On Friday, International Women’s Day, Meghan Markle participated in a panel discussion organised by The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, of which she is now Vice President, to talk about challenges to gender equality and how to create more opportunity for women and girls around the world. At one point she was asked about reading newspapers and being on Twitter. Her response made me roll my eyes, particularly at the end, when the moderator clarifies, almost with disbelief, that Meghan never looks at Twitter – here’s the video and I’m referring specifically to her reaction to the question:
The Duchess of Sussex has revealed she does not read newspapers or engage with Twitter during a discussion held to celebrate #InternationalWomensDay— ITV News (@itvnews) March 8, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/qLmQZh2eOL pic.twitter.com/IlB1uWOJf2
It’s that … scoff. The scoff that happens around 49 second mark. Like looking at Twitter is beneath her. And the “sorry, no” that follows it, as if to say that, ummm, I’m better than that, haven’t you heard?
Look, there are dicks on Twitter who’ve been coming for her ever since she and Prince Harry started dating. I get it. I get it that there’s all kinds of f-cksh-t on social media that she has no time for. But it’s the attitude here that feels … overperformed.
As we’ve seen, for the most part, Meghan has been an effective and skilled performer. She’s experienced in media and public relations. Given her background and maturity, she’s been able to adapt really smoothly into the expectations of her royal role. Given her background and what she’s been up against (so much racism and classism from those fusty-ass colonisers), we have seen lately that she’s taken it to the assholes who’ve been attacking her with an impressive and strategic game plan, put to full force a couple of weeks ago during her New York Takeover for her baby shower. This is a woman who’s been disrupting a dusty, creaky institution in a way that only a true millennial celebrity can. It’s been fun – and satisfying – to watch. Because she’s so f-cking good at it: to be good at it is to organically combine what’s real, what she truly stands behind, and the selling of it. And both can be true – you can be in love and you can believe in the work and you can be excellent at the presentation of it.
Once in a while, however, it’s almost like she buys into the performance part a little too much. This is one of those times. The “I only read books and The Economist” thing is Meghan’s “take me seriously” version of Blake Lively popping off at a reporter for asking her what she’s wearing. It’s Shailene Woodley claiming she’s too intellectual to watch TV while on an award show red carpet supporting a television series. It’s a lazy, surface response that doesn’t allow for any nuance and that, ironically, is the epitome of what Meghan herself is criticising, which is “hashtag feminism” – saying the easiest thing that gets the easy claps, a simplification of a complicated issue for the purpose of performing virtue.
And don’t forget, Meghan used to be on Twitter and Instagram. In 2017, on International Women’s Day, she tweeted a screenshot of a poem by Nayyirah Waheed with the caption “To always knowing your worth”.
Would we call that #feminism?
Meghan quit Twitter and IG, understandably and justifiably, when she joined the royal family to become a part of the greater whole – which is to say that on social media, she is represented on Twitter and Instagram on the royal accounts, Kensington Palace’s accounts, to be specific. KENSINGTON PALACE IS ON TWITTER. Clearly, then, there is value for them to be there, to communicate certain messages, to engage their followers, to connect to a certain demographic, the very demographic that Meghan appeals to. That’s her base! If the messaging around Meghan is supposed to be that she’s the same person now that she always was, with or without the royal title, isn’t there a better answer about Twitter and social media, activities she used to engage in, before the royal title, a more layered analysis of its pros and cons rather than a derivative typical celebrity-style “ugh, the tabloids” response, which no one ever believes from celebrities anyway because we all know they love being the centre of attention?
You remember when Prince Harry and Meghan sat down for their first interview after announcing their engagement? And at one point when she was talking about them being set up by a friend, she said that, “I didn’t know much about him – I just asked, ‘Is he nice?’ Because if he wasn’t kind I didn’t really see there was any point”.
Many, many people As IFFFFed her in that moment because, well, “I didn’t know much about him” seemed, to them, disingenuous. I didn’t see it then as being disingenuous but it does come from the same place that this scoff about not looking at Twitter comes from – an occasional tendency to overperform the performance, which from a work perspective, takes away from someone who otherwise consistently delivers.
Here are Harry and Meghan today visiting Canada House as part of Commonwealth Day. That green looks amazing on her. I keep, however, wanting to yank down that coat so that the collar sits on the back off the neck.