We already know that more than six women have accused Brett Ratner of sexual harassment and worse. Following the initial story, more women began contacting publications with their own allegations against the director.
The latest woman in Hollywood to share her #MeToo story was Ellen Page. And she describes experiencing horrifying, homophobic harassment from Ratner while she was still a teenager.
And Ellen’s experience with Brett Ratner isn’t the only one that she’s sharing from her teenage years in the entertainment industry.
Ellen’s lengthy post on Facebook begins … bluntly.
“‘You should f–k 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 f–k her to make her realize she’s gay.’ He was the film’s director, Brett Ratner.”
In case there’s any doubt, costar Anna Paquin has tweeted that she stands with Ellen Page, and was present for that particular comment.
“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.”
Ellen Page is one of the most famous young gay women in Hollywood, but sexuality is complicated. Deciding when to come out is more so.
No one should be outed, particularly in such a disgusting way.
“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.”
That wasn’t the end of it.
“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.””
“This public, aggressive outing left me with long standing feelings of shame, one of the most destructive results of homophobia. Making someone feel ashamed of who they are is a cruel manipulation, designed to oppress and repress. I was robbed of more than autonomy over my ability to define myself.”
Remember, there are still young actors whoa re advised against coming out when they get to Hollywood.
Sexuality can influence your career. It can also impact how fans perceive you.
(In recent decades, the prevalence of the name “Ellen” has taken a plunge exactly twice — once, when Ellen DeGeneres came out. Another when Ellen Page came out. Bigotry is still all around us)
“Ratner’s comment replayed in my mind many times over the years as I encountered homophobia and coped with feelings of reluctance and uncertainty about the industry and my future in it. The difference is that I can now assert myself and use my voice to to fight back against the insidious queer- and transphobic attitude in Hollywood and beyond.”
It’s so good that she uses her platform to make the world a better place.
“Hopefully having the position I have, I can help people who may be struggling to be accepted and allowed to be who they are –to thrive. Vulnerable young people without my advantages are so often diminished and made to feel they have no options for living the life they were meant to joyously lead.”
There was more between her and Brett Ratner, however.
“I got into an altercation with Brett at a certain point. He was pressuring me, in front of many people, to don a t-shirt with ‘Team Ratner’ on it.”
Who would want to wear a shirt like that?
“I said no and he insisted. I responded, ‘I am not on your team.’ Later in the day, producers of the film came to my trailer to say that I ‘couldn’t talk like that to him.'”
This is where the huge power imbalance between young actors and big-name directors comes into play.
“I was being reprimanded, yet he was not being punished nor fired for the blatantly homophobic and abusive behavior we all witnessed. I was an actor that no one knew. I was eighteen and had no tools to know how to handle the situation.”
Sadly, her experience at 18 wasn’t Ellen’s first foray into harassment in Hollywood.
“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.”
Sadly, that is so true.
“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.'”
Probably so that he could, if caught, throw up his hands and say “she came onto me!” Which shouldn’t matter.
But, by our reasoning, groping someone’s leg and telling her to make a move is the first move and the second.
Ellen Page got away, but it was a rude awakening about her professional life.
“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.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
“An adult authority figure for whom I worked intended to exploit me, physically.”
And it got worse.
“I was sexually assaulted by a grip months later.”
Horrible. No one should have to endure that.
“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.”
Ellen Page almost seems to count herself lucky — when she talks about others in Hollywood who have been preyed upon and died too soon.
“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.”
Naming abusers — even if we all know who we’re talking about — carries heavy risks. Massive lawsuits, blackmail conspiracies. A sternly worded legal letter can be enough to make some claims go away.
We’ve recently heard new claims about Corey Haim’s abusers, but unfortunately Ellen Page could be talking about so many different young victims of predatory men in power.
“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?”
That’s a good point. We shouldn’t shame people for remaining silent out of fear.
But we can still praise Ellen Page for coming forward with her #MeToo story.