“I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating."
Sarah Malik

23 May 2019 - 12:07 PM  UPDATED 23 May 2019 - 12:07 PM

Natalie Portman has labelled claims made by singer Moby the pair dated when she was a teen 'disturbing'  fuelling a spirited internet conversation on sexual politics.

In his new book, Moby reportedly describes meeting Portman when she was 20 years old at he was 33. He says the two dated and he "tried to be her boyfriend," before Portman ultimately broke it off.

“I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school,” Portman said in an interview  with Harper's Bazaar magazine

“He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact checking from him or his publisher – it almost feels deliberate. That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check.”

Moby responded to Portman on social media, posting a picture of the pair and saying he was confused as to why she would 'misrepresent' the relationship.

"I can’t figure out why she would actively misrepresent the truth about our (albeit brief) involvement. The story as laid out in my book Then It Fell Apart is accurate, with lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc," he wrote on Instagram.  

"I completely respect Natalie’s possible regret in dating me (to be fair, I would probably regret dating me, too), but it doesn’t alter the actual facts of our brief romantic history."  

Rachel Leishman, writing for online feminist site 'The Mary Sue', says the anecdote is illustrative of male entitlement and the tendency to sexualise interactions with women.

"It’s a constant struggle that women have to face, all because men feel a sense of entitlement to the women they have feelings for," Leishman said. 

Social media users weighed in on the news, saying the interaction also ignored the power disparity inherent in large age gaps, and the different assumptions made by men and women about the same experience. 

"It's gross how Moby thinks he can frame an 18 year old girl (NOT 20) as the one with all the power,"  Philip Ellis wrote. 

Others pointed to the comic absurdity of the 'misunderstanding'.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that 35 percent of white men born between 1965-1984 have also believed themselves to be in a relationship with Natalie Portman," Monica Hesse wrote. 

"I don't know who needs to hear this today, but you are not dating Natalie Portman," another tweeted. 

The allegations against Halle Berry's ex-manager speaks volumes about the sexualisation of women of colour
It's bittersweet to see made public what so many women from minority groups suffer in private - knowledge that success hinges not on our own talents but on white "gatekeepers" who use our discrimination to their advantage.