With season two of Big Little Lies just around the corner, the much-loved cast have been busy promoting the show.
However, during a Q&A with Vanity Fair, the conversation didn’t just revolve around the upcoming drama. Meryl Streep, who sat alongside her co-stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman, explained why she disagrees with the term ‘toxic masculinity’.
Streep responded to a male fan who said he enjoyed the show, explaining that she was glad that he found something to like, despite not being a woman. She went on to explain how toxic masculinity labels are bad for everyone involved, not just one gender.
‘Sometimes I think we’re hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity,’ she said. ‘I do. And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together… because women can be pretty fucking toxic.’
‘It’s toxic people. We have our good angles and we have our bad ones. I think the labels are less helpful than what we’re trying to get to, which is a communication, direct, between human beings. We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work.’
Streep’s comments highlight one of the dangers of discussing ‘toxic masculinity’ today; that people often misinterpret the term and assume it involves violence and misogyny.
‘Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status, and aggression,’ according to The Good Men Project.
‘It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness: where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly ‘feminine’ traits – which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hyper-sexual – are the means by which your status as ‘man’ can be taken away.’
The second season of Big Little Lies was confirmed by HBO at the end of 2017. Expectations for the second series are high, after series one triumphed at the Golden Globes – winning Best Television Limited Series, plus individual awards for Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgård and Laura Dern.
This article first appeared on ELLE.