Matthew McConaughey in Serenity

After 30 years in the business of Hollywood, Oscar-winning actor and “alright, alright, alright” icon Matthew McConaughey decided to pen his own memoir called Greenlights. The new book has the actor getting candid about his life experiences and path to fame. Some of the most striking details he lays out at the beginning of Greenlights are two counts of sexual assault he allegedly faced as a young man.

In the opening of the book, McConaughey lists the “few scars” he’s earned over the years. It’s there where he states that at the age of 15 he was blackmailed into having sex for the first time and molested by a man while knocked out unconscious in the back of a van when he was 18. These are not topics the actor returns to in depth later in the book. Here’s why in his words:

Ultimately, there’s nothing that I feel is constructive about the details. I feel like those details, unless I had a really good constructive way that I saw it that could be relatable to other people, I felt like those details could have just been grabbed and reported for voyeurism. They could’ve been the thing that every single show was going to go ‘Read about the details of when Matthew was molested,’ or ‘Read about when he got blackmailed,’ and that’s the wrong headline. Because I also write in the book I’ve never felt like a victim...yes was I victimized in those two situations? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve carried on through my life the feeling of ‘oh I was victimized,’ or ‘oh I was a victim,’ or that those two unfortunate events have turned me into the man that I am or are even an excuse.

When speaking on The Tamron Hall Show, the actor explained why he chose not to go further to describe his nonconsensual sexual encounters in Greenlights. Above all else, he thought it would be exploited in the press as a dramatized event for fans to go out and look up. The actor said he never felt like a victim following the incidents and did not want to be treated as such if he had handled the subject in another way in his new book. McConaughey expanded on the sexual assaults with these words:

Those two events happened to me at 15 and 18. If they would’ve happened to me younger...maybe I would’ve been more confused. But when they happened to me, it was very clear to me, that they were wrong, that they were not ideal, that they were not how it’s supposed to be. So I think having that clarity means that it’s probably why it didn’t stick with me and confuse me later on or left me having a non-realistic view of the way the world is supposed to work.

However, Matthew McConaughey choosing to speak out about dealing with a common crime himself is valuable and constructive. It’s a conversation that women (one in five women in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives according to the NSVRC) have started to feel more comfortable speaking about in recent years, such as with the MeToo Movement around Hollywood. It’s also an issue that happens among men much more than we realize, and the Dallas Buyers Club actor could empower more people to talk about the issue just by simply stating it as he did in his book.

Drawing the line between talking about sexual assault and rape in media has been a contenious one over the years. There’s certainly a difference between exposing one to the dangers and trauma that comes with these acts and exploiting them for shock entertainment or perhaps triggering those who have experienced similar circumstances. Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why was a prime example of this particular issue.

Matthew McConaughey's Greenlights and his promotion of the book with press have allowed the actor to open up about other important events in his life such as his brush with Marvel when it came to potentially playing the Hulk, his dealing with the death of his father and why he decided to move away from romantic comedies. Greenlights is available to read or listen to now.

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