Natalie Portman stepped out for the just-concluded Academy Awards wearing a cape embroidered with the names of snubbed female directors, and this has earned her both positive headlines and negative criticisms.
One of those who spoke up was Rose McGowan
In a Facebook post published Tuesday, the activist and filmmaker called the cape “the kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery.” She added, “Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do.”
McGowan went on to challenge Portman to do more for female directors than wear a cape with their names on it. “I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work. I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk,” she said. McGowan then suggested that Portman work with more than the two female directors she has collaborated with over the course of her career, and hire more female directors at her production company, Handsomecharlie Films.
“What is it with actresses of your ilk? You ‘A-listers’ could change the world if you’d take a stand instead of being the problem. Yes, you, Natalie. You are the problem. Lip service is the problem. Fake support of other women is the problem,” McGowan continued.
Twitter backlash to Portman’s cape on Sunday also took the actor to task for Handsomecharlie Films only hiring one female director (herself) over the course of eight projects, with three in development. “Really brave of Natalie Portman to elevate the voices of [checks notes] white women in Hollywood through the medium of [squints harder] …a garment that she will wear exactly once made by a brand that doesn’t pay a living wage,” one commentator wrote. “In a nearly 30 year career she has worked with 2 female directors. Be the change you want to see, do the hard work, take the first steps. I applaud you for the dress, but let’s do, not perform,” another added.
“There is no law that says you need to hire women, work with women, or support women. By all means, you do you. But I am saying stop pretending you’re some kind of champion for anything other than yourself,” McGowan concluded. “As for me, I’ll be over here raising my voice and fighting for change without any compensation. That is activism. Until you and your fellow actresses get real, do us all a favor and hang up your embroidered activist cloak, it doesn’t hang right.”
Read McGowan’s full statement here.