heat will intensify for all of us.”
Watch the full speech above.
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