Meryl Streep Isn’t Really a Feminist – Tee Shirt Says
So, Meryl Streep is one of the most if not the most respected actresses of her generation and this isn’t recognition implemented because everybody thinks so – but rather an acknowledgement of a body of work that speaks for itself.
She has also been quite vocal about the unfair treatment levied on fellow actresses who haven’t had the opportunity to fully utilize their skills in ways that she was fortunate enough to be granted. Earlier this year she announced an initiative geared towards women over forty who have stories to tell but lack the platform to voice them.
For all intents and purposes – Streep has always said and done all the right things – until now.
Her recent choice to don a Tee shirt that reads “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” in an effort to help promote her upcoming film Suffragette that also stars The Great Gatsby’s Carey Mulligan has proven to be unrelentingly detrimental. Emmeline Pankhurst – the character Streep portrays in the film, uttered those incriminating words and despite the historical significance behind them, we can’t ignore the fact that considering the current racial climate, resurrecting ill-willed phrases will always be categorized as an unfortunate mistake.
But Streep doesn’t seem to comprehend the levity of her actions and proudly models her Tee-shirt with the backing of a an outdated declaration by her supposed mascot. Here is the full statement from the past – “Know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave”.
Lately white actresses like Anne Hathaway, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Liv Tyler to name a few have been crying foul when it comes to the recent state of affairs in Hollywood as it pertains to the treatment of actresses of a certain age. This public outcry is particularly notable because it captures the essence of “white privilege” at it’s best. Each of these women has shamelessly enjoyed the benefits of being the designated ingénues of their era – but now that they are being replaced by younger more efficient models like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Felicity Jones, the list goes on – the reality of their instinctual greed is hitting them like a ton of bricks. Suddenly they are no longer included in the “sought-after” bunch, which means they actually have to work for a living.
So consumed with their downgraded status, they fail to even fathom what actresses of color continuously contend with which in addition to having to juggle sexism includes the stark realization that no matter how good they are – they will never match the momentum of their fairer counterparts.
Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o will never enjoy the revelations of a materialized talent in the same fashion that the less talented Julia Roberts indulged in after portraying a whore in the classic entrée Pretty Woman. That astutely sums up what it’s like to be a black actress in Hollywood.
But neither Streep nor her army of clones will ever adequately internalize this truth and it’s not because they don’t want to – it is due to the severe effects of white privilege. An illness with no cure because it’s overpowering symptoms render it a necessary force of reckoning.
Feminism is supposed to empower women across the board but in Hollywood that anthem has never been applicable.
And that most likely will never change.