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Why Keira Knightley's comments on feminism couldn't have come at a better time

Ahead of International Women’s Day the actress aired her views on feeling 'constrained' by her breakout role

keira knightley© Photo: Getty Images
Orin Carlin
Content Writer
Updated: March 8, 2023
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International Women's Day has been celebrated for over a century, and yet its key message is still utterly relevant in 2023.

Marking the social, economic, political and cultural advancements made by women, March 8th reminds us that while strides have been made, we are still a long way off gender equality.

Actress Keira Knightley is the latest celebrity to weigh in on the subject of feminism. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, the Love Actually star opened up about feeling stifled by early roles, including her breakout part as love interest Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

"She was the object of everybody’s lust," Keira said. "Not that she doesn’t have a lot of fight in her. But it was interesting coming from being really tomboyish to getting projected as quite the opposite. I felt very constrained. I felt very stuck."

MORE: The 12 best influencers to follow for female empowerment this International Women's Day

READ: Why International Women's Day still matters according to 13 powerful women in fashion

Keira Knightley IWD© Photo: Getty Images

The actress spoke about feeling "constrained" by her breakout role 

That feeling of powerlessness was exacerbated by a series of hit films that she starred in between 2003 and 2005. Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice and Atonement left her feeling trapped, but also confused. "I didn’t have a sense of how to articulate it," she revealed. "It very much felt like I was caged in a thing I didn’t understand."

Keira went on to express her frustration with the social narrative that surrounds female ageing. "Change is always tricky. We’re taught that it’s bad. We’re taught that we don’t want grey hair," she said.

MORE: 30 Feminist quotes to inspire you this International Women's Day

"You’ve got Madonna on the one hand – and we’re told that’s not the right thing. Then you have someone else, where we’re told, 'They looked better 20 years ago'. How are we, culturally, meant to age?"

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Much of the discourse around Madonna's "unrecognisable" face is appallingly sexist, not to mention ageist – and the Queen of Pop is having none of it. "Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in," Madonna wrote on Instagram. "A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45 and feels the need to punish her if she continues to be strong willed, hard-working and adventurous."

Well, quite. And we are pleased to see Keira publicly acknowledging the unfairness to which women in the public eye are constantly subjected. Not that we were in any doubt, but clearly International Women’s Day is still very much needed in 2023.

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