Under fire

Matt Damon says 'one thing' not being talked about is men who aren't sexual predators

The actor is facing criticism for his comments.

NY Special Screening of Downsizing Evan Agostini Evan Agostini

MATT DAMON HAS recently been doing a promotional tour for his new movie Downsizing – but he’s been consistently making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, in an interview with ABC News, Damon said there was:

A difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.

Minnie Driver read Damon’s comments and responded to The Guardian that men “simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level”:

I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can’t tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that. No one can. It is so individual and so personal, it’s galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not.

There was widespread support for Driver’s stance – and a condemnation of Damon explaining to women what the spectrum of sexual violence looks like from his position.

The 89th Academy Awards - Vanity Fair Party - Los Angeles SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Yesterday, Damon was asked once again about the sexual harassment and assault stories that have dominated Hollywood in recent months.

He told Business Insider:

We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is there are a whole shitload of guys — the preponderance of men I’ve worked with — who don’t do this kind of thing and whose lives aren’t going to be affected.
If I have to sign a sexual-harassment thing, I don’t care, I’ll sign it. I would have signed it before. I don’t do that, and most of the people I know don’t do that.

These comments have drawn much criticism from commentators, and on social media, who say that Damon is missing the point on the recent scandals in Hollywood.

Similarly, Rose McGowan, who was one of the first women to go public with allegations against Harvey Weinstein, called Damon’s comments “dense”.

Meryl Streep

In a weekend tweet, which has since been deleted, McGowan also criticised Meryl Streep for “working with” Weinstein for years despite his reputation in Hollywood as being a sexual predator.

She wrote:

Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @goldenglobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real chance. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.

McGowan has since apologised for the line about Marchesa - the brand designed by Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman – but didn’t apologise for the criticism aimed at Streep and a group of actresses who plan to wear black to the Golden Globes as a protest against gender inequality.

Last night, in an exclusive statement given to The Huffington Post, Streep responded to McGowan’s accusations at length.

She began:

It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend, but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein’s crimes, not in the 90s when he attacked her, or through subsequent decades when he proceeded to attack others.

Sexual Misconduct Womens Conference Steven Senne / PA Images Steven Senne / PA Images / PA Images

She was frank in her denial of any knowledge of what was happening:

I wasn’t deliberately silent. I didn’t know. I don’t tacitly approve of rape. I didn’t know.  I don’t like young women being assaulted. I didn’t know this was happening.

Harvey Weinstein allegations Dominic Lipinski / PA Images Dominic Lipinski / PA Images / PA Images

Speaking about Weinstein directly, she said:

I don’t know where Harvey lives, nor has he ever been to my home. I have never in my life been invited to his hotel room. I have been to his office once, for a meeting with Wes Craven for Music of the Heart in 1998. HW distributed movies I made with other people.
HW was not a filmmaker; he was often a producer, primarily a marketer of films made by other people- some of them great, some not great. But not every actor, actress, and director who made films that HW distributed knew he abused women, or that he raped Rose in the 90s, other women before and others after, until they told us. We did not know that women’s silence was purchased by him and his enablers.

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Written by David Elkin and posted on

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