Meryl Streep Receives Backlash Over 'Suffragette' Slavery Slogan T-Shirt - NBC New York

Meryl Streep Receives Backlash Over 'Suffragette' Slavery Slogan T-Shirt



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    Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep play early members of the British women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. "Suffragette" is in theaters October 23. (Published Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015)

    Meryl Streep found herself on the receiving end of some major backlash following a t-shirt she wore to promote her new film Suffragette.

    The actress–along with her other female co-stars, including Carey Mulligan–posed proudly for a photo shoot for Time Out London, wearing a white shirt with the slogan, "I'd rather be a rebel than a slave."

    The line comes from a 1913 speech by British woman's rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst (whom Streep portrays in the film). The full passage from the speech reads: "I know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave."

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    However, though a powerful line at the time for women, many people found the slogan alleged racial insensitivity, carrying connotations of slavery and the Confederate rebellion in American history.

    Several activists took to Twitter to slam Streep and her co-stars for promoting the slogan.

    "It’s certainly an inappropriate thing to have four white women wearing slavery T-shirts," Jad Adams, author of "Women and the Vote: A World History," told the Telegraph. "Like a lot of things Emmeline Pankhurst said, [that quote] was excessive."

    Time Out released a statement following the backlash, saying the quote had been taken out of context and that the context of the photoshoot and the feature "were absolutely clear to readers who read the piece" when it was published last week.

    "It has been read by at least half a million people in the UK and we have received no complaints," the publication said.

    "The original quote was intended to rouse women to stand up against oppression – it is a rallying cry, and absolutely not intended to criticize those who have no choice but to submit to oppression, or to reference the Confederacy, as some people who saw the quote and photo out of context have surmised."

    Meanwhile, this is the second bout of criticism Streep has received from this specific interview. She disappointed feminists when she told the publication that she is "a humanist" rather than a feminist and seeks a "nice, easy balance."

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