Keira-Knightley-14

There are heroes in Hollywood who take a hit for speaking out. There aren’t many of them. There aren’t enough of them but those who do are helping others to feel more comfortable. The dangerous movement of actresses who distant themselves from the word “feminist” makes women feel continual shame for standing up for what really can be defined as equal rights. I understand why some of them do this – some don’t like the label, some don’t want to be thought of as militant, some have misinterpreted the word for being a man-hater or wanting to take over power from men, to remove men from their dominance in film or whatever. The complaints against some kind of activism is valid – just because someone calls themselves a feminist does not mean they have to agree with everyone’s definition of it. Its baseline, though, is important: women standing up for women.

Hey, if there wasn’t a problem we could all STFU but across the board women have been getting the shaft since the word feminism was mostly deflated of its power. Count Keira Knightley on the team of heroes when she spoke out plainly and directly on the problem on Style.com:

“Where are the female stories? Where are they? Where are the directors, where are the writers? It’s imbalanced, so given that we are half the cinema-going public, we are half the people [who] watch drama or watch anything else, where is that? So yes, I think the pay is a huge thing, but I’m actually more concerned over the lack of our voices being heard. I don’t know what happened through the ’80s,’90s, and ’00s that took feminism off the table, that made it something that women weren’t supposed to identify with and were supposed to be ashamed of. Feminism is about the fight for equality between the sexes, with equal respect, equal pay, and equal opportunity. At the moment we are still a long way off that.”

The answer does not lie with the bottom line, as we’ve proved with our analysis on box office data for the past 20 years. In fact, women are a very reliable demographic. It’s really not about the ticket buyers – it’s about the voices that control the chatter and what their preferences are. It’s about how industry voters are leaning in that direction too. It’s about a systematic weakening of what defines a woman in film. Its roots are deep and pulling them up is going to be painful.

The more women talk about it the better. As Jane Fonda says, Hollywood must be shamed into it. The only way that’s going to happen is if women stop being the “cool girls” for fear of alienating he who possesses the golden spear.

Keira Knightley is more than capable of having whole films built around her that are more than just princess stories or bodice rippers. Hopefully there will be brave people out there who will give her that chance.

Hat tip Indiewire

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  • Jo

    You guys, the pop up ads on your mobile site are out of control and I literally can’t get through an article without being redirected three times, FYI

  • phantom

    She has been always very vocal about feminism and women in film, I remember seeing this a few years ago :
    http://mic.com/articles/77907/7-reasons-keira-knightley-is-a-badass-feminist

  • Joseph

    ” I understand why some of them do this – some don’t like the label, some don’t want to be thought of as militant, some have misinterpreted the word for being a man-hater or wanting to take over power from men, to remove men from their dominance in film or whatever. The complaints against some kind of activism is valid – just because someone calls themselves a feminist does not mean they have to agree with everyone’s definition of it. Its baseline, though, is important: women standing up for women.”

    This, exactly. I think the problem is that, on the one hand, feminist groups like to believe that their view of feminism and their approach to equality is the ONLY way. This explains why some refuse the label. On the other hand, those that distance themselves do so to the point where they make feminism seem like a dangerous ideal. We need more balance. We need people to understand the differences between certain kinds of feminism, but also realize that at the core, as you say, all feminists want equality between the sexes. Some, like Gloria Steinem, believe that patriarchy has oppressed women, that women are victims of this oppression, and that they deserve to be freed from this oppression. Others, like Camille Paglia, understand that women deserve equal rights, but reject the notion of patriarchy and oppression, and believe that women and men are biologically different, which has resulted in differences between the sexes. Some believe that women’s bodies are objectified for the male gaze, whereas others believe that women use their bodies to assert their dominance. Some believe that women should “lean in,” whereas others think women should do whatever they want, even if that means be a housewife. The list of differences goes on and on.

    In my view, the only way to truly solve this issue is for people to learn about the various feminist movements. We tend to simplify things here in America, as if to say, feminism is only ONE thing. When people attacked Shailene Woodley for distancing herself from the word, rather than realize that she was simply distancing herself from a certain kind of feminism, they made it seem like she was anti-woman all together. We need to give the public the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they can comprehend the complexity of the terms and the movements.

    And women have to be at the center of this. In addition to standing up for their rights and reminding everyone that feminism isn’t a dirty word, they need to support ALL branches of feminism, or at least acknowledge that there are different approaches to equality, and not everyone will agree with their worldview. This means not slagging of Camille Paglia when she encourages young girls to take responsibility for their actions, or Madonna for showing her body at age 56. I’ve found that women are often the biggest critics of other women, and if there’s really going to be a change, it needs to start from within.

  • asdf

    Maybe its time to just shelve the “f; word for a while at least in north america/europe anyways. I mean third wave fems here really dont have much left to argue but petty and small things. Maybe they can take the fight to help prop up women in develpoing/ultra religious countries where they actually are oppressed and dont have a voice. If some women here choose they are comfortable where we are at as a society now and dont want to fight or be labelled. Thats their choice and feminists should just leave them alone as they are expressing their right to choose.

  • Ossutin

    Why do some people refuse to identify as feminist? The dictionary definition is all about equality of the sexes after all and what kind of bigot does not want that? Well the answer to that question is a big one, let’s refer it to some quotations from feminism’s most popular speakers.

    “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor

    “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas

    “Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” — Susan Brownmiller

    “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin

    And let’s not forget that attitudes like these are being translated into action and political policy every day. If you believe in equality of the sexes, you are not a feminist. Feminism is a supremacy movement.

  • Halero

    Attention Feminists!
    What don’t you understand?

    NO MEANS NO!

    To be honest, you’re getting a little rapey with this over-insistence on having women conform to your labels. Women are individuals with their own rights, liberties, opinions, likes and dislikes. Stop trying to control all of that and respect her choice.

    NO MEANS NO!

  • The Pope

    When Keira Knightly wonders “what happened through the ’80s,’90s, and ’00s that took feminism off the table”, the answer is reactionary conservatism. Susan Faludi wrote about it in “Backlash” as far back as 1991. And since then, with the rise of right-wing media such as Fox News, we not only have feminism (by which I mean equality) being drowned out, but all other movements seeking similar parity with white patriarchal wealth being drowned out also. So it’s not only about gender. It’s about race and it’s about wealth. That the word feminist has been demonised and indeed, continues to be so by female news “personalities” is not an indictment on feminism but rather a revelation that we still need to speak truth to power. It comes down to this simple equation. Society will never realise its full potential when those in power insists it be run on only half an engine. Think of the speed at which we could operate if women could contribute as much as they were able. The same goes for race and ethnicity.

  • The Pope

    Apologies for the typo:
    Think of the speed at which we could operate if women could contribute as much as they “were” able.

  • The Pope, (typo fixed)

    Thank you for sharing your cogent thoughts on this.

    It was demoralizing to see 3 trolls in row swarm onto this page spewing their clumsy claptrap. If those 3 comments from asdf, Ossutin and Halero had not been such obvious wingnut rhetoric, I would have tried to argue them down. But it’s clear those guys are already trembling in fear at the prospect of looking women directly in the eye. So it’s more instructive to let those comments hang there in blustery ignorance to serve as their own indictment.

    Makes me proud of the Awards Daily community to see one of our most esteemed readers glide in with observations of grace and substance.

  • Halero and Ossutin, the reason you two sound alike is because you’re both the same person. Try this: Be a man, pick one ID, so we can all see who’s signing off on your brand of bullshit.

  • The Pope,

    Thanks, too, for name-dropping Backlash. I’m lucky to have gone to colleges where writers like Susan Faludi and Molly Haskell were fixtures of the curriculum.

    The reasons why some women think feminism is a dirty word are as simple and complex as the reasons why some women vote for Republican men who do nothing for women but try to beat them down. It’s a matter of upbringing for little girls, it’s lack of education for young women, and I hate to say, but for grown women it’s willful ignorance.

  • lily

    I love Keira. She’s so cool. She’s a young actress who’s always spoken intelligently about this subject and never seemed confused about the definition of feminism- maybe British actresses like her and Emma Watson have a better handle on this for some reason. They probably didn’t grow up being taught that it was a bad thing over there.

  • Feminism is a supremacy movement.

    No, you’re an idiot. The movement is for equal rights, which include the right of women to be able to express whatever opinions they wish. The female supremacists are dangerous, but they’re actually less dangerous than the male supremacists, since those men actually already have the power to exact their supposed supremacy upon women, and indeed they so act and have done for centuries.

    Attention Feminists!
    What don’t you understand?

    NO MEANS NO!

    No to what? No to the notion of equality? Fine then, protest all you fucking like, you callous bigot. You’ll see exactly what no means as the decades pass by and you and your opinions get trodden into the dirt where you belong. You’re already a relic, might as well get used to it.

    To be honest, you’re getting a little rapey with this over-insistence on having women conform to your labels. Women are individuals with their own rights, liberties, opinions, likes and dislikes. Stop trying to control all of that and respect her choice.

    NO MEANS NO!

    The only person here insisting on women conforming to anything at all is you, with your aggressive comments targeted directly at women in a blatant attempt to alter their thoughts, opinions and actions. But the truth is: Feminism is not a label, it’s a natural feature of humanity. We are all equal. Feminism is the recognition of that inherent human truth.

    The only labels here ought to be applied to the people who choose to disregard and pretend to be able to override that human truth, the people who oppose equality or who cower in fear of it. And I can think of more four-letter labels to slap on your idiotic asses than the number of asses I’d have to slap.

  • Ryan C. Showers

    First of all, go Keira for her strong and honest statements. She rocks.

    Ossutin, feminism is not a female supremacy movement. If you believe feminism is involved in any of those quotes, then you’re wrong, and you’re buying the skewed version of the word that straight white men want everyone to believe in order for them to maintain their supremacy. Feminism is not misandry, and those two words are not synonymous, dude.

  • phantom

    Urgh, not the trolls again…aren’t they supposed to go on a break off-season or something ? It makes me angry that there are people out there who can still argue against equal rights for women in this day and age…and it makes me sad that in this day and age shockingly enough, equal rights for women is still an unresolved issue.

  • Ryan C. Showers

    Of all the places online to degrade the actual meaning of feminism and women’s representation in film, why would anyone choose Awards Daily? Like…really?

  • Marshall Flores

    Would have ripped into Ossutin/Halero myself for spewing such ignorant, mansplaining bullshit, but I’m glad to see Ryan, Paddy, et al. pick up that torch immediately.

    Kudos to Keira. Feminism is not a fucking four-letter taboo.

  • Steven Kane

    I expected the trolls today, not a few days early. Happy April Fools Day, bitches!

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