Racism and Misogyny and the harassment of women of color
There is an uptick of negative Meghan Markle news popping up in what feels like an intentional smear from Buckingham Palace ahead of a rare interview with Oprah airing Friday, March 7th, with Harry and Meghan
Another round of racism and sexism arguing Meghan’s right to exist in her space.
As a woman, and a woman of color, she has earned success as an actress, and humanitarian. She is also married to Prince Harry, 6th in line to head of the British monarchy. A well known global figure, a celebrity solely based on his name.
The latest smear campaign from inside the palace accused Meghan of a 2018 “bullying” incident. It sounds like the antiquated cries of anti feminists and white supremacists who spent centuries calling women, especially women of color, too loud, too rude, too opinionated, and too nasty. Tap into it if you wish.
When I hear complaints so blatantly biased, and from a place of privilege and privacy, it’s hard to believe it. It’s timely nature must feel hurtful, and vengeful.
Harry and Meghan met on a blind date, and had a whirlwind romance. They kept it private for as long as possible. Meghan was not a typical choice for a senior member of the royal family. She was an American, and previously divorced.
Instead of celebrating their romance, the media immediately tried to end it. Stories that their romance was “too much, too quickly” started appearing in the news. Instead of photographing the couple looking adorable, the media angrily decried that Harry had been swayed and manipulated by an older woman. The media, especially in Britain showed disdain for Meghan, and used a racist stereotype of Meghan as a bewitching black woman preying on an innocent Harry.
Are we serious? I remembered saying out loud. Are we really doing this? It felt so horrible, so mean. The cruelty, and the inhumane judgement were unequivocally based in racism. Key words and phrases meant to divide and silence women of color started appearing in the press, and the voices of public opinion.
When Harry and Meghan announced their engagement, and gave an interview for the press, Meghan was immediately dismissed, “She talked too much.” The public wanted a Diana, quiet and submissive at first, and very, very white. The public couldn’t imagine a black woman, clearly excited about her engagement, talking over Harry.
The British media continued a negative campaign condemning Meghan. The negative press in Britain went overboard with comparisons of Meghan to Kate Middleton, wife of Harry’s older brother William.
News about Meghan was always negative, and news about Kate doing the same thing was always positive. It crossed the line into harassment, and tabloid lies. Jokes at her expense. Tabloid stories about her background as unbecoming of a princess meant solely to crush the dreams of a budding romance. Crush a woman of color.
The controversy was all blamed on Meghan, the weight of the British people, the monarchy, the press. When Meghan stepped out to complain, she was hated further for portraying herself a victim. She was damned and shamed solely for existing. No matter what she said, or did, she was portrayed a villain by the press, and the British and American people.
Harry assumed it was his own life to live. The British people don’t feel this way, in fact most of Brain and America disagree. Harry is a member of British monarchy, and as such is compelled to duty and service to his country. Duty and service meant his role within the monarchy was clearly defined whether or not it’s true or real. His role was defined for him the minute he was born a little brother. Harry’s own personal agency was never a part of it.
The British Monarchy’s ability to remain in power and popular to the British people has always been its ability to cast their role as a service, a duty to their country. A somewhat sad, but dutiful queen who wanted other things, another life, but duty fell upon. The monarchy exists within the void of the people’s will.
The only monarchy to survive World War I, they did so by portraying themselves an integral part of Britain. Demure and beholden to a divine lineage. They kept themselves a part of the culture through extreme privacy and loyalty, cut throat public relations, and a driven and ambitious marketing plan. They are known for their coldness, and insistence on proper protocol.
They desperately need you to curtsy, for how else would you know the difference between human and appointed by God. The protocol is all they have.
The British people can vote it all away, at any time. The people, and their wishes for the role of the queen are important. Harry was a part of that machine. The British people saw a far different romantic interest for Harry, a far more different future. They have not been silent about it.
Harry and Meghan had an elaborate, royal wedding. Harry and Meghan did what was expected. They were expected to plan a spectacular wedding for the people, a fairy tale for live television.
The media immediately negatively dissected the choice of including voices of color in the ceremony in the most racist of ways. The media reported surprise and shock by other members of the royal family. Suggesting Harry and Meghan went too off script for the people’s pleasure.
The clear and immediate racism against a black member of the clergy seemed so strange and bizarre, especially for anyone who was familiar with the Anglican church. I grew up in the Anglican church, and the priest in my church grew up Jewish. Diversity within this community was quite the norm.
Meghan is a woman of color, and she falsely believed it was her wedding. It wasn’t her wedding. It was the British people’s wedding. The British people had ideas, and when they envisioned Harry’s wedding, that wasn’t it.
The British people already decided Harry was going to be “the funny’’ one, the more defiant royal member in his relationship with the British people. He was going to take on a very little brother personality. Remember when he stuck his tongue out at the press when he was a toddler? That’s the Harry the British people wanted, defiant and willful, but they still wanted him to fall in line.
How disappointed Britain must feel when Harry grew up to be his own person, different from what the press wanted. In retribution, the press, and many people in Britain and America started attacking Meghan, blaming Meghan.
The media, and many people in Britain and America attacked Meghan as a social climber. Indeed the definition of social climber is one who marries outside their class system. In this case, Meghan was a social climber. Misogyny decided social climbing was a negative.
By making her the villain, and suggesting a social climber is an unjust and impure motive, at least in this case, depended on something ridiculous. The idea of Prince Harry as a victim.
Harry is a grown man over thirty, a veteran, a Prince, a husband and father. A world traveler. He seemed perfectly capable weeding out fake people. He’s been trained his whole life on how to live a private life within the palace machine, and with whom to share his trust.
The accusation seemed silly, and stupid. She was her own successful woman before she met Harry, she didn’t need him. It’s misogyny to imply a wickedness in social climbing, to eviscerate the woman as helpless and dependent.
Through a lens of feminism, Meghan’s character would be better described as Intelligent, goal oriented, ambitious. Through feminism we can begin to see the way women, especially women of color, are vilified through negative connotation. Words like “Social climber,” are only bad because we say it’s bad. Because we apply it negatively to Meghan. It’s not deserving of the shame and humiliation bestowed upon a person on the level Meghan’s endured.
She married outside of her social class, that’s technically what it means. It’s not positive or negative, but marrying outside your social class is incredibly difficult, statistically speaking.
George Washington married way outside of his social class, marrying way up. George was way beneath Martha’s status. Her father owned half of Virginia. When they married the press referred to Washington as intelligent and ambitious for being able to climb the social ladder of success.
It also takes a lot of strength to endure a public shaming, regularly. Especially so undeserved. She’s just a woman, a human being, someone’s mother, someone’s wife, someone’s daughter. It’s a tremendous stain to keep caring about Meghan’s love for Harry, or Harry’s love for Meghan, That’s their business, anyway.
She seems like a lovely woman with a pretty smile. She seems passionate about her causes, especially wellness. She eats clean, I’ve read. She is smart, and funny. The paparazzi photos of her with Archie were adorable. She seems perfectly perfect in every way.
Harry and Meghan left the royal family, announcing last year a step down in their duties as senior members of the royal family. A move speculated to be more about harassment from the press, but it’s hard to know for sure. I don’t blame them. The attack on Meghan was visceral, and raw, and very reminiscent of the difficulties Princess Diana had with the press and the royal family.
Meghan is not a victim, but she has been victimized, humiliated, shamed, and harassed. A media bent on using racial and sexist stereotypes to push Meghan to leave Harry, but also by the people of Britain and America. Meghan didn’t fit the mold, she didn’t follow the script, she didn’t know the protocol. For Meghan, her courtesy will never be good enough, her ancestry not white enough, her existence a complete threat to the future of a monarchy living well beyond its years.
Joy Ellen Sauter is a freelance writer living in Seattle, Washington with her partner, Nathan, two teenage boys, and two cuddly pit bulls. She writes about parenting, mental health, popular culture, history, disability, the foster care system, and human rights. She is the Editor of TURNED UP, a publication about Cultural Theory. Joy’s work has appeared in Mamamia, Scary Mommy, and YourTango.
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