Charlize Theron criticised for 'trivialising' sexual violence by likening press intrusion into her private life to rape

"I don't (Google myself) - that's my saving grace," she told Sky News. "When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start feeling raped"

Jenn Selby
Friday 30 May 2014 13:20 BST

Charlize Theron has come under fire for "trivialising" sexual violence by likening the press intrusion into her personal life to being raped.

In a somewhat exaggerated comparison between dealing with the intense media attention that comes with being a famous person who stars in lots of films and, say, sexual assault, the South African told Sky News: "I don't (Google myself) - that's my saving grace.

"When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start feeling raped."

The interviewer then questioned whether Theron had meant to express her sentiment quite so strongly, to which she replied: "Well, when it comes to your son and your private life. Maybe it's just me.

"Some people might relish in all that stuff but there are certain things in my life that I think of as very sacred and I am very protective over them.

"I don't always win that war but as long as I don't have to see that stuff or read that stuff or hear that stuff then I can live with my head in a clear space, which is probably a lot healthier than living in that dark room."

Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for sexual violence charity Rape Crisis in England and Wales, was, however, less than impressed by the actress's sentiment.

"Obviously we’re always very disappointed when an influential public figure, who we consider a role model, uses thoughtless language around rape," she told The Independent.

"She is comparing something which I have no doubt is a distressing experience, but it is never helpful or appropriate to use sexual violence as a metaphor for experiences in that way. It detracts from what is a very real, and very serious experience for survivors and it trivialises sexual violence.

"So often ignorance is an explanation as to why someone might trivialise rape in this way, while it is never excuse.

"But for someone who actually has some understanding of the lifelong impact sexual violence has on its survivors, it is extremely disappointing."

Theron has herself long been a spokeswoman for ending sexual violence against women, particularly in her role as UN Messenger of Peace.

However she is not the first person to draw such parallels between press intrusion and sexual assault.

Kristen Stewart issued an apology in 2010 after she claimed that seeing photographs of herself in gossip magazines was like "looking at someone being raped".

Theron is also not the first person to liken such attention to war.

Gwyneth Paltrow hit the headlines just yesterday (29 May) for comparing being trolled on the internet to surviving a war.

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the Code technology conference in California on Tuesday, she said: "You come across [comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it."

"My hope is, as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience," she concluded.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in