This has been some kind of week in the long awaited reckoning of systemic misogyny in this country, not only with the shocking election results on Tuesday — in which record numbers of women, people of color, and trans women unseated white male Republican incumbents in all levels of government — but also with a litany of deeply reported pieces about famous men living lifestyles of abuse. The New York Times reported on Louis C.K.’s long history of forcing women to watch him masturbate. The Washington Post reported on Roy Moore’s multiple sexual relationships with underage girls. This on the heels of the Kevin Spacey story. And the Harvey Weinstein story. And the quagmire of cover up and deceit story that followed the Weinstein story. That’s really the thing that all these stories have in common: Men in power abusing their power as other men in power enable them and suppress the voices of their victims.
As these stories have continued to break, women in Hollywood have finally been able to speak out about the sexual assaults, advances, and harassment they’ve been forced to endure throughout their careers. Ellen Page joined that group today, opening up on Facebook about the abuse and homophobia that has dogged her almost since she began acting as a child.
It’s a harrowing post. It opens with an event that happened at the hands of Brett Ratner on the set of X Men: The Last Stand.
“You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.” He said this about me during a cast and crew “meet and greet” before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand. I was eighteen years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: “You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.” […] I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself. I knew I was gay, but did not know, so to speak. I felt violated when this happened. I looked down at my feet, didn’t say a word and watched as no one else did either. This man, who had cast me in the film, started our months of filming at a work event with this horrific, unchallenged plea. He “outed” me with no regard for my well-being, an act we all recognize as homophobic. I proceeded to watch him on set say degrading things to women. I remember a woman walking by the monitor as he made a comment about her “flappy pussy.”
She talks about how long it took her to come to terms with her own sexuality after that, the shame she felt, and details several other exploitive encounters that she has suffered and witnessed during her time in Hollywood.
When I was sixteen a director took me to dinner (a professional obligation and a very common one). He fondled my leg under the table and said, “You have to make the move, I can’t.” I did not make the move and I was fortunate to get away from that situation. It was a painful realization: my safety was not guaranteed at work. An adult authority figure for whom I worked intended to exploit me, physically. I was sexually assaulted by a grip months later. I was asked by a director to sleep with a man in his late twenties and to tell them about it. I did not. This is just what happened during my sixteenth year, a teenager in the entertainment industry.
You really should read the whole thing. I went back and watched Ellen Page’s coming out speech from 2014 after I read her post and it took on a significance and revealed even more bravery than I understood at the time.
The conclusion Page comes to in her Facebook post is that “women of color, trans and queer and indigenous women have been leading this fight for decades (forever actually). Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Winona LaDuke, Miss Major, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, to name a few.” And that she wants to add her voices to theirs to bring systemic and systematic sexism and sexual abuse in Hollywood (and everywhere else) to its knees and destroy it.
From her lips to the goddess’ ears.
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