Streep released a lengthy statement after McGowan accused her of “hypocrisy” around the Harvey Weinstein case.
Meryl Streep has released a statement responding to a tweet by Rose McGowan, who had accused her and other actresses of “hypocrisy” in their reactions to the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
In the tweet, which has since been deleted, McGowan said: “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly and affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should just wear Marchesa.”
McGowan’s tweet came after reports circulated that a group of actresses, potentially including Streep, were planning on wearing black to the Golden Globes to protest sexual misconduct in Hollywood.
Streep worked with Weinstein for decades, but has maintained that she was unaware of his reputation as a sexual predator. In a new statement released to HuffPost by her publicist, Streep countered McGowan’s suggestion that she had been complicit in the culture of silence that allowed Weinstein to allegedly abuse huge numbers of women.
“It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend, but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein’s crimes, not in the Nineties when he attacked her, or through subsequent decades when he proceeded to attack others,” Streep said.
“I wasn’t deliberately silent. I didn’t know. I don’t tacitly approve of rape. I didn’t know. I don’t like young women being assaulted. I didn’t know this was happening.”
Streep added that although Weinstein had produced several films in which she starred, she had never worked particularly closely with him and only visited his office once, in 1998. She said they never visited one another’s homes, and she was never invited to his hotel room.
According to an investigation published in The New Yorker, Weinstein went to extreme lengths to silence women who claimed he had sexually harassed or assaulted them. This included hiring private security agencies to gather information on the women and the journalists trying to report on the allegations. One of these agencies was Black Cube, an organisation run by former Israeli secret service officers.
Weinstein reportedly ordered these agencies to “target” dozens of people over the course of a year, tracking down potentially damaging information about their personal or sexual histories. He also paid at least one Black Cube operative to target McGowan.
In her statement, Streep said that many people who worked in Weinstein’s orbit were not aware of his reputation, largely because the film executive worked hard to hide his behaviour from people whose endorsement he needed.
“[N]ot every actor, actress and director who made films that HW distributed knew he abused women, or that he raped Rose in the Nineties, other women before and others after, until they told us,” she said.
“HW needed us not to know this, because our association with him bought him credibility, an ability to lure young, aspiring women into circumstances where they would be hurt.
“He needed me much more than I needed him and he made sure I didn’t know.”
Streep said she passed on her home telephone to McGowan via mutual friends, in the hope that she could “express both my deep respect for her and others’ bravery in exposing the monsters among us, and my sympathy for the untold, ongoing pain she suffers”.
McGowan had not called her back, Streep said, but that she hoped they could become allies.
“I am truly sorry she sees me as an adversary, because we are both, together with all the women in our business, standing in defiance of the same implacable foe: a status quo that wants so badly to return to the bad old days,” she said. “The old ways where women were used, abused and refused entry into the decision-making, top levels of the industry.”
McGowan has apologised for her original tweet, although she has not retracted her criticism of Streep. Rather, she has said sorry for referencing Marchesa – the label co-founded by Weinstein’s estranged wife, Georgina Chapman.
“The Marchesa line was beneath me and I’m sorry for that,” she wrote on Twitter. “Seeing that picture of Alyssa Milano with GC has ignited something in me that I can’t quite articulate. There is no map for this road I’m on, I will f*** up.”
Milano formerly starred alongside McGowan in Charmed and has been a vocal advocate for the #MeToo movement. However, she is also friends with Chapman, and recently gave an interview in which she described the fashion designer as a “good woman”.
McGowan also posted an emoji in response to a tweet about Streep’s assertion that she had tried to reach her over the phone.
For more on the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, click here.
Images: Rex Features