Natalie Portman has said how listening to women’s stories of alleged sexual misconduct by US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been “difficult” but “inspiring”.
The Black Swan actress said the stories of women, including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee, had remained unheard for too long.
Speaking at London’s Central Hall Westminster with historian and author Yuval Noah Harari, Portman added that social media had been key to sharing women’s stories.
The Oscar-winning actress said: “Tarana Burke who started the #MeToo movement clearly utilised technology in a very powerful way that really gave women a sense of solidarity and safety in numbers.
“We are seeing it today in the very emotionally impacting Kavanaugh hearing in Washington, in my country, which is very difficult to watch but also very inspiring because we are hearing people who have been silenced for a very, very long time.
“People didn’t realise how widespread it was and people thought they were alone. Technology made them realise there were others like them. And not even others like them, but others with the same perpetrator.”
President Donald Trump has nominated Mr Kavanaugh – who denies accusations of sexual misconduct – for a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the body that has the final word on key issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
Portman, a prominent member of the #TimesUp movement, said it was still too hard for women to come forward.
She said: “Unfortunately, it is still so devastating for people to come forward. Their lives are extremely impacted and really they are terrorised, they are harassed. They have terrible, horrible repercussions for coming forward still, after all this today.”
She also described sexual harassment as a “cultural disease”, adding that even despite the #MeToo movement, it remains commonplace.
She said: “Some people’s reaction has been ‘Oh that’s just a bad day’. But that is an example of how ubiquitous it is, not that it is okay.
“This is a widespread cultural disease that we are living with. It sickens me. Every woman has had a date with a guy who has been too aggressive with her. She’s felt like she has needed to leave at some point. That’s a problem.”
She added: “That doesn’t mean we need to punish all the men. It means we need to change the behaviours in society.
“We need to show our boys and our girls and those who identify as in between that that behaviour is something we are no longer comfortable with.”
Jerusalem-born Portman is a dual Israeli-American citizen. She studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where Israeli Harari now teaches.
At the event the pair discussed free will, terrorism and artificial intelligence to mark the release of Harari’s third book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.