Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with American actress, writer and political activist Jane Fonda, in our most recent episode of 'CNBC Meets..' with our host Tania Bryer. The interview was broadcast on CNBC on 13 October 2017.
Tania Bryer: What about the way that the industry (is) treating women from when you first started to now. We thought that it had changed but recently, everything that's coming out with Harvey Weinstein - it seems like it hasn't changed. Are you surprised?
Jane Fonda: No. I'm not surprised. I'm glad it's coming out. Thank God it's coming out. Thank God women are talking because back in the days we were too scared to talk because we thought no one would ever hire us again you know. And the more women are brave enough and, make no mistake, women who come forward and talk about being sexually harassed, abused or raped, it's very very very hard. You don't get anything out of it except fingers being pointed at you and too often people not believe you. So it's it's very brave of these women to do it and it gives courage to other women.
Unfortunately it also can trigger.. I have a friend who was badly abused when she was young and reading about the, listening to the recording of the woman telling Harvey Weinstein, 'No I really don't feel comfortable' completely triggered her own abuse and she's in bad shape right now so there's that you know part of it but I don't think that men realize that when women are taken advantage of sexually which also means that the man is not, doesn't care who you are or what you are as a human being or how you feel it's all about you as a sexual object. So it's like you're being completely diminished and become invisible except what you can offer sexually. And it's such an abuse of the soul of a human being and it takes a long time to recover from it. And that's why also it takes a long time for women to come forward. It's, just very difficult and you know one always hopes that now it's being talked about more that it will happen less.
Tania Bryer: How would you like it to change things in Hollywood? What should happen to Harvey Weinstein and people like him?
Jane Fonda: Well I think they should all go to jail, and you know let's put Bill Cosby in there… but the question is not just Hollywood, you know , make no…..this is epidemic. This goes on all over the world in all kinds of levels, and you know very, very powerful men and not very powerful men, but I think that they have to be put in jail. And I think that the women who come forward have to be applauded, respected, listened to and gotten help for, because it really has psychological consequences.
Tania Bryer: Had you ever worked with Harvey yourself?
Jane Fonda: No. No. And the few times that I have run into Harvey he was you know he was always… Well first of all by the time I got to meet him I was old. If you'll notice this kind of thing happens to young women who are vulnerable and really can't well … it's hard for them to defend themselves. It's hard for them to have agency over the situation. And I was old when I met him so, but the friends that I know who had this happen, by him and by others, are usually young and vulnerable.
Tania Bryer: When the presidential campaign was happening you spoke out against Trump and you actually did say that that was not the America that you wanted and that you felt ashamed. How do you feel now about President Trump?
Jane Fonda: Before the election when I said those things I never in my wildest dreams imagined that he would actually become president. When he did the first thing that happened, and I think it happened to just about everybody across the board, I felt something in my body that I had never felt before. It was.. first of all I felt like I was living in a dream. This can't be real. And the same time I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. It was a feeling – I'm almost 80, and in all those years I had never felt this feeling. And as I've thought back on it I think it was that my body was actually countenancing the fact that we had entered an existential crisis. This is unlike anything that has ever happened before. I mean inept and bad people have been elected to office in the United States before and we could say to each other well this is really bad, but you know we can work hard during these four years and we'll come out the other side and we'll change things. That's not the way it is anymore because of climate. The climate crisis that we're facing means there is no window, we have no wiggle room to make mistakes. He is doing things that if they go forward and please God for the entire world it just cannot happen., if they go forward what we are facing is going to be a crisis.
I mean it just sounds you know it sounds like rhetoric but what you've seen happen in the United States, the floods, the fires, the earthquakes, the hurricanes, the disasters. This is just the tip of the iceberg. And what does it mean? It means more immigrants, it means famine, it means death, destruction disease it means that it's going to become harder and harder for human beings to survive on this planet. Already there are parts of the planet that are so hard that they can't support human life. So there is no time to waste. And so I had to decide like lots of people where do I put my time, my money and my energy, my resources. And I said we have to go back to how we used to organize and long before I was born. Everything good that ever happened in our country happened through struggle. It never ever ever happens by us just sitting back and letting the politicians do their thing no matter how good they are. In fact the better they are the more we have to push so that they can throw up their hands and say see it's not me it's my constituents that are forcing me to do this. We have to go back and what did we used to do? We used to go door to door and talk to people, not people we knew, not people we felt comfortable with, not people necessarily who look or behave or live like we do but people - and talk mostly listen. What do you … what is wrong from your point of view? what do you need to feel better about your life what are you scared of and really really understand and then figure out a way to create policy changes that can you know make their lives better.
There are so many people in the middle of our country in the United States that are in such deep pain and so scared and don't know who they are anymore because everything that gave them an identity. Their jobs, union jobs in factories where they could bring home a salary to support a family and pay for a home. Those are gone. And there's no institutions anymore that they can look to for identity. That's why the NRA the National Rifle Association is so successful they give people an identity. We have to change that. We have to create new institutions for these people that can make them feel like human beings that are seen and respected again. So it's called canvasing, it's called grassroots organizing. It's called going door to door and knocking and I'm supporting these kind of efforts in California, in the Central Valley, in Michigan and in other parts of the United States. That's what I think needs to happen we have to step outside our bubble - not just talk about it but really do it so that we understand the reality of other people's lives. You know there are so many people that voted for Trump that voted for Obama for two elections. They're beginning to regret it in large numbers. So something, somebody, people , organizations have to step into that breach and fill in that vacuum that exists. I think it can be done but we have to be extremely vigilant now and just - I work now to support my activism. That's what I'm doing.
Tania Bryer: Your activism of course you're very famous for that, during the Vietnam War when you were campaigning against it. What advice would you give to activists now if they are worried…there is a war of words with North Korea now as well…
Jane Fonda: It's the politicians, it's Trump it's people who understand that diplomacy, negotiations, diplomacy. It has worked up until now we have not had a new nuclear war. You don't taunt and go (gestures) at somebody like the president of North Korea. You work diplomacy and Trump is the absolute worst, worst person we could have in office right now it's just too volatile and dangerous you know and I'm just I'm hoping that the investigation will get him frankly. You know they have so much material and I just hope, I hope he doesn't last four years. I mean, that's a terrible thing to say except that he's going to bring us down.
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