Matthew McConaughey explained that despite his negative childhood experiences surrounding sex, he refused to let being blackmailed and molested define the rest of his life.
The actor spoke to Amanda de Cadenet on her podcast The Conversation as her first guest in a new series titled “About the Men.” During the conversation, McConaughey opened up about experiencing trauma and some of the lessons his father taught him surrounding consent and physical intimacy.
When asked how he knew what was “right” from such a young age, he replied, “Well, I had been taught, been guided, by my parents about respect for a woman, respect for the relationship, respect for sexual intimacy, respect for space.”
He continued, “My dad had always had this thing when he taught us the birds and the bees, he said, ‘You know, you’re getting that age you kiss?’ and I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ And he goes, ‘Well, it’s gonna go further than that one day. It’s probably gonna go to where you’re gonna get intimate and there’s gonna be the breast, and then there’s gonna be below the belt.’—I’m paraphrasing—’It’s gonna happen to you as well.’
And so he goes, ‘Son, as a male in the situation,’ speaking to me about a heterosexual relationship, ‘If you ever feel the girl, the female, hesitate…stop.’ He even said this, he goes, ‘You may even feel them hesitate, and then after you stop, they may go, “oh, no, no, come on.” Don’t. Wait till next time.’ And he was right, I got in certain senses where it was like, ‘No, no, no. OK, I’m out.’ Trust you’ll have another day, if it’s to be.”
The Dazed & Confused star also said that even after his experience being blackmailed and sexually abused he was still able to go on to have a number of positive romantic relationships with girls.
Because after those traumatic experiences, he explained, “I was very clear, again, that was not right, that was not cool, that was not the way it is. After that, I got to have some healthy sexual relations and have girls that I liked and liked me, and we slowly got intimate and it was beautiful and clumsy, and all those things, but it wasn’t ugly like that was.”
McConaughey originally revealed in his 2020 memoir Greenlights that he was blackmailed into having sex for the first time at age 15 and then “drugged and molested” when he was 18 years old by another man who knocked him unconscious in the back of a van.
But he vowed that he wouldn’t let those negative experiences turn him into a victim. He told de Cadenet, “I’m not gonna be afraid of relationships because my first experience was blackmail. Unh-uh. That’s an aberration. No, that’s not the way it is. And if I go on—and I’m not gonna let it beat me. That’s the other thing, I’m competitive. I’m going, ‘I’m not gonna let that beat my sense of trust in people and say, ‘No, I can have a healthy relationship.’ Non-negotiable…I still get, even telling you this story, I get…but am I gonna carry that? I chose, non-negotiably, I’m not going to carry that, bring that baggage into the life I’m going to lead, and how I treat people and how I trust people, and how I look at circumstances and the risk I may take.”