Ellen Page Was Outed and Sexually Assaulted by Men in Hollywood, Is Ready for the Reckoning

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.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 840 articles for us.

11 Comments

  1. Ellen Page came out before me, in the same year I did. I watched her HRC speech over and over again, breath held, heart thumping, all of the blood leaving my feet like it does whenever I’m about to do something that scares the shit out of me. I was so grateful to her then, for her strength and courage.

    Today I am even more grateful. Thank you, Ellen, for your words, and as far as these assholes go?

  2. I vaguely remember reading some internet headline (2007?) when I was in college, about Ellen Page being photographed kissing a girl at a food truck– the article was like, ew why doesn’t she just come out, she’s not fooling anyone; like I remember it being hella mean!! And it freaked me out bc I was super insistent that I was straight at the time, but also was starting grapple internally w/ feelings that maybe I wasn’t totally straight– it just scared the shit out of me that someone could expose a person like that and instantaneously open them up to public ridicule in this way. Its heart wrenching to read her telling of these abuses she’s been subjected to throughout her career. AND, I’m way fucking proud of her for speaking out! ?

  3. Wow, her coming out speech really does take on a whole new meaning in light of these revelations. Her interviews after Hard Candy also take on new significance in light of what she experienced at 16, around the time she made that movie. Again and again she was asked if she was worried about people thinking she hated men, often with a heteronormative implication (aren’t you worried that boys won’t date you?). And each time, she schooled them on the real danger of men’s violence. She was polite and restrained but seemed annoyed. The questions were stupid to begin with, but this FB post adds another layer.

    I hope that her contextualization of her decision to work with Woody Allen will encourage people to reconsider how and why so many women still star in his films. Page had already experienced harassment and assault herself by the time she accepted the role, and had learned that working with abusers was a normal part of being an actor. I always hoped that one day actors who worked with Allen would start expressing regret over that and it doesn’t surprise me to see that Ellen Page is among the first.

    • Yeah I think for me, this really reiterates that actors like Page and other famous figures don’t owe us explanations – when they haven’t come out, or even when they’ve done something like work on a Woody Allen movie as a young person. They work in an impossible industry, and they’re allowed to do whatever they need to do, re: privacy etc., to stay safe.

  4. Thank you for bringing my attention to this Heather!

    Also thank you for linking that NYT post on Louis C.K.—Riese told me about this a few weeks ago, and I’m glad to see that his career is finally being dismantled.

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