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Keira Knightley arrives at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles.
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Girls & Women

Keira Knightley Pens Powerful Essay on Motherhood and Gender Inequality in the Workplace


Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Women face discrimination at work, especially when they’re mothers. Essays like Keira Knightley’s remind us gender equality is a widespread concern. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Keira Knightley has had it with gender inequality.

And the Academy Award-nominated actress just penned an essay titled "The Weaker Sex" explaining why. She graphically addresses the realities of childbirth and shares her personal experience with gender discrimination in the workplace.

Knightley’s piece is part of the essay collection Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), released earlier this month and curated by Scarlett Curtis, the writer, and co-founder of the Pink Protest, a community of activists who founded the #FreePeriods campaign. Actors Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan also contributed to the book.

Take Action: How much do you know about women in the workforce?

Refinery29 published excerpts from Knightley’s powerful essay, which she dedicated to her daughter, on Friday. 

"I turn up on time, word perfect, with ideas and an opinion. I am up with you [her daughter] all night if you need me. Sometimes I cry I'm so tired. Up with you all night and work all day ... My male colleagues can be late, can not know their lines. They can shout and scream and throw things. They can turn up drunk or not turn up at all. They don't see their children. They're working. They need to concentrate," she writes about the different gender expectations set for parents when they get back to work after having children. 

Read More: Gender Inequality Could Be Costing the World $160 Trillion

Knightley has a point. A 2018 study found paternity leave is only the beginning of closing the gender wage gap, and mothers are still held to high, unfair standards. 

The British actress notes the pressure on women to dive right back into their careers after labor. She mentions Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, who made a public appearance shortly after giving birth.

"Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful. Look stylish, don't show your battleground, Kate. Seven hours after your fight with life and death, seven hours after your body breaks open, and bloody, screaming life comes out. Don't show. Don't tell. Stand there with your girl and be shot by a pack of male photographers,” Knightley writes

The high-profile celebrity, who has criticized how women are portrayed on screen in the past, details feeling shut down by men on film sets. 

“They belittle me, they try not to listen to me, they don't talk to me, they don't want to hear my voice, my experience, my opinion,” she says

Read More: 10 Powerful Quotes on Motherhood From Famous Moms

In the essay, Knightley goes on to mention how people police women’s appearances and try to put a limit on their success. 

"I work with men and they worry that I don't like them. It makes them mad, it makes them sad, it makes them shout and scream. I like them. But I don't want to flirt and mother them ... I don't want to flirt with you because I don't want to fuck you, and I don't want to mother you because I am not your mother."