During a Q&A with the “Big Little Lies” cast at the women’s working space The Wing, Streep told moderator Radhika Jones she finds using labels like toxic masculinity hurtful to young men.
“We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity,” Streep said, according to InStyle. “And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together ... because women can be pretty fucking toxic. It’s toxic people.”
She added that the label is “less helpful” when trying to bring people together.
“We have our good angles and we have our bad ones,” Streep continued. “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.”
Toxic masculinity, however, does not mean men themselves are problematic. Instead, it refers to the social constructs and strict gender norms placed on men that tell them they have to reject anything traditionally feminine, such as showing emotion or liking the color pink.
The Good Men Project defines the phrase as “a narrow and repressive description of manhood” defined by “violence, sex, status, and aggression.”
“It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness,” the organization explains. “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 hypersexual — are the means by which your status as ‘man’ can be taken away.”