In a panel at Telluride this weekend, Meryl Streep revealed that congress largely ignored her plea to revive the long-dormant Equal Rights Amendment, explaining that of 535 letters she sent to members of congress earlier this year, only five were returned.
“I sent them each a book called Equal Means Equal by Jessica Neuwirth,” said Streep, who plays British voting rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst in Sarah Gavron’s upcoming voting rights drama “Suffragette.” “It’s about the revival of the attempt to get an ERA [Equal Rights Amendment], that would codify in law that you can’t discriminate against women. I got five answers.”
Explaining that her own feminist sentiments were kindled hearing her mother be forced to ask her father for money when she was a kid (“I remember thinking, ‘I will never have to ask anybody for money. I will have my own money’”), Streep also spoke out about the much-discussed issue of gender inequality in Hollywood, pointing out that only 1% of films have a female director at the helm.
“It has to do with our discomfort with women in leadership,” she explained. At an earlier Telluride panel, she pointed out that female filmmakers “do exist, they graduate, they’re good – and then they don’t get hired. Why?” Alas, we might get some sort of an answer soon: "Maureen Dowd is writing a great big exposé about this question in the New York Times Magazine coming up soon,” she added.
Streep also name-checked the pope, calling his work with the poor and on global warming “amazing” but imploring him to speak out more about equal rights. "He must address issues of inequality,” she said. "The conversation changes when women are at the table.”
You tell 'em, Meryl.