Meghan Markle’s Portrayal in Media Represents Absence of Intersectional Feminism

Meghan Markle’s Portrayal in Media Represents Absence of Intersectional Feminism

WRITTEN BY Emma Coffey

In a recent and groundbreaking interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle shocked the world with her story on her time spent in the Royal Family. Markle covered many significant issues that occurred in the monarchy, ranging from racism to mental health.

Markle is no stranger to criticism; she was attacked by the British media since the beginning of her marriage to Prince Harry, to the point where she was having suicidal thoughts while she was pregnant. After their decision to leave the family, that criticism was intensified, especially by the British tabloids.

One of the most important details from the interview to take note of is the racism that she experienced. She described how someone inside the family, who will not be named, had been concerned about Archie, her first child, and his skin color.

“There were also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born,” Markle said. 

This statement left a surprising impact on the world; U.S. and UK citizens were shocked. The media shared diverse opinions on the subject after the interview was released. However, the way Markle was treated during her time as a royal was shown by the media from the beginning.

It is critical to study how Markle was treated by the media in her early years in comparison to Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife. Middleton was praised and accepted by society, while Markle was torn down for doing some of the exact same things.

For example, Daily Mail posted two articles on both women about one year apart. 

The headline about Middleton reads, “Bumping along nicely! The Duchess was seen placing a protective hand on her tummy as she exited the event,” Daily Mail: March 22, 2018.

The article on Markle posted one year later about the exact same subject reads, “Personally, I find the cradling a bit like those signs in the back of cars: Baby on Board. Virtue signaling, as though the rest of us barren harridans deserve to burn alive in our cars,” Daily Mail: Jan. 26, 2019.

This is a key illustration of how differently Markle was treated in comparison to Middleton. The media sees Markle holding her baby bump as a threat, while Middleton is praised for doing the same act. Another key example of this issue is in relation to both women’s bridal bouquets, and their choice of flowers. 

The article describing the lily of the valley in Middleton’s bouquet says:

“She is evidently well-versed in the language of flowers, a little-known romantic relic from the 19th century … the lily of the valley meaning a return of happiness …” Express: Aug. 29, 2011.

On the contrary, the article describing the lily of the valley in Markle’s bouquet says:

“Lily of the valley is a highly poisonous woodland flowering plant and ingestion could be deadly … As Meghan’s bridesmaids were so young, having this flower on their heads could be considered a dangerous decision.” Express: Oct. 13, 2019

Middleton was coined as being knowledgeable about flowers by the media while they also described that the lily of the valley has good intentions behind it. However, Markle used the same flower, and she was attacked by the media because the flower is supposedly a danger.

When Markle wanted protection from the media and for the monarchy to stand up for her like they did for Middleton, she confronted the family and described to Oprah her feelings about the conversation.  

“Kate was called ‘Waity Katie’ waiting to marry William. While I imagine that was really hard — and I do, I can’t picture what that felt like — this is not the same. And if a member of his family will comfortably say, ‘We’ve all had to deal with things that are rude,’ rude and racist are not the same,” Markle said.

Intersectional feminism takes account of all women, including every race. The way that Markle is treated in comparison to Middleton by the media represents a lack of intersectionality. Markle’s situation demonstrates how Black women and white women are treated differently for doing the same things.

“It was all happening just because I was breathing,” Markle said.

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