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Natalie Portman Gives Powerful Speech on Gender Parity in Hollywood

Nothing but respect for our queen of Naboo.

Variety’s Power of Women luncheon brought together the women of Hollywood for a moving discussion of gender parity, Time’s Up, and the #MeToo Movement. Natalie Portman, along with fellow honorees Emma Gonzalez, Tiffany Haddish, Regina King, and Lena Waithe, took the stage to give voice to the anger and frustration felt by women in the industry, while touching on the universal struggles all women in the workplace endure.

In her speech (which is well worth watching in full), Portman discussed her dismay with the Kavanaugh confirmation, while also lamenting the fact that a year has gone by since the Harvey Weinstein story broke, and Weinstein remains free (with one charge dropped). She then discusses the pervading myth that women drop out of competitive workplace environments to have children, when the reality is that most mothers not only want to continue working … they must continue working to support their family. Portman said, “It’s much more likely for a woman to stay in her job for her children, than leave for her children … let’s stop saying that women are choosing to drop out of the work force because of their families, that’s wrong.”

Portman continued, saying “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.” Because of this widespread discrimination, Portman said that the most important part of the Time’s Up movement was launching their legal defense fund, and cited a defamation lawsuit that Brett Ratner and his lawyer Marty Singer had filed against Melanie Kohler, who had accused the director of misconduct. Once Time’s Up funded Kohler’s defense, the case was quickly dropped. Portman said of Ratner, “He saw that she could not be bullied legally just because he has hundreds of millions of dollars and she does not.”

The actress also urged the audience not just to hire women, but to create a workplace that’s representative of all races, ages sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities. “If any group you are part of only has people that look like you, change that group. Be embarrassed if everyone in your workplace looks like you.”

She also urged the audience to “gossip well”, and avoid the career-damaging tropes of the “crazy and difficult” woman, saying “If a man says 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.”

Portman finished her speech by urging the audience to help more women in the industry with a powerful call to arms:

“Many men are behaving like we live in a zero-sum game. That if women get the respect, access and value we deserve, they will lose. But we know the message of the mammaries: The more milk you give, the more milk you make,” Portman explained. “The more love you give, the more love you have. And the same can be said of fire. When you light someone else’s torch with your own, you don’t lose your fire, you just make more light and more heat.”

(via Variety, image: screengrab)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.