Matt Damon draws backlash for comments on sexual harassment and assault

Posted: Updated:
ABC News ABC News
(ABC) -

Matt Damon has drawn heated criticism for his comments on ABC's "Popcorn" in which he said all men accused of sexual harassment and assault shouldn't be lumped together because "there's a spectrum of behavior."

"There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?" he told host Peter Travers Thursday while speaking about the national reckoning on sexual misconduct taking place in Hollywood, politics, the media and more. "Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?"

Alyssa Milano and Damon's "Good Will Hunting" co-star Minnie Driver strongly disagreed and chastised Damon for categorizing various forms of sexual misconduct.

"I have been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum of which you speak. They all hurt," Milano, who helped spark the #MeToo movement, wrote on Twitter Friday. "And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted -- even welcomed -- misogyny."

Milano addressed Damon in a series of tweets, comparing sexual misconduct to cancer. "There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it’s still cancer," she wrote.

We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture. We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) December 16, 2017

Sexual harassment, misconduct, assault and violence is a systemic disease. The tumor is being cut out right now with no anesthesia. Please send flowers. #MeToo

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) December 16, 2017

Driver also responded on Twitter.

God God, SERIOUSLY? https://t.co/NDZFrLDXil

— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) December 15, 2017

She later elaborated on her reaction in an interview with The Guardian published on Sunday.

I don’t just speak for myself in this article, I speak for too many friends and co-workers as well. - Minnie Driver: men like Matt Damon 'simply cannot understand what abuse is like' https://t.co/Z9M120C6XZ

— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) December 17, 2017

"I felt I desperately needed to say something. I’ve realized 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," the British-born actress told the newspaper.

"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."

In his interview, Damon said Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken, who recently stepped down following sexual harassment allegations, should not be compared to Harvey Weinstein, who is accused of multiple allegations of sexual harassment, assault and even rape. He also commended Louis CK, who was accused by multiple women of masturbating in front of them, for taking "personal responsibility" for his actions.

Franken apologized for his actions and acknowledged some wrongdoing. Weinstein has acknowledged inappropriate behavior, but has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex or retaliation against women for refusing his advances. Louis CK acknowledged that "these stories are true" and expressed regret for the hurt caused.

"We live in this culture of outrage and injury, and, you know, that we’re going to have to correct enough to kind of go, 'Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect,'" Damon said.

Milano seized on Damon's comment, defending the rage that women and other victims feel.

We are in a “culture of outrage” because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous. And it is righteous.

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) December 16, 2017

Driver said what is needed now is for "good intelligent men to say this is all bad across the board, condemn it all and start again."

Beyond that, she urged them to be quiet and listen.

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

  • Most Popular Stories

    • MGN Online

      Half of Kansas at high risk for West Nile virus

      The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued a high-risk warning for West Nile virus infections for half of the state.

    • Restaurant report card

      The concert Crewstview Bevco at Crewstview country club had several safety violations. Inspectors found strawberries covered in white and green mold. Tomatoes, pasta, ham and other food was being stored at unsafe temperatures and inspectors found old food debris was built up on the can opener and slicer.  This restaurant is found to be out of compliance.  Neighbors bar and grill on west 21st street needs to make some changes. Inspectors saw an employee touching raw eggs th...

    • (Andrew Jansen/The Springfield News-Leader via AP). Rescue crews work at the scene of a deadly boat accident at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., Thursday, July 19, 2018. A sheriff in Missouri said a tourist boat has apparently capsized on the lake, lea...

      The Latest: Boat victims mourned

      A Missouri sheriff says at least 11 people have now been confirmed dead after a boat carrying tourists on a lake in a popular vacation city capsized and sank.
    • Kansas woman recounts hours leading to Missouri duck boat accident

      As the community met to grieve for the 17 tourists killed riding on a duck boat across Table Rock Lake, Lyons, KS native, Becky Rombeck is counting her blessings. Her boat left just 30 minutes earlier than the ill-fated boat that capsized in a storm. “It’s just so scary. You, know you just did it and then 17 people are killed,” Rombeck said. Rombeck said the weather outside appeared to be perfect. “The weather was beautiful. You could see the clouds coming i...

    • Day care owner gets probation for trying to kill toddler

      Nataliia Karia, 43, received her punishment in Hennepin County court after pleading guilty to attempted murder and third-degree assault earlier.

    • KTVX

      Wichita woman among 3 killed in Utah motorcycle crash

      One of the victims was identified as 53-year-old Judith Murray of Wichita. She was riding a motorcycle driven by 50-year-old Jason Murray.

    • Crews from multiple Missouri agencies are on the scene of a mass casualty incident with a "tourist-type boat involved," the Stone County Fire Department said in a statement.  Full Credit: Southern Stone County Fire Protection District

      As investigation into deadly duck boat incident begins, survivor describes almost drowning

      A day after a duck boat capsized and sank during a severe storm at a southern Missouri lake, killing at least 11 people, divers are resuming a search for six people who remain missing.
    • Mom warns of Fortnite fraud after teen son's account was taken over

      A mother wants to help protect other families from scammers after her teenage son was allegedly duped while playing the competitive fighting game, Fortnite. Fortnite is a wildly popular multiplayer survival game where players join teams and battle up to 100 others to be the last person standing. Since its release last year, the game now has more than 45 million players, and according to research from SuperData, a provider of data and market intelligence on digital games, collected $3...
    • DA: No charges in death of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez

      The last page of a report provided to the media says, "In light of the death of the sole suspect in the death of Lucas Hernandez, no charges will be filed concerning his death in February of 2018."

    • Table Rock Lake duck boat accident leaves 17 dead, including children

      The Ride the Ducks boat sank Thursday night in Table Rock Lake near Branson. Seventeen people died.