She also spoke about her experiences with Dustin Hoffman on the set of Kramer vs Kramer.
Meryl Streep has criticised Melania and Ivanka Trump for not speaking out about the sexual harassment scandal.
The actress, who has been accused of being “deliberately silent” about allegations against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, said she wants to hear from the wife and daughter of the president, who has himself been accused of harassment.
Streep told the New York Times: “I found out about this on a Friday and went home deep into my own life.”
Pointing out that she does not have Twitter or Facebook accounts, she added: “I really had to think. Because it really underlined my own sense of cluelessness, and also how evil, deeply evil, and duplicitous, a person he was, yet such a champion of really great work.
“You make movies. You think you know everything about everybody. So much gossip. You don’t know anything. People are so inscrutable on a certain level. And it’s a shock. Some of my favourite people have been brought down by this, and he’s not one of them.”
Asked how she felt that people were waiting for her to respond, she said: “I don’t want to hear about the silence of me. I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump. I want to hear from her.
“She has so much that’s valuable to say. And so does Ivanka. I want her to speak now.”
Last month Streep responded to criticism from Rose McGowan, insisting she was not “deliberately silent” about sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.
McGowan – who alleges she was raped by Weinstein in 1997 – hit out at reports that some actresses were planning to wear all black to next month’s Golden Globes in protest against the Hollywood abuse scandal that has emerged in recent months.
In a statement to HuffPost, Streep said it “hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines” and that she “wanted to let her know the truth”.
Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
Speaking about her own experiences of harassment in the industry, Streep said: “I have experienced things, mostly when I was young and pretty.
“Nobody comes on to me [now]. So I wouldn’t have had that more recently.
“But back in the day, when everybody was doing cocaine, there was a lot of behaviour that was inexcusable.
“But now that people are older, and more sober, there has to be forgiveness, and that’s the way I feel about it.”
Streep said she did not want to go into specifics, but added: “I was really beaten up, but I don’t want to ruin somebody’s mature life. I just don’t.
“I do think if the world is going to go on, we have to find out a way to work together, and know that it’s better for men if they respect us deeply as equals.”
Streep also addressed questions about Dustin Hoffman’s conduct on the set of Kramer vs Kramer.
He has since faced multiple accusations of harassment.
She said: “This is tricky because when you’re an actor, you’re in a scene, you have to feel free. I’m sure that I have inadvertently hurt people in physical scenes. But there’s a certain amount of forgiveness in that.
“But this was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie. It was overstepping.
“But I think those things are being corrected in this moment. And they’re not politically corrected; they’re fixed. They will be fixed, because people won’t accept it anymore. So that’s a good thing.”
© Press Association 2018