As she’s starring in a movie about 1970 feminists, Keira Knightley has a chance to speak up about some of the inequalities women, and especially mothers, are still facing 50 years later. Wow, that was a depressing sentence to write, but like Knightley, we’ll take any chance we’ve got to talk about society’s prevailing double standards when it comes to mothers and fathers.
“It’s really rare to see a guy at a children’s [daycare], and if he is, people say, ‘Ooh, what a lovely dad. Look at him looking after his own children,'” Knightley told Hello Giggles while promoting her new movie, Misbehaviour, about a group of women protesting the Miss World contest. “You would never say that to a woman.”
This is a truth that drives us up the wall too. And even during the pandemic, surveys have shown that men and women aren’t sharing childcare duties equally, even when they’re both working from home. A survey conducted for the New York Times showed that though 76 percent of men reported that they were doing more (24 percent) or an equal amount (52 percent) of the childcare as their partners, 66 percent of women said that they were doing more childcare, and 25 percent said it was equal. You’ll notice that those numbers do not add up. That inequality was worse before the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics time-use survey, in 2019 women spent an average of 1.78 hours a day primarily taking care of household children, while men spent only .9 hours doing so.
— Misbehaviour (@MisbehaviourUK) March 1, 2020
“Why do we not expect a working man to be looking after their children as much as their partner is?” Knightley wondered. And rather than praising men for showing up at daycare once in a while, she said, “We really need to start asking men about what their role within the childcare situation is, how much of that they take on, and expect them to take on that responsibility. We expect women to take on that responsibility, and yet for some reason, we give men a free pass.”
Knightley, who shares 5-year-old daughter Edie and 1-year-old Delilah with husband James Righton, has spoken out about gender roles in childcare in the past.
“I think I’ve become unbelievably aware of that and of how lucky I’ve been to be able to afford really good childcare, because otherwise it would be at least four years out of my career,” she told Harper’s Bazaar UK in 2016.
“I wouldn’t be able to get back to where I had been if I’d taken four years out. I think that’s the same for most women. … I also think paternity leave should be the same as maternity leave. It’s shocking. Because you need that option. And actually, when you’re thinking about an employer looking at a man and a woman, and they’re looking at the woman thinking, ‘Well, at some point, you could take nine months or however long off, and the guy doesn’t have to.’ Don’t tell me that that doesn’t come into it! You need to be a family unit, not just have the guy there for two weeks and then go back to work and the mother left desperately trying to figure it out. I think it’s archaic that there aren’t better options.”
From your lips to voters’ and legislators’ ears, Keira!
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