The actor made her comments while taking part in a Q&A for the upcoming second season of acclaimed television show Big Little Lies, in which Streep is a new cast member.
The three-time Oscar winner explained that she dislikes the term because, in her opinion, all individuals can exhibit toxic behaviour, regardless of gender.
“Sometimes I think we’re hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. I do,” Streep said. “And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together ... because women can be pretty f***ing toxic.”
“It’s toxic people,” the Suffragette star said. “We have our good angles and we have our bad ones.”
Streep added that she thinks labels can be “less helpful” than direct communication when calling out detrimental behaviour.
“We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work,” she said.
Toxic masculinity refers to certain behaviours and attitudes commonly associated with men that are perceived as being harmful, such as repressing emotion and acting in an aggressive manner.
The Good Men Project, an initiative which aims to encourage an “international conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century”, describes toxic masculinity as a form of manhood that’s “defined by violence, sex, status and aggression”.
“One of the ways that masculinity sometimes manifests is through toxic behaviour which ultimately ends in violence, and that violence either is enacted on men themselves, or on other people,” said Tom Ross-Williams, an activist and ambassador for school workshop project the Great Men Project, which is run by gender equality organisation the Good Lad Initiative.
“I think it’s a process of micro-aggressions that escalate to a point where violence is enacted on the world.”
For all the latest news on the second season of Big Little Lies, click here.
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