Here's What Natalie Portman Means When She Tells Women To 'Gossip Well'

"Stop this rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult."

In a must-watch speech, actress Natalie Portman recently spoke in support of the Time's Up movement at Variety's Power of Women event. Portman touched on the accusations of sexual abuse against former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, focusing in particular on reports that he sought to tarnish women's reputations.

Portman also spoke about the gender disparity that exists in many industries, dispelling the myth that women's choice to have children removes them from the workforce. "The reason women in nearly every industry are not represented in powerful positions is because women are being discriminated against or retaliated against, for hiring and for promotion," Portman said.

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"When they do get the jobs, they are often being harassed and assaulted," she continued, "and they are being paid less than their male counterparts — all of which coerce self-preserving women into finding safer options for themselves and different ways to feel valued."

Portman went on to give women advice about how they can help fight this culture of sexism and work toward safer workplaces, from donating money to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund to listening to women who come from different backgrounds and experiences. She also touched on how women speak about other women, advising them to "gossip well."

"Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult," Portman told the audience. "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's trying to discredit her reputation."

Several actresses, including Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, have accused Weinstein of blacklisting them from the industry. Judd even filed a lawsuit against Weinstein for damages, claiming he told Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson that she was a "nightmare" to work with after she refused his advances. Jackson himself has said that conversations with Weinstein kept both Judd and Sorvino off the casting list, calling it "the Miramax smear campaign in full swing."

In her speech, Portman also encouraged people in power to hire women who have had their reputations tarnished. Similarly, much of the conversation around the Weinstein accusations, as well as the recent Brett Kavanaugh hearings, has touched on the importance of believing women.

"Too often, they are questioned mercilessly about whether their side is legitimate," Amber Tamblyn wrote in an op-ed last year. "Especially if that side happens to accuse a man of stature, then that woman has to consider the scrutiny and repercussions she'll be subjected to by sharing her side."

As Mashable points out, Portman has spoken up about these issues several times before, including at the 2018 Golden Globes, when she called out the Best Director category for being all-male. She also spoke about her own scary encounter with a producer who invited her on his private plane with one bed set up.

"Nothing happened, I was not assaulted. I did make a point of saying, 'This does not make me feel comfortable,' and that was respected," she told PORTER magazine. "But that was super not okay, you know? That was really unacceptable and manipulative. I was scared."

Portman ended her speech by encouraging women to "use your fire to light other women's torches and make more light and more heat for all of us."

Hear Portman's full speech in the video below:

Cover image: magicinfoto / Shutterstock.com

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