Natalie Portman wants you to take the word “crazy” out of your vocabulary, especially when it comes to talking about other women.
At Variety‘s “Power of Women” luncheon on Friday (October 12), the Oscar winner delivered a powerful speech on how women can best support other women. One important tip? “Gossip well.” “Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult,” Portman said. “If a man says to you that a woman is crazy or difficult, ask him, ‘What bad thing did you do to her?'” she continued. “That’s a code word. He’s trying to discredit her reputation. Make efforts to hire people who’ve had their reputations smeared in retaliation.”
In the same speech, she outlined several other ways women can serve as allies to one another. In addition to ceasing the “crazy” narrative, Portman also pointed to the importance of surrounding oneself with a diverse community, especially in instances of activism. “If any group you’re in has only people who look like you, change that group,” she said. “It’s an awakening experience to hear from women who have different experiences of marginalization.” She added, “Be embarrassed if everyone in your workplace looks like you. Pay attention to physical ability, age, race, sexual orientation, gender identity.”
For another thing, Portman said, “Don’t shy away from consequences for those who abuse their power. [They’re] not going to have a change of behavior out of the goodness of their hearts.”
Portman has historically been an advocate for women and has repeatedly spoken out about gender inequality in the film industry. When presenting the award for Best Director at the 2018 Golden Globes, she called out the “all-male” nominees, and made a statement in support of Catt Sadler (who left E! News earlier this year when she found out she was making less than her male counterparts) while live on the air with E!.
In November 2017, in the wake of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, Portman also opened up about her own personal experiences with sexism in Hollywood. “When I heard everything coming out, I was like, wow, I’m so lucky that I haven’t had this. And then, on reflection, I was like, OK, definitely never been assaulted, definitely not, but I’ve had discrimination or harassment on almost everything I’ve ever worked on in some way,” she said at the 2017 Vulture Festival. “I went from thinking I don’t have a story to thinking, oh wait, I have 100 stories. And I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves, of things that we just took for granted as like, this is part of the process.”