Why Meryl Streep Once Called Emma Thompson a ‘Man-Eating Feminist’ in Speech About Disney

Meryl Streep has been known to be outspoken about certain issues. The three-time Oscar-winner has occasionally used her platform to call attention to real issues affecting all kinds of people. In one instance, the actor used her voice in the industry to voice her approval against Disney. And she brought up her good friend Emma Thompson in the process.

Meryl Streep once blasted Walt Disney

Meryl Streep smiling in a black dress.
Meryl Streep | Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Streep delivered a powerful speech at 2014’s National Board of Review Gala. Before presenting the award for best actress, The Little Women star, took the time to call out Walt Disney. Disney had been accused of having certain anti-Semitic and sexist tendencies, with which Streep put the animator on blast.

“Some of his associates reported that Walt Disney didn’t really like women,” Streep said according to Vanity Fair.

Later, she would reference directly the alleged policies and beliefs of the Disney founder.

“Disney, who brought joy, arguably, to billions of people, was perhaps, or had some…racist proclivities. He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobby,” Streep said. “And he was certainly, on the evidence of his company’s policies, a gender bigot.”

Why Meryl Streep called Emma Thompson a man-eating feminist

Meryl Streep smiling alongside Emma Thompson
Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson | Dan MacMedan/WireImage

During her speech, Streep also referenced Emma Thompson, to who she was presenting the Gala’s best actress award to. Here, Streep highlighted not only Thompson’s accomplishments but her cause.

“Emma considers, carefully, what the f*** she is putting into the culture. Emma thinks, ‘Is this helpful?’ Not, ‘will it build my brand?’ Not, ‘will it give me billions?’” Streep said.

While referencing a letter Disney wrote to an aspiring female animator, Streep labeled both Thompson and herself as feminists.

“Here’s a letter from 1938 stating his company’s policy to a young woman named Mary Ford, of Arkansas, who had made application to Disney for the training program in cartooning,” Streep said. “And I’m going to read it here in Emma’s tribute because I know it will tickle our honoree, because she’s also a rabid, man-eating feminist, like I am.”

Streep then read the letter by Disney to Mary Ford, which asserted that women aren’t allowed to do the creative work in Disney.

The Mamma Mia! alum highlighted Thompson’s creativity, humanity, and personality to discredit the alleged sexism from Disney.

“There’s something so consoling about that old trope, but Emma makes you want to kill yourself, because she’s a beautiful artist, she’s a writer, she’s a thinker, she’s a living, acting conscience,” Streep complimented.

Meryl Streep refused to call herself a feminist

Although she may have labeled herself a feminist at some point, Streep eventually might have taken a different stance.

Streep has been a strong advocate for women’s rights in, not just the entertainment industry, but all walks of life. The Guardian reported how Streep once sent a package to Congress to make it illegal to discriminate against women. She’s offered solutions in her own industry as to how balance can be achieved between genders in the workplace.

“Men should look at the world as if something is wrong when their voices predominate. They should feel it,” Streep said. “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.”

However, Streep didn’t want to put a label on her actions or her feelings. When asked if she was a feminist, Streep declined. Instead, she gave herself an alternate title.

“I am a humanist,” Streep said. “I am for nice, easy balance.”

This answer upset certain fans and bloggers who wanted Streep to own up to the feminist title.

“Meryl Streep not wanting to use the word ‘feminist’ in reference to herself, when everything she’s been doing lately screams ‘feminist’ has me scratching my head so hard I’m starting to see scalp,” one blogger wrote.

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