During last night’s Suffragette after-party I sidled up to Meryl Streep and asked what she thought of Davis Guggenheim‘s They Called Me Malala, an affecting if somewhat sermonizing doc about teenaged education activist Malala Yousafzai. (Here’s my review.) “We’re living through quite a time, aren’t we?,” Streep said. “With films like this people are really getting an understanding what an arduous struggle it was and still is in many places to be a woman.” I replied that Suffragette really conveyed this to me, the struggle aspect. “What?,” she said. (It was a noisy party.) “Suffragette really conveyed the struggle thing,” I said.
Then I mentioned Islam’s notoriously repressive beliefs and confining policies about women. Streep gave me one of those narrow-eyed “oh, yeah?” looks.
Me: “What…you don’t subscribe to the view that Islamic culture is the worst in the world in terms of repressing women, keeping them from being educated, subservient to men and all that?” Streep: “I don’t really know all that much about Islam. Do you?” Me: “Well, when you put it that way, no. I’ve never spent any time in the Middle East or studied Islamic faith. But others have studied it and the culture and there’s a considerable body of opinion that Muslims are not what anyone would call enlightened as far as women are concerned.”
Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamibgoye was listening in and suggested to Meryl that the Muslim faith has been hijacked by radicals. Streep: “I think that Malala showed that there are some enlightened aspects of Islam…open minds, kind hearts…that Islam can be a forgiving faith.”
I was about to change the subject when Streep was pulled away by a publicist and introduced to someone else. Note: I didn’t tape our chat — it’s strictly reconstructed from memory but I’ve got a Truman Capote-like recall.
Suffragette costar Meryl Streep, director Sarah Gavron during last night’s after-party at Telluride’s Arroyo Wine Bar.