Jane Fonda was inspired to get involved in feminist causes after she was raped and sexually abused as a child.
The movie veteran admits she blamed herself for the abuse she suffered for years, because she was brought up to feel “diminished” as a young woman.
“To show you the extent to which a patriarchy takes a toll on females, I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and 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,” she tells actress Brie Larson in an explosive new interview for Net-a-Porter’s The Edit.
“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’. One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realise that (rape and abuse is) not our fault. We were violated and it’s not right.”
The 79-year-old has been an ardent supporter of women’s issues for several years, but she reveals her upbringing held her back from becoming a feminist, because she didn’t feel strong enough to stand up for herself.
“I grew up in the 1950s and it took me a long time to apply feminism to my life,” she says. “The men in my life were wonderful, but victims of a (patriarchal) belief system. I felt diminished.
“Eventually I decided I wasn’t going to give up who I was in order to please the man I was with. I became an embodied feminist when I was single and saw Eve Ensler perform The Vagina Monologues.
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.”