At Sunday evening's ceremony, Portman - who presented an award with Timothée Chalamet - walked the red carpet wearing a custom Dior gown complete with cape which had the names of female directors embroidered on it.
The names, including Little Women's Greta Gerwig, The Farewell's Lulu Wang and Hustler's Lorene Scafaria, were to highlight the fact that no female directors were included in the nominations for that category this year.
On Wednesday, McGowan - an activist who regularly rallies for women in the film industry and who came forward as a Harvey Weinstein accuser in 2017 - lambasted Portman in a strongly worded statement saying she finds her 'type of activism deeply offensive to those who actually do the work'.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, McGowan hit back at people praising Portman's statement as 'brave' and criticised the Oscar-winning actor for allegedly working with only 'two female directors in your very long career - one of them was you. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director - you'.
Portman respond hours later, telling People that, firstly, she agreed with McGowan 'that it is inaccurate to call me "brave" for wearing a garment with women's names on it. Brave is . term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein in the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.'
She then defended herself against McGowan's critique of working with few female directors, by arguing that female-led films are often very difficult to get made, financed, distributed and awarded appropriately 'because of the gatekeepers at every level'. She claimed to have also helped female directors get work, only for them to then be forced out because of the conditions they had to work with.
'I want to say, I have tried and I will keep trying,' Portman concluded in her statement. 'While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day.'
McGowan has not yet responded to Portman.
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