“You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.”
This, Ellen Page says in a new Facebook post about her experiences in Hollywood, is what director Brett Ratner — who is currently the subject of several sexual harassment and assault allegations — told an older woman to do to Page before they began filming X Men: The Last Stand.
“I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself,” writes Page. “I knew I was gay, but did not know, so to speak. I felt violated when this happened. I looked down at my feet, didn’t say a word and watched as no one else did either.”
Page was 18 years old at the time — and, as she writes in painful detail, already very aware of how powerful men could exert their control.
I have been a professional actor since the age of ten. I’ve had the good fortune to work with many honorable and respectful collaborators both behind and in front of the camera. But the behavior I’m describing is ubiquitous. They (abusers), want you to feel small, to make you insecure, to make you feel like you are indebted to them, or that your actions are to blame for their unwelcome advances.
When I was sixteen a director took me to dinner (a professional obligation and a very common one). He fondled my leg under the table and said, “You have to make the move, I can’t.” I did not make the move and I was fortunate to get away from that situation. It was a painful realization: my safety was not guaranteed at work. An adult authority figure for whom I worked intended to exploit me, physically. I was sexually assaulted by a grip months later. I was asked by a director to sleep with a man in his late twenties and to tell them about it. I did not. This is just what happened during my sixteenth year, a teenager in the entertainment industry.
Look at the history of what’s happened to minors who’ve described sexual abuse in Hollywood. Some of them are no longer with us, lost to substance abuse and suicide. Their victimizers? Still working. Protected even as I write this.
Page’s post is thoughtful, thorough, and wrenching. She takes pains not just to talk about her own experiences, but to connect the larger epidemic of violence against women — especially trans women of color — to the pervasive lack of respect that can lead to this kind of harassment and assault.
It is worth reading in full, but the crux of it lies here:
What are we afraid to say and why can’t we say it? Women, particularly the most marginalized, are silenced, while powerful abusers can scream as loudly as they want, lie as much as they want and continue to profit through it all.
This is a long awaited reckoning. It must be.
Read Page’s full statement on Facebook.