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Natalie Portman Gave A Powerful Speech About Her Experience of 'Sexual Terrorism' at the Women's March


Wearing a "Time's Up" t-shirt, Portman recounts the objectification of her body she experienced as a 12 and 13-year-old, during the release of her first feature film.

Speaking in Los Angeles at the Women's March this past Saturday, Oscar-winner Natalie Portman opened up about her own experience in Hollywood, and the culture of "sexual terrorism" that guided and prohibited her career path.

Wearing a "Time's Up" t-shirt, Portman recounts the objectification of her body she experienced as a 12 and 13-year-old, during the release of her first feature film, The Professional. She recalls fan letters containing rape fantasies, countdown clocks waiting for her to turn 18 and become "legal," and speculation about her "budding breasts." It led her to avoiding expressing her sexuality onscreen in any way. The full transcription of her speech is available from CNNbelow:

"Let me tell you about my own experience. I turned 12 on the set of my first film, The Professional, in which I played a young girl who befriends a hitman and hopes to avenge the murder of her family. The character is simultaneously discovering and developing her womanhood, her voice, and her desire. At that moment in my life, I too was discovering my own womanhood, my own desire, and my own voice. I was so excited at 13 when the film was released and my work and my art would have a human response. I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me. A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews.

I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe. And that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort. So I quickly adjusted my behavior. I rejected any role that even had a kissing scene and talked about that choice deliberately in interviews. I emphasized how bookish I was and how serious I was. And I cultivated an elegant way of dressing. I built a reputation for basically being prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious, in an attempt to feel that my body was safe and that my voice would be listened to.

At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me. I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world: That I'm someone worthy of safety and respect. The response to my expression from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism."

You can also watch the speech below:

Portman was one of many celebrity women to speak and share their own stories of sexual harassment this weekend supporting the Women's March. Another notable was Halsey's, who shared a poem she wrote titled "A Story Like Mine," which has since gone viral across the internet:

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