9 Inspiring Things Meryl Streep Said At The Suffragette Press Conference

Including how Rotten Tomatoes exposes sexism

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Today Meryl Streep proved yet again that she is an awesome human being. At the press conference for Suffragette, alongside Carey Mulligan and directors Sarah Gavron and Abi Morgan, Meryl spoke up about existing inequalities in the film industry and around the world. 

Here are our favourite moments from the interview:

1. 'There are so many stories that haven’t been told. In fact, there’s no such thing as women’s history, there’s history women have been shut out of. There’s a BBC series called "The Assent of Women", and it’s a series we can’t get sold in the United States because there isn’t interest. There isn’t interest in the people who make those decisions. So, it’s a question of rousing that interest.' 

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2. 'I knew a great deal about the suffrage movement in the United States, but not as much about the movement here. I didn’t know that once a woman was married she had no further claim to her name, any property she bought, or her children. Girls could be sold to be married off at 12. I didn’t know those things. For me it’s recent history. My grandmother was alive then, and she was not deemed capable of voting. So I’m passionate about it. It means something to me.' 

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3. 'The great achievement of this film is that it is not about women of a certain class, like Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s about a working girl. And I think that’s why we can enter the film so easily – because Carey plays this young laundress who looks like us.' 

4. 'I think sometimes things are circular. Hearing the stories of women in history fighting for civil rights, so many people think this is the way the world has always been. But this film will circulate the world, and encourage people that have very little hope, people whose lives look almost like the lives of women in 1913.' 

5. There is sexism in the world. The lack of inclusion for women in decision-making in every single institution in the world makes me angry. Why are the people making those decisions not half women? That seems wrong to me. If men don’t look around the table and think something is just wrong if half the people there are not women, then we can’t make any progress. We’re making progress from the bottom up. If women don’t get to decide, how do they write history?'

6. 'Malala Yousafzai is the Emmeline Pankhurst of today.' 

7. '[On her calling herself a humanist and not a feminist] There’s a phrase in this film: "Deeds not words." I let the actions of my life stand for what I am as a human being.'

8. 'In our business, part of a film’s success is driven by buzz. In the US, when people watch movies they go on Rotten Tomatoes. I went deep into Rotten Tomatoes and I counted how many contributers, critics and bloggers, were women. 168 women are allowed to rate, and I thought that was absolutely fantastic. If there were 168 men it would be balanced, if they were 268 it would be unfair but I would be used to it. There were 760 men who weighed in on the Tomato meter. I submit to you that men and women are not the same, but if the Tomato meter is slidded so completely to cater to one group of tastes then the box office reflects that. The New York Film Critics are 37 men and 2 women. This is accepted as received wisdom and everyone says this is just the way it is. We can examine female rights under the same rubric. It isn’t fair and we need inclusion. It should be half and half.'

9. The inequalities between men and women are not disheartening, they are infuriating.

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