Meryl Streep Explains How Hollywood Execs Can Make the Industry Less Sexist
As a 40-year Hollywood veteran, Meryl Streep not only talks about the industry's staggering inequality toward women, she is actively pursuing ways to correct it. For example, she used her own money to help fund a screenwriting lab for women writers over 40. She’s publicly championed her peers who have had the courage to speak out against the gender bias. She rallies women to use their voices as activist Emmeline Pankhurst in the upcoming drama Suffragette. And she even took her crusade to Congress, appealing for the Equal Rights Amendment to be revived. Now, in a new interview, the Oscar-winning actress and activist suggests a way for executives to gauge and fix the inequality around them.
Time Out asks Streep what single thing she would change about the film industry to make it less sexist. In response, the Oscar winner offers a simple, logical suggestion that could be applied to all industries.
"Men should look at the world as if something is wrong when their voices predominate," Streep says. "They should feel it. People at agencies and studios, including the parent boards, might look around the table at the decision-making level and feel something is wrong if half their participants are not women. Because our tastes are different, what we value is different. Not better, different."
Streep's pro-active emphasis extends to all aspects of the interview, with the actress explaining what present-day women could learn from suffragettes: "Don’t give up or give in in the face of patronizing ridicule, amused disdain or being ignored."
Streep also suggests that she regularly faces patronizing questions from press, when describing the most annoying remark she receives from reporters. Her answer: "You often play very strong women ... Why do you choose ... ? Blah blah blah. No man is ever asked: 'You often play very strong men. Why?' It would be an absurd question."
In a conversation with Michelle Obama earlier this year, Streep discussed the cause even further: "We're viewed as equals — but we're still not there yet ... For the first time, we have the expectation that we can have a broad array of choices, that we could lead in almost any part of society. And yet we face resistance. We see that here at home in our government — in the House and the Senate. We see that in our boardrooms. We see that in Hollywood."
"The challenge for our girls, I think, is dealing with that resistance," Streep continued. "How can we lift and defuse it, how do we make it so our equality is not so threatening?"
In the new interview with Time Out, Streep also reveals the motto she tries to live by, which seems especially apt in light of her equal-rights activism: "Do what you can."
More From Vanity Fair:
• See Miss Piggy Spice Up the All-Male Late-Night Landscape
• Watch Billy Eichner Prove Tina Fey Can Fail
• Rob Lower's Kids Are Way More Impressed With Mary Elizabeth Ellis than Their Dad
• Nicki Minaj's Life Is Being Turned into a Family Sitcom
Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.