Meryl Streep cops a backlash for “offensive” t-shirt 101



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Meryl Streep has come under fire for wearing a t-shirt with a bold slogan on the cover of a magazine. Streep was promoting her new film, Suffragette, a biopic about the women’s suffrage movement in England, which should incite a healthy debate about feminism… but instead, everyone’s talking about race.

Below is the cover in question, with Streep wearing the slogan “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” along with a smile. Her co-star Carey Mulligan appeared in a similar cover, only the picture was cropped so her t-shirt only read, “I’d rather be a rebel”.

meryl streep tshirt

The phrase is a quote from 1913 by British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, who Streep plays in the film, reports Mashable. However, in 2015, the word “slave” is laden with a different kind of meaning and people are not impressed by its use.

When the magazine – Time Out London – was released in the UK,  no one mentioned anything about slavery, however US audiences reacted strongly.

“No one thought this was a bad idea? Come on Streep. You’re smiling with the word slave on a T-shirt,” tweeted one observer.


However, as Mashable observes, the focus on whether or not the t-shirt is racist distracts from the words in the article, in which Streep says she is actually not a feminist.

“I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance,” she says.

What do you make of Meryl Streep wearing this t-shirt? Is it offensive? Should she have known better?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I think the people carrying on about the t shirt have got too much time on their hands. How petty and stupid not to realise it’s a promo shirt from her gig.

  2. We can get a bit “precious” sometimes …… But then probably the word has a different connotation in USA

  3. OMG get over it, it is a slogan, I say it all the time that I will not be anyone’s slave. It does not have any other connotations at all, has nothing to do with any negro what so ever as the same with this t-shirt. We are all becoming to precious. She is saying a woman should have a life of her own and she should not be shackled to the house.

  4. If I were a slave my reaction would be to rebel. People get up in arms about meaningless things.

  5. This much over sensitivity from a race whose young people call each other the N word in their own ‘songs’? Get a grip.

  6. Get over it and if it was not for those of 1913where would we be so please stop been so precious

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