Keira Knightley: ‘Feminism is… the recognition that we are still not equal’


Keira Knightley covers the July issue of ELLE UK. It’s a pretty uninspired cover, right? I expect more from Keira and from ELLE UK. She’s wearing Gucci on the cover, and in the editorial, she wears Saint Laurent, D&G and MiuMiu. In the interview, she talks about her new movie, Begin Again (that’s the one with Mark Ruffalo) and she touches on The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch a little bit. Some highlights:

She doesn’t want her future daughter to be a child actress: “Oh, 100%, I’d absolutely tell her not to. I would 150 million trillion per cent be totally discouraging. Teenage years should be done privately. You should be going out and getting unbelievably drunk, getting into ridiculous situations, making mistakes. That’s what that time of life is about and we should do that privately…Saying that, I don’t regret it – I wouldn’t do my life any differently, but having lived through it…There was a very long time when [interviewers] were all: “Well you’re a sh*t actress and you’re anorexic and people hate you” which, for a teenager is a very strange thing.’

This is all we get about Cumby: She talked about her long-standing friendship with Benedict Cumberbatch, and why she is very glad she didn’t have to kiss him in their film, The Imitation Game, out this November.

Feminism & the film industry: “There is an under-representation of our stories, just as there is an under-representation of us in politics and in business and everywhere. That’s what feminism is [to me] right now – the recognition that we are still not equal. I absolutely love guys. I love hanging out around them – well, not all of them, some of them are d**kheads – but you know, the ones that I love, I love. But you have to recognize that the playing field isn’t even yet, and it does have to be even. And you can still like clothes.”

[From ELLE UK & The Malay Mail]

I knew Keira and Benedict have been friends for a while – they did Atonement together (that was the film where he played a child molester). I’m guessing that might be why she didn’t want to kiss him in The Imitation Game? I can’t wait for those quotes. As for Keira’s feminism… I think she’s on point. I wish she didn’t go immediately to the justification that you can be a feminist AND like men. Are we still playing to the demographic that thinks feminism = man-hater? But yes, women are not equal in film, business, politics, everything. She’s right.



Photos courtesy of ELLE UK.

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118 Responses to “Keira Knightley: ‘Feminism is… the recognition that we are still not equal’”

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  1. Lilacflowers says:

    Could somebody please hand Keira’s interview to Shaleine Woodley and be sure that she reads it?

    • Gwen says:

      That was my first thought too.

    • SpookySpooks says:

      I love Keira so much.

    • Kiddo says:


      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        I was about to get agitated when she said “I absolutely love guys” (we shouldn’t have to add that every time we say that we’re a feminist) but she saved it by saying “some are d*ckheads”-way to keep it real instead of sticking to the script.

        LOVED what she said (and I am very far from a fan of hers).

      • bluhare says:

        Exactly, TOK!!! And I’m no fan either.

      • MaiGirl says:

        I’m afraid I never enjoyed her acting. but she NAILED IT with her definition of feminism, and since so many (mostly young) female celebrities do not get at all, I gotta take her off my irrational dislike list :D

      • Camille (The Original) says:

        @MaiGirl: I agree with you and I may have to do the same! lol

      • FLORC says:

        Add me to the group that isn’t a fan, but loves what she said!

    • frisbeejada says:

      Are we sure she can actually read?

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Or comprehend what she’s reading?

      • Lilacflowers says:

        Then somebody should read it to her. And point out to her that she will never earn the same as most of her male counterparts of similar age and experience.

      • FLORC says:

        She does seem more like the type to repeat what she hears in circle conversation.
        But like she says. What she thinks is her truth. And it will be her truth until she grows up and grasps a better understanding of feminism.

    • Dani2 says:

      Yes, maybe send her the link via twitter or send her a hand-written letter? Either one sounds good to me.

    • Jules says:

      But won’t Shaylean just say we are all ‘haters’ that aren’t part of the ‘sisterhood’? Or maybe she could learn something……….but I doubt it.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        We are all tearing her down because we’re jealous, man hating feminists.

      • wolfpup says:

        Feminism is about ideas. It is a philosophical dialogue. It is an agent of change for women, and for the men who love them.

      • FLORC says:

        +1 Wolfpup!

      • LadySlippers says:


        Oh Dahling, clearly she has no idea about you. Everyone, everywhere knows how much you worship pool boys and manage to yet be a feminist. That takes true talent. Perhaps she simply lacks that talent and if so, I just pity her. Poor thang. 😉


        Exactly. It’s not a hard concept to grasp. She needs to learn what feminism *really* is and not just what she *thinks* it is.

    • Ari says:

      same thoughts exactly

    • Diane says:

      thank you for posting my exact thoughts.

    • kibbles says:

      Was planning to come here and state the same thing after reading Woodley’s idiotic comments in NYMag.

    • MsGoblin says:

      My first thought, too!

    • Hiddles forever says:

      Yeah, this interview should be handed straight to Shailene please!

    • M.A.F. says:

      Right? Finally someone who doesn’t have their head up their ass about the word.

    • Mltpsych says:

      She totally shaded Shaliene here – her interview immediately came to mind. Keira rocks!

  2. Kiddo says:

    Holy crap, it’s more surprising when someone gets it right, lately.

  3. in_theory says:

    I have a strange dislike for Keira and I wished she’d closed her mouth on all of these pictures, but at least she gets feminism right. And to me it almost sounds like a reply to Shailene Woodley.

    • lower-case deb says:

      the scary thing is that the media might make it into a catfight between Keira and Shailene just because…

      kinda like they make it into a Jolie vs Paltrow thing with the “mommy brigade” quote even though the context is nothing remotely like it.

      • Chinoiserie says:

        Well I doubt that Keira ad Shailene have ever met so making up a cat fight would not be very believable so thankfully maybe there won´t be.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Same here. I thought what she said about her daughter was typical Keira mushmouth, but hooray for her contradicting SW’s idiotic remarks about feminism.

    • qwerty says:

      The “And you can still like clothes.” part reminded me more of JLaw, actually. She said recently that she’s suspicious of girl who don’t have female friends but then she was like “I’m friends with girl like me – girls who eat and don’t care about fashion” So, basically you have to like girls but not the girly ones. Oh, STFU.

    • in_theory says:

      Yeah, I like hanging out with guys much more than with women, and I’m still a feminist. While feminism is not about hating men it’s also not about loving every woman on earth or having to be in some sisterhood with them.

    • Rae says:

      Yes. And I felt like the whole thing about liking men was specifically aimed at the disturbingly prevalent belief that being a feminist means you hate men.

  4. Lindy79 says:

    At least she gets that feminism is fundamentally about equality, not hating men or wanting them wiped out.

    I’d say it could be that they are friends but more likely the fact that it would be an unusual choice given that Turing was gay and they may feel anything like that (even if they use some sort of cover for him) is taking away from his story. They could be twisting the teaser to get his fans interested and riled up?

  5. Esti says:

    So refreshing to read. And I think she said that about men to explicitly set straight everyone who goes “I’m not a feminist because I like men.”

  6. Londerland says:

    *raises imaginary glass*

    Good, succinct, no-nonsense. Obviously feminism is more complex than her simple comment, and it is sad that she went right away to the “feminists like men and clothes too!” but this is where we are right now: having to claw back the most basic understanding of feminism from idiots who think it’s about man-hating. So good for Keira.

    • Artemis says:

      It is sad but on the other hand, it gives those who label feminists ‘feminazis’ or man-hating bra-burning lesbians not a leg to stand on because that’s usually the only argument they have up their sleeve. Women are so scared to offend men as if those men who would take it personally are worth our attention, pssh . I think we should be allowed to call male privilege and violence out without men (and women) having to be al #notallmen about it. Yes, there is radical feminism but the feminism that seems to be most represented is very liberal and all about equality so those who remain hatefully ignorant are doing it wilfully.

      I think it was Chimamanda Ngozi that said that she responded to criticism by saying she’s a feminist that likes make-up etc… every time somebody tried to stereotype feminism. That’s what I started to do to.

    • Sighs says:

      Yes. You have to start somewhere. Love her.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Yes! I find myself inordinately glad there are some young female celebs out there who understand what feminism is. Keira for me is a palate cleanser right now.

  7. Ollyholly says:

    At least she kind of knows what it means, I really hate people assuming being a feminist means we are ANTI MEN. Like, no, sit down and read a book.

    I hate that cover, it’s one of the worst I have ever seen- from the styling to the colours, it’s awwwwwful.

    • in_theory says:

      That cover is awful, and I don’t think the very dark hair suits her at all. What is she, thirty? She looks at least ten years older with that hair.

      • Sighs says:

        I don’t mind the dark, but maybe add some highlights?

      • in_theory says:

        Maybe. The hair is all one dark colour, which looks unnatural, because hair, unless it’s dyed, usually has several darker and lighter strands. At least mine does.

  8. Anthea says:

    I really like her. She’s a decent enough actress and not overexposed. I’ve liked a lot of the films she’s been in.

  9. Lorna says:

    The drinking age is 21…

    • Lindy79 says:

      Its 18 in the UK but yes, they would be considered the end of the teenage years. I dont know anyone that waited until 18 though.

    • Lollipop says:

      18 or 16 in most European countries. And most teenagers get drunk before that.

    • Chinoiserie says:

      She is British and giving an interview to Elle UK. So the drinking age is 18. Not that I am most passionate advocate of teenage drinking lol I am 22 and never been actually drunk. But there is nothing from with 18 and 19 year olds getting drunk (occasionally not like some people I know that spend the whole weekends drunk).

    • Clara says:

      Well in Europe’s 18 and why would anyone be naive about teenagers and their drinking habits in this day and age, is beyond me.

      • Lisa says:

        In my country it is 14 if you drink with meals.

      • Pinka says:

        Uk law: For someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, except where the child is 16 or 17 years old and accompanied by an adult. In this case it is legal for them to drink, but not buy, beer, wine and cider with a table meal.

  10. Kali says:

    Well, clearly, yes, it still has to be spelled out that you can be a feminist and still like men. Have the last 5 years and 50 bajillion starlets who don’t understand the meaning of feminism not spelled that out?

  11. Helvetica says:

    Spot on, Keira! She gives a great interview. And she has more sense than Shailene Woodley who keeps botching the meaning of feminism.

  12. mkyarwood says:

    Just read a Steinem quote this morning about Ms. Hathaway, who researched everything to play Fantine and hoped Fantine’s situation would only be found in stories in the future — rather than real life. None of that was covered, tho. Just Annie’s big nipples.

    • SpookySpooks says:

      She said that in her Oscar speech and people mocked her for it. Because mocking her was so cool last year.

      • bluhare says:

        I don’t get why people can’t stand Hathaway either, but you’ve got to admit she got pretty insufferable with the Oscar schtick.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        I too found her to be a bit grating during the Oscar campaign but the hate for her was WAY over-the-top.
        She’s a very capable actress.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yeah, I always liked her before that, but she turned into a grasping, desperate for attention, barf inducing nudge for that year. The whole pick me! Pick me! Then the wide-eyed “who, me?” act was just too much.

  13. lucy2 says:

    Good for her, she was one of the few young women who has spoken correctly about it.

  14. Nighty says:

    Finally, someone with a brain commenting on feminism… Thank you Keira… Women around the world thank you… :)

  15. Sighs says:

    I’m so proud of her for not caving into the pressure to have her breasts done! Small chested girls unite!

    • kiwi says:

      Absolutely, I’m right there with you! She’s just stunning as she is, I think a boob job would have looked strange on her, even if they were small implants.

    • bob says:

      A cup for life!

  16. Chris says:

    Is it just me or have others noticed that the feminist movement has been galvanized by the tragic events at Isla Vista?

    • LAK says:

      It better be. That was a gender hate crime, even though some men were caught in the cross hairs.

    • videli says:

      Incidentally, that was not the first misogyny-motivated mass shooting I know of. In 2009 in the Pittsburgh area a guy in his 40s shot several women in a fitness center, because, yes, he couldn’t get laid. I always wondered at the time why it did not make national news.

  17. elo says:

    I got tanked regularly as a teenager so I totally get what she is saying ;) . It’s nice that she gets a fundamental basic of feminism, but I really wish they would stop asking young Hollywood this question. A large portion of them have no clue what they are talking about and are generally not educated enough on the issue to really form an intelligible reply. Keira’s is better than some, but it still seems like it lacks substance, maybe because she brings up loving men.

    • SpookySpooks says:

      She had to bring up loving men because that is what feminsm is reduced to today – dressing like a guy and hating men.

      • Shijel says:

        It’s true to an extent. There has emerged a large and very vocal portion of young women (and sometimes older), often just teenagers who proudly declare how men should die and other equally vile things. It was confined to Tumblr hellhole for a while, but it’s spreading virulently. The prevailing logic is “men can’t be oppressed, saying “[incredibly offensive thing” only results in a guy’s hurt feelings, but women DIEEE.”
        People outside the movement unfortunately notice these extremists and not the true force behind the movement and so it has become necessary to add “but men are fine too” to “I’m a feminist.” The present wave of feminism is just the other end of the horseshoe, fighting for the right thing in a very wrong way.

    • elo says:

      Wow! Shijel, I had no idea that was a thing today, maybe because I’m too old for Tumblr, lol. I really reduced it to wanting to avoid the stereotype of man hating feminazi. Feminism can’t be reduced to a quote, or a sound bite, it’s an ongoing conversation that is broad and runs so deep culturally, I think that is why this question makes even the stars that get it sound clueless.

  18. ray says:

    actors should keep their mouth shut. who asked for their thoughts on feminism ? Reminds me of a movie where a terrorist is going to blow LA and his sidekicks asks ‘but tha’ts where all the stars live.’ and main terrorist goes.. ‘oh yeah what would we do without their razor sharp political advice’ I never forgot that line :)

  19. K.B. says:

    She’s my only remaining girl crush. I’m actually kind of sad that this is Elle UK because I have no way to get my hands on it. I wish US magazines put more classy, smart, well-spoken celebrities on magazine covers. Too bad there’s dozens of magazines, 12 months in a year, and about 4 people who fit the bill.

    • Just here says:

      I agree. I rather like her. I think she’s a great actress.

      I also agree on the current dearth of female public figures whom I can relate to.

  20. Damaris says:

    Well, someone actually f—–g gets it! Kudos to Keira. No one is asking these actresses to be philosophers on feminism, but as a woman in 2014, you should know a little about it.

  21. aenflex says:

    The demographic that think feminism = man-hater is very, very large. I think many feminists come off as man-haters, and this doesn’t at all help the cause. I like what she said.

    • frisbeejada says:

      I don’t think it’s a case of coming off as man haters, I think the problem is that culturally men have been dominant for so long that any hint of criticism is presumed to be hatred, when it’s simply criticism – often valid… JMHO

      • I Choose Me says:

        “I think the problem is that culturally men have been dominant for so long that any hint of criticism is presumed to be hatred, when it’s simply criticism – often valid”

        Nailed it!

      • strawberry says:


    • Sofia says:

      That’s exactly why I think most 20-25 y.o women think of feminism as an anti-men movement. Many of us born in the 90′s grew up among women standing for feminism in an aggressive manner. If you contextualized, it’s understandable, but as a kid I got that message (feminism as hate culture). While in highscool I made my research and got it right; something that evidently many women my age should have done.

  22. feebee says:

    It’s funny that her movie is with Mark Ruffalo because when Woodley made her dumbass comments (posted here yesterday?) the first person I thought of sending in was Mark Ruffalo. But Keira will do fine. I mean it’s not that I give a hoot really about Ms Woodley, like I couldn’t give a cr@p about Jenny McCarthy but like JMc when they start spouting stuff that can potentially damage a cause (or a nation’s health) then we need to say, hey, there are some things you need to know or realize. Because in Woodley’s cause she’s just flat out, absolutely, wrong.

    But in the meantime, a thank you to Keira for getting it, because she does pretty consistently…. as I think of the minor fuss she made over her digitally enhanced boobs for one of the Pirates movie posters.

    • frisbeejada says:

      I seem to remember it was for a film about King Arthur with Clive Owen, and here in the UK she was very vocal about her boobs being enlarged on the posters – and that was a few years ago now so I think she’s always been reasonably aware…

    • Lilacflowers says:

      The fuss was about the digital enlargement for King Arthur. For the first Pirates movie, she jokes on the commentary about how the corset she had to wear pressed her boobs up and together uncomfortably but made them look much larger than they were. She laughs about it.

  23. Rebecca Olson says:

    Finally, a young female star who understands the word and the situation! Everybody should be a feminist, man and woman.

  24. LAK says:

    I am baffled when the Shaileys of this world are dismissed with the excuse they they haven’t educated themselves on feminism and that’s why they sprout their ignorant views.

    They shouldn’t need to be educated on it or have to read books about it. It’s as basic a right as any right that promotes a harmonious society. No one should be sent off to some special study course to understand that people ,irrespective of gender, are equal.

    In the case of a Shailey of the world, who is wilfully ignorant about what feminism means, a week or day spent in places without feminism should be education enough.

    In her case, she doesn’t believe in reading so what’s a truck load of books on the subject going to do?

    Feminism shouldn’t ne treated as some specialist subject that other people need to understand. We are born equal, live our lives equal, and die equal. End of.

    Now if a person wishes to specialise in gender studies, that’s up to them and Kudos all the way, but it shouldn’t require that the man on the street, whatever their level of education or reading ability, be acquainted with gender studies in order to understand that very basic concept.

  25. coco says:

    Her statement on feminism is exactly on point, feminism at a basic level. Why couldn’t any other actress say this? What is with all the hemming and hawing, obtuse statements that we’ve been seeing lately?

    I suspected it was because they are out of the blue-collar work force, that they are so out of touch with reality that they can’t see the inequality in their daily lives (e.g., promotions, raises, etc.). But, as Keira alludes, it should be just as apparent to actresses when there is a minority of strong female leads and stories being told in the movies.

    • Mandy says:

      You don’t think it is slightly classist to suggest that people from “blue-collar” backgrounds are out of touch with the “inequality of their daily lives”? I am quite certain that the women I interact with from working class economic situations are fully and intimately aware of the challenges they are countered with. Perhaps they just don’t identify with certain strands of “intellectual” and elitist feminism that talks down to them the way you just did. I do consider myself a feminist of sorts but think there is still much progress to be made in what the identified goals and approach of the movement should be. I would argue that belittling the less fortunate should not be one of them.

      • coco says:

        That is the opposite of what I said. I used the pronoun ‘they’ to refer to celebrities. Apologies for not being more clear.

      • RosettaStoned says:

        She was saying that actors are OUT of the blue-collar work force, and thus out of touch with reality…. read the sentence again. You completely misunderstood.

      • Mandy says:

        Thanks for clarifying. Apologies for the misunderstanding, I read “out of the blue collar workforce” to mean the people or actresses making these statements were from a blue collar background. We are in agreeance then!

  26. joan says:

    Maybe this very simple, basic definition will help some of the starlets who’ve been embarrassing themselves about the meaning of feminism.

    Why do they bother to comment when they’re so ignorant?

  27. Amy says:

    Out of curiosity, what does feminism mean to everyone here? Many celeb women are torn to pieces here for “misunderstanding” what feminism is but honestly I get more confused when everyone says “That’s not feminism” but then does little to elaborate what they think feminism is which accomplishes absolutely nothing for feminism either. So I’m curious: what do you think feminism is to you? I don’t care so much about the standard definition (equality for women which is vague in itself).

    • miriam says:

      You know, I’m beginning to suspect that one of the reasons so many of these young female celebrities trip up on the concept of feminism is because they have a lot of men in their careers structuring their lives. Perhaps it has become inherent in their surroundings that the men must be kept mollified.

      But then again, I think I may actually know more women that turn their noses up at feminism than men. There are so many women these days that are starting to consider feminism as anti-women as well as anti-men.

      • wolfpup says:

        Upon accepting her presidency of the National Organization of Women in 1970, A. Hernandez said, “…we ask only that those who join NOW commit themselves to work for full equality for women, and that they do so in the context that the struggle in which we are engaged is part of the total struggle to free all persons to develop their full humanity.”

        Analysing male domination or female subordination is a part of this process. I was a Women’s Study major in a university, because I wanted to understand male violence issues in my own life. The material was challenging, and there were times when I felt terribly betrayed by my culture. Does anyone else remember the term “consciousness raising”?

  28. jane16 says:

    Kaiser, very well written post.

  29. serena says:

    Super boring photoshoot.

  30. cc says:

    Love her