Jane Fonda: ‘That is my failing… when I’m with a man, I give up myself’

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Attend A Commonwealth Day Youth Event At Canada House

I have a complaint. How unusual, I know! My complaint is when regular old fashion magazines want to pretend to look inclusive, so instead of, you know, actually putting the effort into being inclusive about race, LGBTQ+ issues, size and age, they just toss together a “special edition” of their magazine and then continue to put the same slender young white women in all of their other editions. So it is with British Vogue. The May issue of British Vogue features Kate Moss’s millionth appearance, and they didn’t even get a new interview with her or anything. The Moss cover is the main cover. But British Vogue also did a “special edition” called The Non-Age Issue, which has Jane Fonda on the cover. Why did she need a special cover? Why couldn’t British Vogue forgo the traditional biannual Kate Moss cover and simply put Fonda on the main cover? Lord knows. And what kills me is that Jane Fonda actually had some interesting things to say! Some highlights:

Identifying with men: “My mother killed herself, so I saw women as kind of being on the losing side. I was so conditioned to identify with men in every possible way. When I was married to Roger Vadim, one day one of his friends said, ‘God, Jane, you’re just like us’ – and I took it as a compliment!”

Living life as a double image: “For the bulk of my life, I would say up until my seventies, I spent my life like a double image, like a double exposure. As an adolescent, in order to fit in, I made sure no one – especially boys or men – could see who I really was; that I could get really angry, that I could not be pretty, that I could be tough. I went through life not whole. And when I left Ted [Fonda's second husband], I could feel myself moving back into myself. That is the main thing about the third act as I’m living it. I am no longer a double image.”

She understands how she is in relationships: “I had several serious relationships after [Ted], but I can’t… That is my failing. I realise I can never overcome it. That when I’m with a man, I give up myself.”

Osteoporosis: “The fact that I hurt a lot – my body hurts – is a surprise to me, and it’s not because of all that working out. It’s genetic. My father [Henry] had it, my brother [Peter] had it. Your cartilage disappears and then it’s bone on bone, and then ‘ow’. But we live in a time where you can just get a new one.”

On loving having her knee replaced: “I was just starting a new relationship and I had to be able to kneel.”

[From British Vogue]

Sometimes when I read Jane’s interviews, I feel like she’s actually quite a superficial person masquerading as a serious person, but this one was different. It’s like at long last, she’s finally developed some real-life lessons and self-awareness. This one really struck me: “My mother killed herself, so I saw women as kind of being on the losing side. I was so conditioned to identify with men in every possible way.” Yes. That happens to so many girls and women. We live in the patriarchy, we are warped by the patriarchy and we grow to identify with patriarchal systems. This was self-aware too: “That when I’m with a man, I give up myself.” That’s the story of her life – she tailors herself and her interests to whichever man she’s with at the moment.

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Attend A Commonwealth Day Youth Event At Canada House

Covers courtesy of British Vogue.

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60 Responses to “Jane Fonda: ‘That is my failing… when I’m with a man, I give up myself’”

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  1. Jerusha says:

    I believe Ted was actually Jane’s third husband, not second-Roger, Tom, Ted. And that’s why I always looked askance at her until recently. With Vadim she became the Bardot lite sex kitten. With Hayden, the political firebrand. With Ted the happy housewife. She finally broke free to be herself and I, at least, find her much more interesting that way.

    • LahdidahBaby says:

      Yes to your general point. But I knew her a bit when she was with Tom (who was a compulsive flirt), and she wasn’t just mirroring his political fervor, she genuinely had her own. (I was part of their Campaign for Economic Democracy.) And she also worked quietly behind the scenes with a group of us who were feminist activists. She actually felt truer then than she did (to me, anyway) during the years before Tom and after Tom, until now. She’s herself again.

      • Jerusha says:

        I always believed political Jane more than sex kitten Jane or housewife Jane. I thought that’s what brought her and Tom together. And I recall how she gave their son Troy her MIL’s maiden name as a last name. I didn’t know her, but I was around during those times and every time she mirrored a new man I thought, “Damn, why are you doing that? Be yourself-that’s enough.”

      • LahdidahBaby says:

        Yep, Jerusha, I so agree about her political self being truer than the sex kitten or the housewife.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    Jane is always interesting.

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      I agree. She is talking about very important things and we should be listening.
      So many women then and now were and are only extensions of what a man desires- what a man allows a woman to be.
      It must be hugely difficult to speak or be self aware of your place in this and then discuss it publicly.
      If she seems brittle it is because the role she is playing incwhayever relationship is a mile from her true self and there is enormous stress in that state.

  3. Miss Gloss says:

    She’s SO annoying!! I can’t even watch her on screen. She once said in an interview that Angelina Jolie would be the actress to play her in a movie. HA! Yeah, right. She can’t act. She’s just her annoying self in every movie. Same ugly wig and popped collared shirts. Can’t stand her. She lacks so much humility.

    • Lesanne says:

      Thank you for saying this. Very few people bother me, but I just want to pop her in the mouth.

    • Uppenyrcraut says:

      I actually really enjoy her in Grace and Frankie, her uptight persona works so well in the show. But I get you, I feel exactly the same way about Diane Keaton, she ruins every movie she is in and only ever plays a version of herself. She is particularly painful in a romantic storyline.

      • Surly Gale says:

        I think Diane Keaton played a version of the ‘real’ Jane Fonda in the movie First Wives Club…subverted her own intelligence, etc to be with her husband. FWC is the only movie I’ve ever not been bored by Diane Keaton, so I get what you are saying about her. I kind of like her in the G&F role cause the persona does work so well in the show. And because Frankie (Lily) makes SO much fun of her, it’s quite hilarious

      • Jerusha says:

        My favorite and most remembered DK performances are the ones 180 degrees removed from “quirky Diane Keaton.” Such as The Godfather, Shoot the Moon, Mrs. Soffel, Crimes of the Heart, among others. She’s very good in those films.

      • Diana says:

        Diane Keaten’s best movie hands down was Looking for Mr Goodbar. She was nominated for an Oscar, but I think she won the year (I think?) for Annie Hall. She should have won for Looking for Mr Goodbar. I still love that movie; but there is nowhere to stream it.

    • Anne Call says:

      Watch some of her movies from the 1970’s. She was actually very good in them and could morph from being a beautiful socialite to call girl to activist and girl next door. I loved Klute, the China Syndrome and Julia. She’s evolved into the “Jane Fonda” character more in her later years and I do feel like she’s playing herself on Frankie and Grace.

      I grew up in Hollywood long ago and I remember seeing her at a dance studio where I was taking ballet in high school. She was stunning.

      • Jaded says:

        Yes – and “Going Home” with Bruce Dern – amazing movie. She went from meek, suppressed housewife to a love story with a paralyzed veteran. The woman can act, and personal dislikes aside, she gives it her all. Even “Cat Ballou” is a great movie and shows her comedy chops well.

  4. anniefannie says:

    I saw both Jane and Ted in a Destin Fla restaurant. I first spotted them in the parking lot where she was trying to shield Ted from any attention and she continued to run interference w/ the hostess, waiter and so on…
    It looked objectively exhausting and I could feel a lot of empathy because I’ve been in relationships w/volatile people like him…

    • Snowflake says:

      What the? I live close to Destin, on the poor side of the Midbay Bridge. Off hwy 20, between niceville and Freeport. Small world. Do you live in Destin or were you visiting?

      • anniefannie says:

        Sorry Snowflake I just saw this, no I don’t live in Destin but have visited there spring and fall for almost 20 years! Lots of changes, much more touristy than when we 1st visited but still gorgeous beaches…

    • SamC says:

      I had the reverse experience. Saw them several times when I lived in Atlanta and he was always protective of her. And he frequently drove her to the airport himself (no driver, would walk her to the gate, this was pre 9/11).

  5. Asta says:

    I know she keeps saying this, but after I read her auto biography I feel much more that whenever SHE changed (and she changed drastically) each of her husbands couldn’t handle it and she then found a new man who fitted better, but who ultimately wanted her to stay the same as she was at the beginning. I wish she would give herself more credit for continously having had the courage to evolve, even when it meant loosing her relationships over it.

    • Harryg says:

      I read it too and it was an interesting book. She was so obsessed with her dad though, never getting enough attention from him. I felt like, let it go, you’re an adult now, your father was not perfect, so what.
      Then again, it has always bothered me a bit that she looks so much like her father! When I look at her I only see Henry Fonda.

      • Anna says:

        Adults still feel the affects of childhood trauma. Remember that her mother killed herself which is as traumatic as it comes. You may be fortunate enough not to have experienced trauma as a child, but don’t judge her too harshly for not being “over it” yet. It takes a lot of therapy, and she comes from a generation that isn’t as widely accepting of therapy as more recent ones.

      • Puravidacostarica says:

        Well said and very compassionately said, Anna.

      • Harryg says:

        What I meant was at some point you should be able to see your parents are just human beings, and we all have flaws, and sometimes they don’t love us like we think they should. And yes, therapy is probably good so you can see all relationships from different angles and be at least partially freed from bad memories.

    • Isabelle says:

      Most men want their women to stay the same as the day they met them. They don’t do well with all kind of changes and their women changing is one of them. It is why it is very important when dating to be yourself and not fake (lets face it ladies morph into his idea) with him because he will believe 100% you are the fake person you are portraying and when your real self shows, he will lose interest in you or emotional reject in the relationship if he stays.

      • Who is Justice Beaver? says:

        1000% this! Testify!

      • Clay says:

        opposite is also true, or better, the parallel. I mean, first of all we all, men AND women project an ideal image of ourselves at the beginning of relationships, not for nothing it’s called “seduction”, at the early stages we all try to be the best we think can be attractive to the opposite sex. Is not being fake, it’s just nature. Second: we all change, evolve, mature, whatever you want to call it. Men AND women. So I don’t see it as a “gender” thing, I don’t see it as men vs. women, or men expectations vs reality. That’s actually what’s wrong with relationships and it became a huge problem and at the base of so many divorces and separations ever since women have achieved financial independence: that women ARE NOT expected anymore to act, be, do and exist only in relation to men or for their expectations. Is a two way street now and they’re not used to it, and they don’t know what to do, they haven’t been programmed to it yet. That’s why IMO is SO important the way people raises MEN mostly. Because young women know their value now, it’s MEN who are having trouble adapting. They don’t have the financial power over women anymore. Or at least we’re getting there( with the financial independence)

      • GirlMonday says:

        DSU Rose Teller: Want to know the real tragedy about marriage?

        DCI John Luther: No, thanks.

        DSU Rose Teller: Women always think men will change, but they don’t. Men think women won’t change, but they do.

  6. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of hers but I can identify with that aspect of her life. It took a long time and lots of therapy to break that cycle and become comfortable in my own skin with men.

    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      Yes, same. But, I’m not sure I’ve broken it completely. I am more confident in myself and feel safe that I can deal well with many situations. She’s been a long-time supporter of Native issues and she’s put herself into dangerous situations to do that, so I love her for that. She shares how that path has been for her and I think that’s generous. It’s such a journey to get healing and I wish her, and anyone going through it, well – including you.

  7. Boxy Lady says:

    That last quote made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

  8. FHMom says:

    I enjoyed the documentary on her that came out last year. She does seem superficial, and she always put the men in her life before herself. She has a bad picker.

    • Dhavynia says:

      I too enjoyed the documentary and it does seem like she changes herself for each of her husbands. It’s like watching Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts became the person her fiances wanted them to be but later freaked out. Jane ended up marrying them

    • Isabelle says:

      Don’t think she is superficial as she has gone through life and has never known herself. Which can come off as shallow and vapid.

  9. Coco says:

    You Must Remember This podcast did a series on her and it was quite interesting.

    • Jerusha says:

      I tried to listen to the Jean Seberg episodes, but couldn’t make it to the end of the first segment because I hated the podcaster’s voice so much. There seemed to be a perpetual sneer in her tone, as if she were looking down on her subject. Are all the episodes that way?

      • BeanieBean says:

        I guess it’s perception, because I don’t hear what you’re hearing. I thought the Jean & Jane episodes were heartbreaking.

      • Sassy says:

        That’s how the podcaster talks in all the episodes. I always thought it sounded like she was rolling the words in her mouth.

      • Jerusha says:

        Thanks, I’ll give it another shot.

  10. Who ARE these people? says:

    It sounds as if she is describing osteoarthritis not osteoporosis (though the latter can be painful too).

  11. serena says:

    I love her interviews, she’s so interesting and always has a lot to say, she should have been on the cover for the normal issue.

  12. Enough S Enough says:

    Strongly recommend the HBO documentary of her life. A fascinating story.

    Ted was her 3rd husband, BTW – after Vadim and Hayden.

    Agree that Vogue should’ve made her the cover of a “regular” issue. But I ended a 20+ year subscription to (US) Vogue the day they put a Kardashian on the cover.

    That was the day it morphed from Vogue to Vague.

    • Hoot says:

      @Enough – Regarding your first sentence: Yes, it truly gives one a greater depth of understanding of JF. Thanks for recommending.

  13. BANANIE says:

    It sounds like she was consciously adapting to fit the men she was with at first. But I (think I) know a fair amount of women who do that very thing subconsciously. At least she’s aware of it.

    • Miss M says:

      Yeah. I know women who do that and are not even conscious… I have a co-worker that treat male co-workers a lot better and with kore respect than the female counterparts. Even her voice changes when talking to them.

  14. Um says:

    The Kate Moss cover is terrible.

  15. anony7 says:

    It looks to me the Jane cover is called “The Non-Issue”…not, as Kaiser wrote, the “Non-Age Issue.”
    Either way, both epithets strike me as dismissive.

  16. CatWomen says:

    I saw Jane in NYC almost twenty years ago maybe 93 she is a beautiful women, exceptionally so. It’s very difficult to be that physically perfect and then lose it as you age, without doubt she is aging gracefully. She is an icon.

    • KLO says:

      @CatWomen I think it`s a bit easier when you still remain the prettiest in your age bracket all through older years. Takes the sting off a bit :D :P

  17. Carol says:

    I don’t get what’s wrong with identifying with a man. Sometimes I identify with men more than women – so what? I’m not losing my femininity when I feel that way and I never change myself in order to be with a man. I have the attitude that you take me as is. I think the idea that women are one way and men are another is very old school. but Jane is still old school in some ways I guess.

    • Jaded says:

      I think what she meant to get across, and does so later in the interview, is that she gives up her own personality when she’s with a man. She likes what they like, becomes what they want, instead of simply being herself. I’ve been guilty of that in my younger days, I think many of us can relate to becoming what we think men want us to be instead of thinking they should like us for who we really are. In her marriage to Roger Vadim she became the sex kitten. In her marriage to Tom Hayden she became the political wife. In her marriage to Ted Turner she became the compliant trophy wife of a volatile, difficult man. When you lose your own identity to become someone else’s vision of you, it erodes your self-esteem and can create some difficult self-image issues.

  18. KLO says:

    Jane Fonda has been saying those exact same things for at least 10 years now. As a fan, personally, it`s funny to me how people are always surprised to see her “finally” come into her own and admitting all this.
    None of which she said is new information really. (shrug)

    I think it is cool of her to talk about everything she talks about though. As someone in her early thirties I have gathered a lot of wisdom from her to help me not make the same mistakes as she did and I am grateful.

  19. Lala11_7 says:

    On loving having her knee replaced: “I was just starting a new relationship and I had to be able to kneel.”

    And…I’m DED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!