Minnie Driver calls out ex-boyfriend Matt Damon for controversial comments on sexual abuse

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Moya Crockett
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Minnie Driver

The actress has challenged her ex-boyfriend over his controversial remarks about sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood. 

We’ve all had moments when we’ve wished our ex-partners would just stop talking. Spare a thought, then, for Minnie Driver, who has spoken out against her former boyfriend Matt Damon after he mused on the subject of sexual misconduct in a controversial interview.

Damon spoke to ABC News last week about the multiple allegations of sexual abuse made against Harvey Weinstein (with whom he worked on the 1997 film Good Will Hunting). The actor insisted he knew nothing about the producer’s abusive treatment of women, but has been heavily criticised for comments he made about sexual abuse more generally.

“I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories … [but] I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behaviour, right?” Damon said.

“There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?” he added. “Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”

People who commit “rape and child molestation or whatever” should go to prison, Damon continued, but “the other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross”.

Matt Damon has been widely criticised for his comments about sexual abuse

Driver, who starred alongside Damon in Good Will Hunting and dated the actor in the late Nineties, was quick to call him out on Twitter.

“[Good] God, SERIOUSLY?” she wrote. “There are so many men I love who do NOT frame the differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault and rape as an excuse, or worse – [as women’s] problem. Such bollocks.”

Responding to another Twitter user who expressed support for Damon’s viewpoint, Driver said: “You don’t get to be hierarchical with abuse. And you don’t get to tell women that because some guy only showed them their penis their pain isn’t as great as a woman who was raped.”

In conversation with the Guardian, Driver said that she felt compelled to speak out after realising how many men did not understand women’s experiences of sexual misconduct. 

“I felt I desperately needed to say something,” she said. “I’ve realised that most men, good men, the men that I love, there is a cut-off in their ability to understand. They simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level.”

Minnie Driver and Matt Damon in 1997 

Driver said she was concerned at the number of men who seem to think they have the right to analyse the severity of abuse suffered by women.

“How about: it’s all f***ing wrong and it’s all bad, and until you start seeing it under one umbrella it’s not your job to compartmentalise or judge what is worse and what is not,” she said.

The British actress added that she wanted men to try and support women by listening, rather than talking.

“Let women do the speaking up right now. The time right now is for men just to listen and not have an opinion about it for once,” she said.

“In the same stereotypical way that we see women being supportive of men in their endeavours, I feel that’s what women need of men in this moment. They need men to lean on and not question.” 

Actress Alyssa Milano has also criticised Matt Damon

Actress Alyssa Milano has also condemned Damon’s comments. Responding to his remark in the ABC News interview that we “live in a culture of outrage and injury”, Milano wrote on Twitter: “We are in a ‘culture of outrage’ because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous.”

“I have been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum of which you speak,” she said. “They all hurt. And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalised, accepted – even welcomed – misogyny.”

Read Milano’s full thread below:

For more on the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, click here.

Images: Rex Features