Keira Knightley: ‘Internalised misogyny? I’m not criticizing that’

Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards

I’ve said this a lot over the past year, but I love Nu Keira Knightley. Remember how grumpy she used to be? Her vibe was all about cheekbones and angst. Motherhood changed her for the better, plus I think she just grew up – her 20s were a dumpster fire, but she’s really feeling herself in her 30s. Well, Keira is still promoting various films – The Nutcracker, Colette, and The Aftermath – so she sat down with The Guardian (you can read the full piece here). The conversation was mostly about feminism, motherhood and how people overreacted to her talking about how she banned Cinderella and The Little Mermaid in her house. Some highlights:

She wanted to be a boy when she was little: At 11, she was “obsessed by The Godfather. I wanted to be Al Pacino and that’s where I was heading. The great parts are the guys’ parts. You don’t want to be the pretty girl in the corner or the mum being lovable and supportive. Of course, when you grow up you are, but you still want to have the adventures.”

The through-line for her roles: She’s drawn to stories about “the masculine side of the female, stuck in the dresses and makeup. Almost every character I’ve played has tried to break out of that image of femininity. That’s why I like period films, because it’s such an overt cage you put the woman in. That’s always something I’ve really identified with. I feel like I sit somewhere else. I’ve never wanted a pen1s. Apart from to piss up a tree. Being able to do that standing up: so convenient. You can just whip it out and whatever. But the idea of something so vulnerable swinging between my legs, I think I’m all right without.”

Her disses of several Disney princesses: “I thought I was just being perky in an interview. My God, people feel really strongly. Don’t f–k with Cinderella. Her fans will end you.”

Her essay about the Duchess of Cambridge’s childbirths: “The whole essay was about the silencing of women’s experience. So it’s interesting that’s exactly what happened from certain media outlets. They turned a moment of empathy from one body to another around to say: she’s shaming her.” Yet women seemed just as mean as men. “Yeah, that’s interesting. Internalised misogyny? I’m not criticising that. All of us respond to and survive within the culture in the way that we can. But I think we need to have a big look at ourselves.”

The male experience is so explored: “We all empathise with men hugely because, culturally, their experience is so explored. We know so many aspects of even male sexuality. But we don’t feel like men can say: ‘Yes, I understand what you’re talking about because I’ve got this wealth of art and film and theatre and TV from your point of view.’”

Motherhood, childcare & mental health: She read recently that 50% of new mothers have mental health difficulties. “With children, it’s one in 10 and that’s called a crisis. So what’s one in two? That’s a f–king catastrophe. We have to talk about it so we know we haven’t failed. It’s really difficult for me, who has an unbelievably supportive family and the money to pay for good childcare. How, as a society, are we not supporting single mothers 100%? We should literally be wrapping them in cotton wool and giving them a cuddle. Saying absolutely we will help [them] as much as we possibly can. That we’re not seems insane.”

[From The Guardian]

I love that she’s talking about all of this, actually. I think this is the root of so many problems too: “We all empathise with men hugely because, culturally, their experience is so explored.” That’s is BEYOND true. We empathize and sympathize with men – specifically white men – because their experiences, actions, thoughts and feelings receive oversaturated coverage in art AND news. White men are given humanity at every level, while other people just… aren’t. I also enjoy what she says about not criticizing internalized misogyny, although…to be fair, I think she would and will criticize it, just not in this particular case.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Screening

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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22 Responses to “Keira Knightley: ‘Internalised misogyny? I’m not criticizing that’”

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  1. Sojaschnitzel says:

    “How, as a society, are we not supporting single mothers 100%? We should literally be wrapping them in cotton wool and giving them a cuddle.”

    Full yes from me. I hate children (yes, I said it. Deal with it) and anything related to pregnancy and motherhood, and I have mad respect for any woman going through it. It’s an insanely challenging experience and we should give mothers all the support we can. I wouldn’t be able to raise a child. I am too much of a selfish coward, so I applaud them.

    • minime says:

      This pregnant woman here just loves how candid you are! It should be OK to say what we think and how we feel and to not correspond to the expectations that society impose to women. That is a huge step that our society is still needing: changing expectations and accepting different opinions and life objectives of women as they respect it when it comes from a man.

      I like what she says and I also think that we should give mothers and especially single mothers all the support possible!

    • Slowsnow says:

      Candid question (and not at all shocked by your comment, just burning to ask you a question if you put it out there): you were once a child so it confuses me when people say they “hate children”.
      I understand not feeling inclined to deal with children because you don’t like to play or do not know how to speak to someone who is still in development but hating children I find… how can I put it? Head scratching?
      I am not a lover of kids either, I have four and sometimes wonder how amazing they are when I see other kids that I don’t… love let’s say.
      But kids are usually a reflection of the education parents give them so I am tempted to say you don’t like people?
      I dunno – I mean no offense. I am trying to understand your statement that always came off as bizarre to me (I have two friends with the same inclination (away from kids) as you).
      I also commend you for your sincerity. I love my two children-hating friends (who actually love my kids, funnily enough, as exceptions) – and no one should be offended by you saying what is a personal inclination of yours that, to top it all, stupid people find “unfeminine”. So please sister, say your truth. Just curious about it, that’s all.

      • bebe says:

        I hate children too, actually. But, thanks to your comment. I’m realizing that I suppose what I actually “hate” is the way many parents think the world revolves around their kids? And that you are evil monster if/when you don’t find their little ones endearing/cute/etc. Thanks for the food for though, honestly.

        (I’m actually pregnant, so I’m hoping that I will love my baby; quite of a few of my friends cannot stand other people’s kids, but adore their own. Biology?)

      • Slowsnow says:

        Thanks @bebe!
        So nice to have chats when people are opening up.

        I am not a kids person either as you probably noticed.
        I have had moments when my kids reflected certain societal constructs where I was not their biggest fan.
        But all in all they have been raised by people I love – their dad, my parents, myself (yes, like Leslie Knope I will ackowledge my own self-love) and friends and they become part of your universe.
        Also, an upside, when they do, they also educate you as much as you educate them – good music, more radical thinking that you sometimes allow yourself, poetic enchantment and so on. (But I am probably also reflecting my own favorite things here and you will have your own).

      • Misa says:

        Children are people. Would you say you hate elderly people? I don’t know, one thing is not to have desire for becoming a mother/father, or for getting pregnant, I totally understand and respect that. But saying “I hate children”, or describing children as if they belonged to a different species? It gives me the creeps.

      • Diana says:

        You know, slow slow, I’ve sort of always felt the same (silent bewilderment when people say they don’t like kids, because kids are just people! Little individuals just like the big individuals adults hang out with all the time!) but the other day, I finally got it. My mother in law and my partner took me to see my partner’s best friend’s newborn baby, and as I saw the overjoyed expression on my mother in law’s face as she held this tiny being, I felt an absolute roiling emotion of rejection. I felt no tenderness towards the baby at all! Just a desire to run far away…

      • Grey says:

        I don’t hate children.

        There are a few I Iike more – and find my friendships with more rewarding – than their than their parents! There was one friend I had – we’d get wild togtether, and her 9yr old daughter and I became pen-pals who corresponded for years about drawing, poetry, art films, animals, fashion, the pros and cons of introversion, and god. Her mother and I were more into drinking way too many martinis, viciously gossiping, and picking up younger guys to tease!

        But I am indifferent to most children (I’m indifferent to most adults as well!), I would never have a child, and I hate child “culture” so i am accused of hating children.

    • Lolamd says:

      Love your honesty! Was talking to another Mom last night about how we need to be more open about our experiences with wanting or not wanting children, postpartum depression, etc.

    • A.Key says:

      Sojaschnitzel, 100% agree, I feel the exact same way.
      I am really happy and thankful I live in an era and a country where as a woman I am free to choose a life without children or marriage. If I had been born a century earlier (or lets face it, in any strict Muslim country today) I’d probably have gone mentally insane.

  2. Case says:

    I really like Keira. She seems to be intelligent, a wonderful interview, and talented. And she’s the only person to have not yet disappointed me from the Pirates franchise, which at this point wins her a whole lot of bonus points.

  3. Slowsnow says:

    Totally see her point about knowing men’s perspective but I would like to add something to the conversation.
    I think we do know a lot about predatory or patriarchal men’s sexuality. The men who love Lolitas, the men who think that only women under 30 are beautiful, but we have not explored a lot of good men, men who are interested in something other than checking if we have cellulite and if we can be nice trophys. We have always been looking at men with power and power is a very very tricky thing to handle.
    Speaking of which, Knightley is handling hers very well if it is making her think of people who do not have her facilties and talk about them and praise them. Always liked her.

  4. J ferber says:

    Love her. Women and non-whites are objectified and seen through the eyes of the white, male view– filtered through their own needs, desires, conveniences and biases. The world is literally out of balance since all is skewed towards a white, male center. The Trump world-view is an extreme example of this tilt towards the white, male subject.

  5. SuzAlex says:

    Yep – she is consistently smart, enlightened and forward-thinking in her responses. And she is perfection in that white confection.

    • Otaku fairy... says:

      Yes. She seems to give good interviews. I’ve never experienced actually wishing to have been born male. If anything, looking at the world growing up and even just at the experiences of girls I’ve loved has made me even more glad that I’m not a guy. ( “M1SANDRE!!” ) Love most of what she says here and what was added.

  6. TLO says:

    To the people who are asking how you can “hate” children, I guess I’ll try to explain my thought process. I dislike children and being around children for a lot of reasons…

    -They tend to be loud and needy (sorry moms, even the best behaved ones have their moments). I can’t go to dinner and have a nice conversation with my sister when her children are there because the younger one needs help with everything and the older one is at the age where he thinks he can participate in adult conversations, when all he’s really doing is interrupting in a way she (not I) finds cute. So I just end up sitting and watching her fuss with her kids or pretending that whatever the older one said is funny.
    -They’re almost always in your way. Ever been to an aquarium or a zoo? Most of what I end up seeing is the backs of other people’s kids as they rudely stand in front of an exhibit. You can blame the parents if you want but at a museum where it’s mostly adults, I can actually see the art and not the back of someone’s kids head.
    -They’re messy. I dare you to argue with me on that one.
    -The thing I dislike most is how they seem to erase their parents identity. It’s like someone, let’s call her Stacy, has a kid and suddenly she’s no longer Stacy. She’s a Mom, capital M. All you’ll hear about from Stacy for the rest of her life is stuff about her kids and pictures of her kids and on and on. It gets old, honestly.

    So while I understand that I was a child and did all these things once, I still deeply dislike being around kids. I don’t hate all people though. In fact, I love people and I especially love the elderly. The behavior of kids just doesn’t fit with my personality and I’m not comfortable with them, the same way some people feel uncomfortable around dogs and would never ever want to own one.

    I hope I’m not offending anyone here, I’m just trying to explain my feelings to people who are questing how you can hate kids.

    • Sam says:

      I can honestly say that I love children, but your explanation really makes sense.

      Children are messy, needy and loud.

    • Betsy says:

      Asking sincerely: how short are you?

    • DeeDee says:

      I find it scary when people say they hate children… I think all women should have the right to have or not to have kids. However, kids have their rightful place in society. Just because they cannot express that for themselves doesn’t mean that we dehumanize them and pretend that they are not part of “people.” It’s ok not to love children but hating them because they happen to be around you seems a bit strong.

      Hate should be reserved for murderers, rapists, abusers, corrupt politicians etc.

      I find it wrong to hate any group of people and believe it means there are parts or yourself you need to explore…. not to find love but perhaps empathy.

      Also, we are doing a disservice to women and feminism when we go to extremes. First it’s criticizing women for being independent and not wanting families, then the pendulum swings all the way to the other side and it’s criticizing women for loving their children and motherhood.

      Who are we to decide for other women how they should be affected but major life events in their lives? They can decide for themselves the weight they will give to these events in their lives. Hating children and women who love them doesn’t make anyone more feminist than anyone else. It just clouds our judgement and makes us forget that we are fighting for equality. The right to choose who we want to be in this world and not be discriminated against. That also includes people of all ages, skin tones, cultural or religious beliefs.

  7. TLO says:

    @Betsy lmao I’m actually 5’9. I went to our local aquarium recently and quite a few of the exhibits are smaller tanks and I literally couldn’t see a thing because of the children plastered all over the front of every tank. They don’t seem to understand waiting their turn either, as they’ll just kind of push in front of you. Same thing for smaller exhibits at the zoo ( think of like the reptile room).

  8. kat says:

    I hated being a kid. I absolutely do not like children. I do not want children. What most hink is charming and cute is annoying and tedious to me. I am glad for friends and relatives who have kids but I have no inclination or regret at all… The most obnoxious response is “oh you should have a baby, you will change your mind!” Nope, none of your business and no thanks. The IUD is awesome.