Every time you think Jane Fonda is finally past making headlines, she surprises you: On Thursday, the headlines about her around the internet read: "I've been raped."
This happened in her youth (she just turned 79) and apparently she's never talked about it publicly before. The Oscar-winning daughter of Oscar-winning Henry Fonda also revealed she was sexually abused as a child, and that she was once fired from a job for refusing to sleep with her boss.
All this came out in an interview Fonda did with Oscar-winning Brie Larson in Net-a-Porter's The Edit, in which the two discussed feminism, the women's movement, physical fitness, sexual violence, celebrity political activism, her regrets (she wishes she had been a better parent), her recently rejuvenated career (Netflix' Grace and Frankie), and "patriarchy."
Fonda said it took years before she woke up to the idea of empowering women. She grew up in the 1950s with "the disease to please." She's over that now.
"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 told Larson.
Fonda is only the latest celebrity woman to step forward to talk about sexual violence in her past: Westwood star Evan Rachel Wood, in November, told Rolling Stone and elaborated in an open letter on Twitter, that she had been raped twice in her past.
Fonda and Larson, 27, also discussed celebrities who speak out on politics and issues, which has always been the case but seems more widespread now thanks to social media and intense Hollywood opposition to President Trump.
Once upon a time, Fonda was America's most notorious celebrity political activist as an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. In the beginning, it was anathema to speak out against the war; eventually, many Americans came to see it as a bloody and costly mistake. She has apologized for some of her "mistakes" back then, but some veterans and right-wing Republicans will never forgive "Hanoi Jane" for being photographed sitting on a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun in 1972.
Fonda still believes everyone has the right to speak out, no matter what they do. Larson said she's been getting backlash on social media for her own activism, and it's easy to start believing she's just a clueless "elitist."
"It means you’re having an effect," Fonda says. "People want to silence you. If it didn’t matter, no one would bother saying, 'Shut up.' ”