- Meghan Markle is undermining the voice of feminism, two researchers from British universities have said.
- In a paper published in the journal Celebrity Studies, authors Laura Clancy and Hannah Yelin argue that the actress’ feminist voice has lulled since marrying Prince Harry in May.
- They add that she has become a tool for the monarchy as her fame is being used to “re-legitimise” the royal family’s male monarchical power.
- Markle has not been entirely silent on the issue of feminism since her induction into the royal fold.
- During her and Harry’s royal tour of the British Commonwealth in October, the duchess gave a speech about women’s suffrage and gender equality in New Zealand.
Meghan Markle: A feminist hero?
Not quite, according to two university researchers who have studied Markle since her marriage to Prince Harry in May.
In a paper entitled “Meghan’s Manifesto: Meghan Markle and the Co-option of Feminism,” published in the journal Celebrity Studies, authors Laura Clancy and Hannah Yelin argue that the actress’ feminist voice has lulled since her induction to the royal fold.
According to The Times, Clancy and Yelin say in the paper that Markle is being subjected to a “conservative, upper-class makeover” and that her fame is being used to “re-legitimise” the royal family’s male monarchical power.
“Markle’s activist voice has been either silenced or appropriated by the monarchy,” the researchers write.
“Shas quit her acting career, closed down her popular blog and social media accounts for all her online activity to be ciphered through Kensington Palace.
“Meanwhile, Markle is said to be receiving ‘duchess lessons’ from the Queen’s advisers, to be brought up to speed with protocol and expectations of life with the monarchy.
“While the monarchy appears to be celebrating her diversity and modernising influence, then, this is only permitted within prescribed boundaries.”
Her page on www.royal.uk, the official website of the royal family, is almost entirely devoted to championing women.
Its central point, and the only direct quote from Meghan, is the line “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”
The entry also opens with an anecdote from 1993, when the 11-year-old Meghan called out the US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble for using sexist language to market their dish soap.
It also highlights her pro-women work with the United Nations, which she supports as an “advocate for women’s political participation and leadership.”
During her recent royal tour of the British Commonwealth, Markle gave a speech about women’s suffrage and gender equality at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand.
“Because, yes, women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness,” Markle said in the speech.
“In the words of your suffragette, Kate Sheppard: ‘All that separates, whether race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome.'”
Markle’s feminist outcries are too few and far between, though, the researchers say, going further to assert that the Duchess’ role in the royal family actually undermines feminism as a whole.
“A celebrity (post) feminist such as Markle is of great value to a British monarchy keen to … mask, or at least deflect attention from, their own intensely problematic relationship with issues of race, gender, class and religion.
“What is at stake here is much more than the representations of one woman and the meanings contained therein; it is the meaning of feminism itself.”
Time will tell whether Markle’s feminist advocations are indeed being muffled by the palace, however, The Times understands that the duchess’ first royal patronages, to be announced next year, will champion causes relating to female empowerment.
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