At Variety's "Power of Women" event last week, Natalie Portman gave a speech that's since gone softly viral. Speaking in support of Time's Up, Portman offered up simple advice for women who want to help the initiative. She asked women in the room to donate money, organize with other women, diversify their social groups and listen to women of different backgrounds, demand or negotiate for equal pay, and work to diversify one's workplace.
But, in a move that garnered a great deal of attention, Portman urged women to battle everyday sexism with a simple invective: to "gossip well."
"Stop the rhetoric that a woman is crazy or difficult," the actress urged. "If a man says to you that a woman is crazy or difficult, ask him, 'What bad thing did you do to her?'" Cue applause.
"That's a code word," said Portman. "He is trying to discredit her reputation. Make efforts to hire people who have had their reputations smeared in retaliation."
Portman makes a cogent point that can easily apply to any industry. Women who speak out about mistreatment, especially when it comes to sexual harassment or abuse, are often coded as nuts, making them easy to ignore. So gossip well. Think about the words used to describe people and what they really mean.
That goes for men, too. The creators of whisper networks may be getting sued, but that doesn't mean we should stop whispering. Or yelling.
Photo via BFA