Jane Fonda has revealed she is a survivor of rape and sexual abuse.
"I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child," the "Grace and Frankie" star said. "I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing."
WOMEN OF THE WORLD: Meet the real #JaneFonda. In honor of upcoming #InternationalWomensDay, the film icon sits down with fellow Oscar-winning activist #BrieLarson to discuss feminism, finding her voice, and how women are changing the world in #THEEDIT. Photographed by @nicobustos. Styled by @simonrobins1000.
She added, "I know young girls who’ve been raped and didn’t even know it was rape. They think, 'It must have been because I said 'no' the wrong way.'"
The Oscar-winning actress noted she often felt "diminished" by the men in her life, saying they were "wonderful but victims of a patriarchal belief system." When she first saw Eve Ensler perform "The Vagina Monologues," she learned to embrace feminism and speak up.
"While I was laughing, my feminism carried from my head into my DNA. It took a long time, though, because I was brought up with the disease to please."
Fonda has been a feminist for almost 50 years now, supporting both the Rape Foundation and Rape Treatment Center, and the V-Day movement, which works to stop violence against women and girls. Much of her charitable work stems from her mother, Frances Ford Seymour, who was also sexually abused as a child. She committed suicide at the age of 42 when Jane was only 12-years-old.
"One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realize that [rape and abuse is] not our fault. We were violated and it’s not right."
Fonda and Larson also discussed the pay gap in Hollywood, with Fonda saying she never got paid a huge amount of money because she "never thought [she] was worth it."
"For me, it was just the way things were. Guys earned more. I am so glad people are feeling righteous anger about it now," she said.
This conversation led to Larson asking about the power of saying "no" in their careers, a word she says is the "only power" she has in when it comes to choosing roles. Fonda, however, said it was something she never thought about and that she wished she would have started saying it earlier in her career.
"Unlike you, Brie, it took me 60 years to learn how to say 'no,'" she said. "If anyone offered me anything I would say 'yes.' I took parts I wasn’t right for and I was taken advantage of. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Now, I would say, 'No. This is a piece of shit. I don’t like the way you’re treating me,' And leave."
She concluded, "If only I knew then what I do now."