Natalie Portman speaks at Women's March

"Let's make a revolution of desire! That world we want to build is the opposite of puritanical. Time to think about every person's desires, needs, wants, and pleasure".


Natalie Portman, Women’s March, 2018: "Let's make a revolution of desire! That world we want to build is the opposite of puritanical. Time to think about every person's desires, needs, wants, and pleasure" / Time's Up


Natalie Portman, Women’s March in LA

"One year ago, on this stage, I was very pregnant, and we talked about the beginning of a revolution. Today, my new daughter is walking, and because of you the revolution is rolling. You told the world that time's up on violence. You told the world that time's up on silence. You told the world that it's time for a new day, time for a new locker room culture, time to think about every person's desires, needs, wants, and pleasure. So let's talk a little bit more about pleasure.

I keep hearing a particular gripe about this cultural shift, and maybe you have to some people have been calling this movement 'puritanical', or 'return to Victorian values' where men can't behave or speak sexually around dainty delicate fragile women... To these people I want to say the current system is puritanical. Maybe men can say and do whatever they want, but women cannot. The current system inhibits women from expressing our desires, wants, and needs, from seeking our pleasure.

Let me tell you about my own experience. I turned 12 on the set of my first film, The Professional (Léon, Luc Besson), in which I played a young girl who befriends a hit man and hopes to avenge the murder of her family. The character is simultaneously discovering and developing her woman heard, her voice and her desire. At that moment in my life I too was discovering my own womanhood, my own desire, and my own voice. I was so excited at 13, when the film was released, and my work and my art would have a human response. I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me. A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts and reviews, I understood very quickly, even as a thirteen-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually I would feel unsafe, and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort. So I quickly adjusted my behavior, I rejected any role that even had a kissing scene, and talked about that choice deliberately in interviews. I emphasized how bookish I was, and how serious I was, and I cultivated an elegant way of dressing. I built a reputation for basically being prudish conservative, nerdy, serious, in an attempt to feel that my body was safe, and that my voice would be listened to. At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me. I felt the need to cover my body, and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world, that I'm someone worthy of safety and respect. The response to my expression from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements serve to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism.

A world in which I could wear whatever I want, say whatever I want, and express my desire however I want, without fearing for my physical safety or reputation, that would be the world in which female desire and sexuality could have its greatest expression and fulfillment. That world we want to build is the opposite of puritanical. So I'd like to propose one way to continue moving this revolution forward, let's declare loud and clear 'this is what I want', 'this is what I need', 'this is what I desire', 'this is how you can help me achieve pleasure'. To people of all genders here with us today, let's find a space where we mutually consensually look out for each other's pleasure, and allow the vast limitless range of desire to be expressed. Let's make a revolution of desire!"