I would like to congratulate Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s marriage as there is no greater power than love. However, this is not the point. I would like to share my opinion on Meghan Markle’s entry into the British royal family and how it would or would not alter any changes in relation to feminism and racial politics. Firstly, I would like to reiterate my stance on feminism. As you all might know, I have advocated feminism for years, as I have mentioned in my books such as Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, I have defined feminism “as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression”. However, what has been going on for years is a type of feminism that I do not advocate which is reformist feminism such as gender equality where certain (not all) women would seek equality in ways to climb up to reach the level of men’s positions. This type of feminism reinforces the capitalist and patriarchal system which I believe is contrary to what feminism is really about. As mentioned in my books, I think that feminism should be revolutionary. Feminism to me, is the action of ending patriarchal oppression that would not only free women from domination but would free men as well. Also, through feminist politics, black liberation can be achieved by ‘revolutionary social change’.
Why do I reiterate my stance? Because I would like to clarify where I stand in Meghan Markle’s entry into the British royal family. I have read that Meghan Markle calls herself a feminist. For instance, I have recently watched Meghan’s United Nations speech where she had mentioned that when she was just 11-years-old, she had changed Protector & Gamble’s dishwashing soap slogan from “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” to “people all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans”. She had achieved that by writing to Hillary Clinton who was the First Lady of the United States at that time and Protector & Gamble itself. This to me is awesome as she had taken action to end the sexist and patriarchal slogan. This had showed me what kind of a person Meghan is.
In the Guardian, Afua Hirsch had commented on how the royal wedding ‘was a rousing celebration of blackness’ where Reverend Michael Curry had talked about Martin Luther King Jr and slavery. Not only that, but I have also read in another news article of how Meghan had positively modified some conventional sexist traditions of the royal wedding. Firstly, how she had walked down the aisle by herself where then Prince Charles had ‘accompanied’ her midway instead of ‘giving her away’ to the groom. Also, how she had changed the word ‘obey’ to “I Meghan, take you, Harry, to be my husband…”. How she had also defied the sexist tradition that the father should be traveling with the bride, instead she had travelled with her mother. Her mother had also attended the wedding with her dreadlocks which I think was an awesome gesture. However, I think that people are missing the bigger picture here. Although these changes were great as this had introduced a sense of feminism and blackness. In terms of feminism and racial politics, the changes that Meghan had done were temporary as it would not radically change the royal family. Let me explain why.
In the Irish Times, Laura Kennedy states the following:
Little is less progressive than marrying into aristocracy….: a life of domestication where you are not free to express your opinion, must change your appearance as “modesty” dictates, and have at least your public persona defined almost entirely by your relationship with your husband and in-laws.
I definitely agree with Laura Kennedy as I think that Meghan Markle’s entry into the British royal family reinforces the forms of sexist oppression that I have been reiterating and fighting against all these years. Not only that, but I have also read that Meghan had to give up her career, freedom and independence to enter one of the whitest and most patriarchal institutions that has a vast amount of imperial, colonial and racist history which definitely goes against the inherent values of true feminism.
In the Guardian, Robert Booth had stated that Noam Chomsky believes that Meghan can “shake up” the British royal family. I disagree with this. Although the royal family had added a biracial woman, this may not mean that the British royal family may ultimately embrace multiculturalism. In Teen Vogue, Jenn M. Jackson had argued how the British royal family exemplifies white purity at its finest, a single biracial woman cannot and would not erode the patriarchal and white supremacist values inherent in the British royal family. Indeed, Meghan would simply have to assimilate into the royal family and would eventually become one of them. And to be quite candid, I agree with a London based artist called Dreph who was featured in the news website CBCwhere he had stated, “I definitely think we’d be having different conversations if she was, you know, super dark-skinned with like a head wrap, you know what I’m saying?” This shows that there are a lot of contradictory forces between Meghan calling herself a feminist and then her entering a patriarchal and racist institution. Of course, it was her choice to marry Prince Harry. But in relation to feminism and racial politics, not much “shaking up” of the British royal family is going to occur. Indeed, she will now have to rely on her husband which reinforces the concept of patriarchal domination as a form of sexist oppression that I have argued about.
“Truly, it is more essential and relevant to ask ourselves in what ways do how we live and work manifest commitment to justice and feminist politics”. I will leave you with this quote that I have previously written to think about.