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Sean Penn Says Spirit of #MeToo Movement Is to ‘Divide Men and Women’

Sean Penn offered his thoughts on the #MeToo movement, saying the spirit of it is “to divide men and women.”

Penn was on NBC’s “Today” on Monday morning with Natascha McElhone to discuss their new Hulu series “The First.” McElhone said the show’s strong female characters were informed by the #MeToo movement. Penn disagreed.

“I’d like to think that none of it was influenced by what they call the movement of #MeToo,” he said. “I think it’s influenced by the things that are developing in terms of the empowerment of women who’ve been acknowledging each other and being acknowledged by men. This is a movement that was largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious.”

When asked to elaborate, Penn said, “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. The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women.”

“Today” co-host Natalie Morales responded saying, “Women would say it’s uniting women,” to which Penn replied, “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 went on to say, “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. Even when people try to discuss it in a nuanced way, the nuance itself is attacked.”

Morales asked Penn if the #MeToo movement had gotten too big.

“I think it’s too black and white,” he responded. “In most things that are very important, it’s really good to just slow down.”

Despite Penn’s remarks, McElhone said the cast spoke about the movement “a great deal” on set.

“I think what Sean was maybe alluding to is this sort of bubble of actors or people who are in magazines that have gotten a lot of attention from this,” she said. “Of course, it’s terrific that they’ve put a spotlight on it. But now, it’s we need to go to the places where this is happening behind closed doors, and it’s not exposed and those voices aren’t being heard.”

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