Meryl Streep Doesn't Agree With the Term "Toxic Masculinity"
She says it hurts everyone.
Fans are undoubtedly excited to get their Big Little Lies fix — now with an extra helping of Meryl Streep. Before the big season 2 premiere next weekend, the Wing hosted a Q&A with the cast, hosted by Radhika Jones of Vanity Fair, and most of the Monterey 5 were in attendance alongside Streep, including Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Nicole Kidman. The talk didn't just revolve around the drama bubbling up at Otter Bay Elementary School. During the talk, Streep said that she doesn't like the term "toxic masculinity," because it's not just guys who can be toxic, it's people in general.
The topic came up when an attendee shared a story about how Kidman was told by a male fan that he enjoyed the show. Streep chimed in, saying that she was glad he found something to like, even though he wasn't a woman. She added that the label of toxic masculinity is detrimental to everyone, because it's the individuals involved that are toxic, not an entire gender. That sort of generalization, she says, hurts men and women alike. What she thinks we all need is a little more communication.
"Sometimes, I think we're hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. I do. And I don't find [that] putting those two words together … because women can be pretty fucking toxic," Streep said. "It's toxic people. We have our good angles and we have our bad ones. I think the labels are less helpful than what we're trying to get to, which is a communication, direct, between human beings. We're all on the boat together. We've got to make it work."
The idea of toxic masculinity isn't only relegated to women's studies classes and online harassment. The specific kind of toxicity Streep is talking about involves a kind of hyper-gendered behavior. It's not saying outright that men are evil or inherently violent. The danger today involves people misinterpreting the term and assuming that it covers things such as violence and misogyny.
"Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status, and aggression," explains The Good Men Project. "It's the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly 'feminine' traits — which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual — are the means by which your status as 'man' can be taken away."
Streep didn't just talk about boys being boys. When she finished discussing outdated gender norms, she got back to the BLL action and added that she's a huge fan of co-star Shailene Woodley, telling everyone in attendance that she's an actual miracle. She even threw in a little promotion, since Woodley wasn't there to do it herself.
"Shailene is just a miracle in this. I have to say. I'm glad she's not here because I can talk about her. I mean, she's a miracle. She's so ... open to the role. She did a film called Adrift this year, which I don't know if anybody saw, because of course they didn't promote it," Streep said. "I saw it. It's fantastic — if you can see this film, Adrift. Based on a true story. But that's her. Her pores are open. She shows everything. I mean, it's just ... I can't wait for you to see her transformation."