Is Meghan Markle Really a Feminist?

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has added some new sparkle to the British Royal Family. The former actress has been an outspoken force, unlike anyone the royals have ever embraced before. An alum of the prestigious Northwestern University and an avid philanthropist –Markle was known for her social awareness and charitable work long before she wed Prince Harry in May 2018.

One of the many issues that Markle has advocated for is women’s empowerment. In 2015, the Duchess became the United Nations Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership, but does this work make her a feminist?

Meghan Markle

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food | Ben Stanstall/AFP/Getty Images

Is Meghan Markle really a feminist?

The Duchess of Sussex is a feminist and her years of work with women and young girls certainly solidifies her credentials. When she spoke at the UN on International Women’s Day 2015, she said, “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”

Markle’s work with women has been a global endeavor. During her time at the UN, the duchess worked with the New York office to understand the organization’s day-to-day work. Using the tools that she learned the mother-to-be embarked on a learning mission trip to Rwanda where she met female parliamentarian leaders in Kigali and visited the Gihembe refugee camp. While visiting the refugee camp the Suits alum spoke with women who were working on leadership and empowerment at a grassroots level.

Meghan Markle’s feminist quotes

Over the years, Markle has shared some remarkable thoughts on feminism and what being a woman means to her. During a forum official with the Royal Foundation charity in 2017, she said,

What’s interesting is that I hear a lot of people saying, when talking about girls‘ empowerment and women as well, you’ll often hear people saying, ‘You’re helping them find their voices’, I fundamentally disagree with that. Women don’t need to find their voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen. Right now with so many campaigns, like #MeToo and Time’s Up, there is no better time to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included in that.

In a 2017 interview with Create & Cultivate the former actress explained, “You don’t have to play dress up to be a feminist. You are a feminist exactly the way you are. You can be a woman who wants to look good and still stand up for the equality of women. There’s no uniform for feminism; You are a feminist exactly the way you are. You can be a woman who wants to look good and still stand up for the equality of women. Being a feminist and being feminine are not mutually exclusive.”

What is a feminist?

People get very bogged down by the definition of feminism and what a feminist is, but it’s really very simple. In her book, We Should All Be Feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, explained, “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”

Are feminists mad at Meghan Markle?

There have been many debates about feminism and what makes someone a feminist, when really it’s simply the right for women to live their lives however they might choose –even if you don’t personally agree. Unfortunately, Markle has earned the ire of some feminists. Two university researchers–Laura Clancy and Hannah Yelin argued in their piece Meghan’s Manifesto: Meghan Markle and the Co-option of Feminism, that Markle has lost her feminist voice since marrying into the royal family,

They wrote, “Markle’s activist voice has been either silenced or appropriated by the monarchy. She has quit her acting career, closed down her popular blog and social media accounts for all her online activity to be ciphered through Kensington Palace.”

What these researchers have failed to realize is that these are all choices that the 37-year-old duchess made for herself. It might not be the life they want for Markle personally, but that doesn’t mean Markle isn’t a feminist.

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