Sean Penn: 'Me Too' movement 'divides men and women'

Sean Penn: 'Me Too' movement 'divides men and women'
© NBC's Today Show

Actor Sean Penn pushed back against the "Me Too" movement in an interview on Monday, arguing that it divided men and women.

"The spirit of much of what has been the Me Too movement is to divide men and women," Penn said during an interview that aired Monday on NBC's "Today."

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"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," Penn said.

"I think it's too black and white. In most things that are very important it's really good to just slow down."

He also went after the movement's origins, questioning whether the issue was systemic.

"This is a movement that was, you know, largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious," Penn told NBC.

"We don't know what's fact in many of the cases," he explained. "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."

Hollywood has been hit hard with accusations of sexual harassment in the work place. 

The Me Too era began with accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein but has since taken down other powerful men in politics, business and entertainment. 

Earlier this month, CBS Chairman Les Moonves resigned under a cloud of allegations.

Natascha McElhone, who is starring in a new Hulu show with Penn and was interviewed with him on "Today," said the two talked about the Me Too movement "a great deal" on set.

"I think what Sean was maybe alluding to was this ... bubble of actors or people who are in magazines that have gotten a lot of attention from this," McElhone told NBC.

"And of course it's terrific that they've put a spotlight on it," she added. "Now we need to go into the places where this is happening behind closed doors and it's not exposed and those voices aren't being heard." 

A Pew research poll from April found that Americans are conflicted about the movement. Eighty-five percent considered men getting away with sexual harassment or assault is a problem, but 76 percent said falsely accusing men of sexual harassment or assault was also an issue.

A Vox–Morning Consult poll from the same month found that 63 percent of women were very or somewhat concerned about false accusations and 56 percent were concerned about a lack of nuance in punishment for misdeeds.