From Trump Takedown to Feminist Crusades: Meryl Streep's Most Politically Charged Moments
Her Golden Globes speech wasn't the first
Meryl Streep has been making headlines for decades. Oftentimes, they’re about her work: her many, many awards and nominations, her celebrated performances, her unparalleled career. But they’ve also come from her activism. So when Streep’s Golden Globe acceptance speech on Sunday became a politically charged moment, it shouldn’t come as a surprise — she’s long proved herself to be anything but silent when it comes to politics.
1. Her Golden Globes speech.
Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the 2017 Golden Globes, Streep took her time on stage not to discuss her career, or her favorite roles, but rather, the state of the country. Without mentioning Donald Trump’s name — or the words “president-elect” — once, she took a hit at him, in particular, calling out the moment when Trump mocked a disabled reporter on the campaign trail.
“It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter,” she said. “Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. Okay, go on with it.”
Streep’s speech riled Trump, as he tweeted that she was “overrated” and a “Hillary flunky” the next day.
2. Her DNC speech.
The reason why Trump called Streep a “Hillary flunky”? She’s a longtime Clinton supporter and even gave a speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, which started — arms raised — with a scream. She went on to name many historic women in American history, starting with Deborah Samson, the first female to take a bullet for the United States, and finished with Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee for president from a major political party.
3. Her plea to Congress to revive the ERA.
The Equal Rights Amendment died went the ratification deadline passed, just three states short of the 38 necessary having signed on. In 2015, Streep encouraged Congress to revive it: She sent all 535 members of Congress a personalized letter, appealing to them to resurrect the ERA and bring it back to Capitol Hill.
“I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality — for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself — by actively supporting the equal rights amendment,” she wrote. “A whole new generation of women and girls are talking about equality — equal pay, equal protection from sexual assault, equal rights.” And she took time to remind Senate members that such an amendment wouldn’t only benefit women. “The ERA is not just a women’s rights issue; it will have a meaningful benefit for the whole human family.”
With the letter, Streep sent each member of Congress a copy of the book Equal Means Equal by Jessica Neuwirth, president of the E.R.A. Coalition. Sadly, Streep received only five replies to her package.
4. She got pumped up when Patricia Arquette mentioned equal pay in her Oscars speech.
In 2015, Patricia Arquette took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Boyhood. At the end of her acceptance speech, Arquette made an impassioned plea for pay parity, saying, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” No one was more psyched about this statement than Streep, who cheered in her seat and could be seen yelling, “Yes! Yes!” alongside an also-excited Jennifer Lopez.
5. Her Women in the World summit speech.
Long before Clinton launched her 2016 campaign, Streep was a big fan. She gave a speech at the 2012 Women in the World summit about her admiration for Clinton — and recounted their similarities.
6. She’s a self-described “man-eating feminist.”
At the National Board of Review gala in 2014, Streep delivered another epic speech, this one, in honor of her friend and fellow actress Emma Thompson. She shared many reasons she admires Thompson, one of which says something about herself: “She’s a man-eating feminist, like I am,” Streep said.
7. She’s starred in PSAs.
In a PSA for Draw the Line, a campaign for protecting reproductive rights, Streep was brought in as the “big guns” to encourage people to spread the word about the campaign. After all, when you need to get something done, you call Streep.
8. She’s the spokesperson for the first-ever National Women’s History Museum.
Clearly, Streep is passionate about women’s rights — so much so that she was appointed the national spokesperson for the country’s first National Women’s History Museum. And in 2010, she pledged a whopping $1 million to the cause.
9. She talks about female empowerment and opportunities for women pretty much whenever she can.
If Streep is taking the stage at an awards show, chances are, she’ll speak about women’s rights. She’s quick to praise producers who create varied, challenging roles for women, and who support female-led films. She’s always doling out compliments to her fellow actresses on their exceptional performances. She frequently discusses her own grandmother, who didn’t have the right to vote, as one of her inspirations. Basically, if you find yourself in conversation with Streep, it’ll be a lively, poignant one to savor and remember.