For a long time now, Black women have been arguing that Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle is a victim of misogynoir – just like all of them.
When Meghan and Prince Harry sat down with the acclaimed Oprah Winfrey for a tell-all interview – for the first time since severing all ties with the Royal Family – the two-hour conversation showed how deep this targeted harassment runs.
The interview confirms that Meghan is a victim of misogynoir – not just at the hands of the British tabloids, but also the Buckingham Palace itself.
Coined by African American feminist scholar Moya Bailey, ‘misogynoir’ is the practice that perpetuates demeaning stereotypes to shape the public perception of Black women. It is the idea that while all women experience misogyny, including other women of colour, it is more difficult for Black women to escape ‘dehumanisation.’
‘Concerns About Unborn Child’s Colour’
That colourism and racism continue to be rampant is evident in the Oprah interview – especially at the point where the actor reveals that concerns were raised in the Royal family about her then unborn child Archie’s skin colour.
Meghan also said that she suspected the reason Archie wasn’t given the title “Prince” is because “people” in the palace were concerned he might have dark skin on account of her being a “woman of colour”.
While the Buckingham Palace having these ‘concerns’ is shocking, this is hardly the first time Meghan is facing vitriolic attack.
Instances Of Misogynoir Against Meghan
The tabloids have been running a smear campaign against her since 2016, when her relationship with Harry first became public. In the initial days, her then boyfriend Harry issued a statement asking tabloids to cease the racist undertones in their articles. But it never did.
Over time, the attacks only became more pronounced – and the silence from senior Royals more conspicuous.
As the Vogue puts it – “Meghan isn’t hated because she’s a celebrity. Meghan has an anti-fandom because she’s a Black woman who married a prince and, for a little while, got to be a princess.”
When the tabloids are not accusing her of ‘snatching’ Prince Harry away from the Royal family, they are talking about allegations of harassment and bullying raised by the staff. Then, there is the infamous ‘she-knows-what-she-got-into-why-complain-now’ articles and social media posts that have filled the internet.
She is presented as an outsider, someone who schemed and made her way into the Royal family. Tabloids seem to love to project her as someone who is married above her ‘class’, adding the usual ‘gold-digger’ trope, and just the right mix of sentences to make her seem like an imposter – making them the biggest perpetrators of misogynoir.
‘Team Meghan Or Team Kate?’
The misogynoir is most evident when Meghan is constantly, day in, day out, pitted against her sister-in-law and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. Once a social climber, Kate is today the ‘embodiment of selflessness’, while Meghan is the ‘career-centric’, ‘manipulative’ daughter-in-law.
A dig at the class difference between Kate and her husband, the ‘Waitey Katie’ headlines to insinuate she ‘waited for years to be engaged’ to Prince William – seemed to dissipate when Meghan entered the picture.
From Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Evening Standard, the Telegraph, the Times, and The Sun, all tabloids have been party to this, pointed out Buzzfeed, by giving a series of examples.
Did Meghan Make Kate Cry?
During the much-anticipated interview to Oprah, Meghan addressed the rumours that she and Kate were feuding when the couple were still working members of the Royal family.
Referring to the rumour that she made Kate cry, Meghan said, "The reverse happened. That was a turning point. That was when everything changed,” adding that Kate apologised with a note and flowers. But neither Kate nor the tabloids clarified this, even as multiple versions of the story was written about this incident.
“If you love me, you don’t have to hate her. And if you love her, you don’t have to hate me,” said Meghan, addressing how the two women were continually compared, following that incident.
‘Every Black Woman Knows What Meghan Is Talking About’
Support poured for Meghan from Black women across the globe – with the iconic Serena Williams leading the charge.
“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour, to minimise us, to break us, and to demonise us. We must recognise our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism,” she wrote.
“She has the class, colour and privilege. But she still had to feel this way,” wrote Bailey on Twitter, pointing that the practice is very much prevalent, even if hardly discussed in mainstream media.