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Last week the ‘Women’s March on Washington’ took place to protest against the inauguration of Donald Trump alongside sister marches around the world. As a result, we have chosen to select a woman who has recently used her place in the public eye to call out Trump for his behavior as our Woman of the Week.

Oscar award winning actress, Meryl Streep, is perhaps best known for her versatility and success in her acting. Her list of roles is extensive and wide ranging, from her harrowing performance in Sophie’s Choice to the lighthearted, comedy musical Mamma Mia. To date she has been nominated for 19 academy awards (more than any other actor), and has also received 30 golden globe nominations.

As well as her extensive acting commendations, Streep has also been signaled as a champion for body confidence, encouraging young women not to worry about their looks as she did herself as a younger woman. In a speech she gave when collecting an honorary doctorate from Indiana University, she also expressed her desire for younger generations to have more confidence, stating that “what makes you different or weird, that’s your strength”.

In recent weeks Meryl Streep has gained further attention for her acceptance speech at the 2017 Golden Globes ceremony. Collecting the Cecil B. DeMille award, she gave an impassioned speech, highlighting that those in the room “really belong to be most vilified segments in American society right now… Hollywood, foreigners and the press”. Her speech focused further on the press and the need to protect the freedom of the press in the wake of the Trump administration. Streep argued that “we need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage”. The press was vital, she continued, with the support of the Hollywood community “to safeguard the truth”.

However, perhaps the most notable part of her speech was her criticism of Donald Trump’s mocking of disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski whilst on the campaign trail in 2015. Discussing the actions of Trump, she said that “it kind of broke my heart when I saw it… because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life”. Streep also highlighted the effect of such humiliation by someone in the “public platform” as it, she noted, gives permission for other people to do the same”.

Meryl’s Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxyGmyEby40

Responses to Meryl Streep’s speech have been overwhelmingly positive. Fellow actor and Trump critic Robert De Niro penned an open letter to Streep in response to her speech, stating that it “needed to be said”. He continued by saying that had so much respect “that you did it whilst the world was celebrating your achievements. I share your sentiments about punks and bullies. Enough is enough”.  However, Donald Trump, using his communication of choice, Twitter, tweeted a number of comments degrading and criticizing Meryl Streep in response. He labeled her as  “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood and claimed she was a “Hilary flunky who lost big”. He went on to add that he didn’t mock a disabled reporter and “would never do that”.

Despite Trump’s comments, Streep’s speech has undeniably garnered support from celebrities and much of the public alike, who were also shocked and upset by Trump’s behavior. Streep’s use of her public status to challenge such blatant bullying clearly reflect her attitudes towards using her celebrity status to encourage and empower. Meryl Streep is therefore certainly worthy of our Woman of the Week.

 

Second year History Student 
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