Natalie Portman’s fiery speech: ‘Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult’

Variety’s Power of Women: Los Angeles Presented by Lifetime

Here are some photos of Natalie Portman at Variety’s Power of Women event on Friday. Her dress is Dior, just FYI. Her appearance at this event wasn’t about fashion or hair or makeup or anything like that. Portman was there as a representative of and for Time’s Up. This month is the one-year anniversary of The New Yorker and the New York Times’ dual reports on Harvey Weinstein and the formation of Time’s Up. Everything changed a year ago, for Hollywood at least. We thought it would usher in a new era of believing women, and that women could feel safe in telling their stories publicly.

One year later, Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court and not that much has really changed in Hollywood. Which is why Natalie Portman’s speech at the Variety event just felt… cathartic. It was real. I realize this post will probably get, like, ten comments, because it’s a Monday and everything already feels like a dumpster fire, but I would seriously recommend watching this video. Around the two-minute mark is when she starts in about Harvey Weinstein and the rest of it is just barely controlled rage on her part.

She goes off on how Harvey Weinstein continued to professionally and financially abuse the women he assaulted or raped, and went on to talk about what men in the industry could do to make changes, like “If any group you’re in has people who only look like you, change that group. It’s an awakening experience to hear from women who have different experiences of marginalisation.” She makes a brilliant point about Hollywood gossip and the responsibility to “gossip well”: “Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult. If a man says to you that 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.” Natalie Portman is fire.

Variety’s Power of Women: Los Angeles Presented by Lifetime

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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41 Responses to “Natalie Portman’s fiery speech: ‘Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult’”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    Well said and well done, Natalie

  2. Miss Margo says:

    I love her so much and love that she is so vocal. This is what we need. Women standing up for other women and calling out the learned behavior of calling women “crazy”.

    • SK says:

      I briefly dated a guy who pursued me hard. Something felt off and I wisely walked away. I later found out that he is a total narcissist and liar, possibly a sociopath as well who used to hit his ex-girlfriend, cheat on her constantly and screw over his friends in business. He was love-bombing me – a classic narcissistic technique. What was it that triggered my unease? Well, first of all he called all of his exes crazy which raised my eyebrows – HE was the common denominator, what was he doing to make these women “crazy” exactly? Then when he was pursuing me, if I ever called him out on something or disagreed with him, he would tell me to stop acting crazy. That pissed me off to no end. Unfortunately for him, I’m well aware of gaslighting techniques and am a “crazy feminist” so I would call him out on what he was doing and deconstruct it exactly in a calm way and shut him down – he didn’t know what to do with that. So glad I walked away and men who call women “crazy” is a huge red flag for me now.

  3. The Other Katherine says:

    This may be the most I have ever liked Natalie Portman.

  4. Tiffany says:

    You know what, I’ll say it, like the message, not the messenger.

    Portman is problematic and she is hitching her wagon to the cool kids table. Not sorry for one word of this.

    • Natalie S says:

      I agree.

    • CaffeinatedPots says:

      I have to agree. It’s not that her message is untrue. It’s just that it is weird to hear from a Polanskapologist.

    • Carrie says:

      You know what, I’ll say it. Any woman judging Natalie Portman negatively at this moment is a big problem that’s hiding in wait to disrupt any progress we need to make.

  5. Case says:

    She is so intelligent and well-spoken. Love her.

  6. babco says:

    Slow clap, she nailed it.

  7. Cee says:

    Are you listening Brad Pitt and his fans. He is not the saint and nice guy that he pretends just because he is handsome.

    • Susannah says:

      Some of us have thoughtful reasons while we’re fans of Brad Pitt which have nothing to do with deifying him or even thinking he’s handsome. I’m a fan of Brad Pitt because of his production company Plan B. I think the movies he’s been producing such as 12 Years A Slave and Moonlight are important films and I’m glad he was able to help bring them to the public.

  8. Faithmobile says:

    Wow! Love that speech, well done Natalie!

  9. JustJJ says:

    THANK YOU. The second a man says his ex is “crazy” is the second I start getting the hell away from him ASAP. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse and the subsequent smear campaign and silencing of what really happened to me for years, I am SO grateful
    she reminded the world to cut this out.

    • ANDREA1 says:

      This just brings Angelina joile to mind.. how she is been portrayed as crazy and difficult

    • JadedBrit says:

      @JustJJ Me too. He spent all the time in between being violent in endless criticism, telling me to “stop fighting him” and “I should do what I was told”. Any dissent and I became “crazy” and was given a lecture about the “correct” answer I was expected to give. Yet he, apparently, was totally normal.
      Ladies – if your chap calls you crazy, or his exes crazy, run like the wind. You simply don’t need any abuse in your lives.

    • Call_Me_Al says:

      Agree! Or, when my friends start dating a man who is divorced, and THEY start saying his ex is “Crazy”, I’m like, “Ok….”

    • Meg says:

      yes! me too. ‘crazy’ is a word used to write off someone because they don’t want anyone to see the truth

    • Carrie says:

      Yep. Crazy, complicated, difficult… all words used to discredit a girl or woman and to silence her, limit her supports, isolate and condemn her.

      Natalie Portman earned all my respect here and that’s never going away. She’s excellent and we need to champion what she said here.

      • Brian Brown says:

        Except, some bitches is crazy, just like some bastards are crazy. Sorry. Having a penis does not make you a demon and having a vagina does not make you a saint. It takes all types to make this world.

  10. Cran says:

    ‘For one year Do Not Harm Women. Let’s see how that goes.’

    She gave a really great speech. I appreciate that she gave specific actions we can all take. Even as she explicitly acknowledges the power held by the women in that room reminding them of the unique position they hold to uplift other women. If every women in that room rise to the challenge I think the impact will be exponential.

    Wildfires are created by sparks. I’m all in for this wildfire.

  11. Cay says:

    If any group you are in has only people who look like you, change that group.

  12. adastraperaspera says:

    “Those who abuse power are not going to have a change of behavior out of the goodness of their hearts.” Powerful words. Great speech. Also, the point about “code” words being used to discredit women (and girls). My uncle always taunted my mother during family gatherings, calling her “crazy” and “mouthy.” I found out many years later that he had sexually abused her and my aunt. They are dead now, but he–though older than them–is still alive. It haunts me. The damage is personal. The personal is political. Time to take these abusers down.

  13. manta says:

    Let’s just hope she had that conversation with her own parents and handlers, the ones who didn’t bat an eyelash when it came to sign a 13 year old on a project with Besson.
    You know the man who dated a 15 year old, married her and impregnated her at 16.
    Totally the kind of mentor or healthy influence you’d wish for your teen.

    • perplexed says:

      I was wondering about that — the script itself was weird yet her parents allowed her to do some of the scenes (which were eventually cut, but she still had to act them out).

    • Birdix says:

      It seems unfair to pin that on her though—you don’t pick your parents. She’s using her platform to advance these ideas, to call a room full of people to action. Why do her parents’ actions matter?

      • perplexed says:

        I don’t think her parents’ actions reflect on her. I think we’re just side-eyeing her parents. She often praises them, but I have wondered why they let her do that film.

    • Veronica S. says:

      I imagine they were too caught up in the opportunity to think about the implications of it, which is…not a good parenting choice, don’t get me wrong, but I can see where she may have decided to forgive it over the years considering it did launch her career.

      This being said, it is extremely unsettling to read about how much inappropriate behavior she dealt in the years that followed, though, more so knowing that Besson’s relationship with his second wife is what inspired it. Ugh.

    • Carrie says:

      Think carefully about what you just said here. Then reflect on Natalie here. If you can’t connect it, I respectfully suggest reading some child abuse print resources.

  14. Newmoon says:

    Like her fire.

    Anyone interested in female empowerment & moving #metoo forward should check out Kasia Urbaniak’s work. You’re welcome.

  15. Ms Lib says:

    May all women follow her lead.

  16. Mira says:

    Powerful. Thank you, Natalie.

  17. Molly says:

    Yes. Keep calling a-holes out.

  18. Christina says:

    I am so angry. Thank you, Kaiser and NP.

  19. Lilly says:

    Thank you Natalie. Truth and love from a long time admirer.

  20. Valerie says:

    I don’t really like her but I love what she has to say.

  21. Meg says:

    I had naracsssits in my life in the past and in support groups we were taught that if someone you meet has a ‘crazy’ ex girlfriend for example, that usually means he mistreated her and is trying to control your image of her so you won’t realize he’s the guilty party. ‘crazy’ in general is a word used to write off women to not listen to the ins and outs of a situation which of course a guilty party would want you to do so others don’t find out they are actually guilty themselves

  22. Crassino Royale says:

    Good one Natalie! I have personally pledged to ask “What did YOU do to Her?” when I hear the words “crazy, difficult.” I add to her caché of good resources a clap back I’ve been using for a while: “Don’t try to discredit her. I can make up my own mind about a person. And saying she is difficult or crazy makes up my mind about YOU.” (exit quickly).

    p.s. stay away from gaslighters. Run.