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The Oscar-winning actor criticized the movement of women going public with their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault in an effort to expose and eliminate such behavior, which gained traction last fall, especially in Hollywood, beginning with the Harvey Weinstein sexual-misconduct scandal.
“This is a movement that was largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious,” Penn told Today‘s Natalie Morales.
When asked what he meant, Penn responded, “Well, we don’t know what’s a fact in many of the cases. Salacious is as soon as you call something a movement that is really a series of many individual accusers, victims, accusations, some of which are unfounded.”
Penn and actress Natascha McElhone talked to Today to promote their new Hulu show The First, which is about a mission to Mars.
“The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women,” Penn said.
Morales, who disagreed, interjected, “Women would say it’s uniting women.”
Penn responded, “I’m gonna say that women that I talk to, not in front of a camera, that I listen to, of all walks of life, that there’s a common sense that is not represented at all in the discussion when it comes to the media discussion of it, the discussion where if Sean Penn says this, so and so’s going to attack him for saying this, because of that.”
He added, “I don’t want it to be a trend, and I’m very suspicious of a movement that gets glommed onto in great stridency and rage and without nuance. And even when people try to discuss it in a nuanced way, the nuance itself is attacked. I think it’s too black and white. In most things that are very important, it’s really good to just slow down.”
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