She's spoken out about Hollywood's ageism problem, cheered on as her fellow actresses have called out Hollywood's gender pay gap, and now Meryl Streep is getting to the heart of Hollywood's gender representation problem.
During a panel at New York City's current Women In The World Summit, hosted by Jon Stewart and also featuring directors Ava DuVernay and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Streep summed up the main reason Hollywood remains so reluctant to tell women's stories: the assumption that while women can identify with both female and male characters, men can only identify with other men.
"A lot of it has to do with imagination," said Streep. "This act of empathy that women go through... From the time we're little girls, we read all of literature, all of history, it's really about boys, most of it. But I can feel more like, you know, Peter Pan than Tinkerbell... I wanted to be Tom Sawyer, not Becky!" - and wow, just listen to the way Streep says "Becky".
Recent stats showed that of the top-grossing films produced last year, only 12% of "all clearly identifiable protagonists were female", while 75% were male. In addition, women accounted for only 30% of all speaking characters. So clearly, Hollywood's not brave enough to challenge these assumptions.
"The hardest thing for me, as an actor, is to have a story that men in the audience feel like they know what I feel like," Streep added. "It's very hard for them to put themselves in the shoes of a female protagonist. And this is known to the studios. They know it's the toughest suit of clothes to wear."
Maybe, instead of simply accepting such thinking, Hollywood's bigwigs should take a leaf out of Streep's book and challenge it - earlier this week, it was revealed that the actress was funding a screenwriting lab for women over 40. Just further proof that the world would be a better place with Meryl Streep in charge.
Source: Vanity Fair