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Keira Knightley says feminism has 'a long way to go' in response to criticism of Kate Middleton childbirth essay

Keira Knightley has responded to criticism of an essay she wrote on childbirth, stating that the backlash proves the feminist movement has "a long way to go".

In an essay published in feminist collection Feminists Don't Wear Pink (And Other Lies), the actress, 33, wrote of what she felt were unrealistic standards placed on Kate Middleton in the hours after giving birth.

Ms Knightley compared the duchess's post-labour experience to her own as her daughter, Edie, 3, was reportedly born just a day before Princess Charlotte.

"She was out of hospital seven hours later with her face made up and high heels on," Ms Knightley's essay read.

"The face the world wants to see. Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging.

"Look beautiful, look stylish, don't show your battleground, Kate."

The Pirates of the Caribbean star had faced backlash since writing the piece, and had been accused of attacking the Duchess of Cambridge.

When asked about the public's response to her words, she said, "That essay is about childbirth, it's about motherhood and it's about complete empathy with every other woman that has been through the extremity of labor.

"It's also about my sudden realisation that what our culture asks us to do is to hide our truths and to silence our experiences. So it is exactly the opposite of what certain media has reported it to be."

Speaking on what the response means for modern feminism, she added:

"I think that just shows as far as the feminist movement goes, we have a long way to go. And it can be seen actually – that's what the essay is about – and it can be seen in the reporting of it."