Meghan Markle Proves Why We Can’t Afford to Question Women Anymore
It’s been almost three years since Meghan Markle officially became a member of the Royal Family. Three years that she describes as “unsurvivable.” Three years of smiling and waving and pretending it was all okay.
When I watched Oprah interview Meghan Markle, I watched a woman who was finally breathing a sigh of relief. There on camera, while the world watched, we finally got to hear her side of the story.
And her side of the story should make us take a long, hard look at ourselves.
For years, we have read and bought into headlines like:
- “Why Can’t Meghan Markle Keep Her Hands Off Her Baby Bump?”
- “Royal Wedding: How Meghan Markle’s flowers may have put Princess Charlotte’s life at risk.”
- “Meghan Markle Slammed for Putting Her Hands in Pockets.”
If we’re honest, many of us have been or know people who believed that Meghan was the problem. You may have heard or said comments such as:
- “There’s just something about her.”
- “She seems like a troublemaker.”
- “She’s an actress. She’s spoiled.”
I know I have heard these things. There were no excuses for them then. But after last night, it’s beyond unacceptable now. Is this what it takes for us to believe? Does it take a woman confessing her suicidal thoughts on national television?
And even then, there will still be some who question and doubt her.
I’m not here to convince you that she’s a victim. I’m here to call out all the ways we failed her by not believing her in the first place.
We need to believe women when they ask for help.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” Prince Harry told Oprah.
We all know what this means. Princess Diana was arranged into a marriage with a man who was blatantly in love with another woman. She suffered from bulimia and tried to self-harm with razor blades. She even attempted suicide while pregnant with Prince William.
“When no one listens to you, or you feel no one’s listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen,” Diana said.
Now, over thirty years later, history was in fact repeating itself. Meghan expressed to Oprah how severe her loneliness was. And, ultimately, that she was having suicidal thoughts.
The difference? When Meghan shared her struggle, Harry listened and intervened.
When it comes to women’s mental health, the world is reluctant to trust them. Modern medicine has catered to men. And now, women are often misdiagnosed or even dismissed because of how behind our healthcare system is on women’s bodies.
It’s in our culture to deny women’s knowledge of their own bodies. But, in this case, because Meghan was able to find someone who did believe her, it may have saved her life.
We need to believe in women over institutions.
Why is it that we are so quick to believe systems over women? Christine Blasey Ford. Anita Hill. Gretchen Carlson. Tarana Burke. These are all women who have risked their lives and their careers and their reputations to come up against power.
And every time, they have been told in one form or another to sit down and stay quiet.
Why are we so quick to believe in the words of an established, fully-funded machine over the words of the small voice in the crowd? We live for this in movies. We root for the underdogs. We point out the injustice. But when it comes to reality, the world does not trust women and their voices.
Oprah asks Meghan, “Were you silent or were you silenced?” Meghan responds, “The latter.”
Even when she wasn’t allowed to have a voice, the world wasn’t looking for her side of things. Because “there’s just something about her.” Or “she just seems spoiled.” We didn’t know her, but we accepted what we were told of her.
We can’t afford to accept the narratives of women anymore that are not spoken directly from their own mouths. We can’t trust institutions over humans. Over women suffering at their hand.
We need to believe women when they tell us who they are, not when tabloids do.
There are two sides to every story. There’s also money in every story. And damn does the media love to paint a hero and a villain for you. Especially when it’s pitting women against other women.
“If you love me, you don’t have to hate her. And if you love her, you don’t have to hate me,” Meghan comments of the Kate vs. Meghan narrative.
She goes on to say that the media “really seem to want a narrative of a hero and a villain.” After Meghan’s interview last night, I’m sure the world will still cling to this dichotomy. But now? Meghan will be the hero and Kate will be the villain.
Don’t let a headline or a “source” define a woman for you.
The truth is that most of us will never know these women personally. So, why are we so quick to assassinate them? Why are we so ready to believe the worst about them? Let them tell you who they are. And even then, it’s most likely just a piece of their very multi-faceted selves.
It is time to support Meghan Markle.
In her interview with Oprah, Meghan Markle showed us how brave women can be. In the words of Glennon Doyle, “She’s a goddamned cheetah.” (Read Untamed and you’ll get that reference.)
We need to rally behind Meghan Markle because she’s a woman stepping out into a truth. She’s a black woman coming up against a very white, racist regime. She’s an American woman bringing truth to a monarchy. She’s a young woman shedding light on mental health struggles. She’s a mom. She’s a woman. She’s a freaking human.
Believe women. It’s time.