If you don’t know Ellen Page by name, you definitely know her by face — she starred in the quirky team pregnancy film Juno, had a role alongside Joseph Gordon Levitt in Inception, and played Shadowcat in the newer X-Men movies. The beloved actress came out as gay in 2014, but she wasn’t always so open about her sexuality. In fact, for a while, she wasn’t sure what her sexuality even was.
Earlier today, Page accused X-Men: The Last Stand director Bret Ratner of not only outing her as gay, but also for a sexual harassment. The star wrote on Facebook:
“You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.” He said this about me during a cast and crew “meet and greet” before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand. I was eighteen years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: “You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.” He was the film’s director, Brett Ratner.
I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself. 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. This man, who had cast me in the film, started our months of filming at a work event with this horrific, unchallenged plea. He “outed” me with no regard for my well-being, an act we all recognize as homophobic. I proceeded to watch him on set say degrading things to women. I remember a woman walking by the monitor as he made a comment about her “flappy pussy”.
Actress Anna Paquin took to Twitter to confirm that Ratner had made the comment to Page.
This isn’t the first time Brett Ratner was accused of sexual harassment or misconduct — in fact, six women have spoken out against him within the past week and a half. Ellen Page is unfortunately just one of the many who have had to deal with his abuse.
But Page didn’t end her post there. She went on to describe other instances of abuse she received in Hollywood, which she claimed weren’t as “secret” as celebrities were trying to make them out to be.
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. You know who they are; they’ve been discussed behind closed doors as often as Weinstein was. If I, a person with significant privilege, remain reluctant and at such risk simply by saying a person’s name, what are the options for those who do not have what I have?
And Page is right — the sexual crimes of these people go beyond just themselves. After all, as we’re all slowly learning, Harvey Weinstein didn’t act alone.
Bill Cosby was known to be predatory. The crimes were his, but many were complicit. Many more chose to look the other way. Harvey was known to be predatory. The crimes were his, but many were complicit. Many more chose to look the other way. We continue to celebrate filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was convicted of drugging and anally raping a young girl and who fled sentencing. A fugitive from justice. I’ve heard the industry decry Weinstein’s behavior and vow to affect meaningful change. But let’s be truthful: the list is long and still protected by the status quo. We have work to do. We cannot look the other way.
Page also addressed the fact that she was once in a movie made by Woody Allen, a man who has been very publicly accused of sexual assault toward his adopted daughter. She expressed remorse, calling it the biggest “regret of [her] career,” and explained that she’d felt pressured to take the role . She admitted her mistake, claiming she had the power to say “no” and that she should have.
But Page’s words are powerful. She went on to explain that yes, this is a Hollywood epidemic, but it isn’t just that.
What I want the most, is for this to result in healing for the victims. For Hollywood to wake up and start taking some responsibility for how we all have played a role in this. I want us to reflect on this endemic issue and how this power dynamic of abuse leads to an enormous amount of suffering. Violence against women is an epidemic in this country and around the world. How is this cascade of immorality and injustice shaping our society? One of the greatest risks to a pregnant woman’s health in the United States is murder. Trans women of color in this country have a life expectancy of thirty-five. Why are we not addressing this as a society? We must remember the consequences of such actions. Mental health issues, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, to name a few.
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.
I am so proud of Ellen Page for speaking up, as well as the hundreds of people who have come forward to out their abusers. It’s an incredibly delicate topic, but it’s something that needs to be addressed, and now. According to Page, we are a revolution. She’s right.
You can read Page’s full Facebook status here.