We’ve come a long way, we females. We’re slowly being recognised as equals to men. We aren’t there yet, and we have a journey still to make. Undoubtedly there are obstacles in the way, glass ceilings to smash, mindsets to evolve, stereotypes to break down.
This might be controversial, maybe not. But I think that one of the things that holds us back is the way women treat other women.
Not all of us, obviously. I mean, I like and trust my friends. I mean in a more generalised way. Women love to pass comment on women from a safe distance. And it doesn’t get safer than on the occasion of Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle. There is very little chance that the odd dig here, the odd gossip there, is going to reach the ears of those it’s about.
However in my opinion, some of the stuff I have heard over the past few days is demonstrative of how women would too often rather tear each other down, than build each other up. And just because you won’t run into these women at a PTA Meeting, in the gym or in the work canteen, doesn’t mean it’s a helpful or acceptable way to talk about them.
Let’s start with the wedding guests.
“Would it kill Victoria Beckham to smile? God I bet David hates having to stay married to such a miserable cow”.
Erm…I think the green eyed monster is out here. David’s hot, I grant you. I wish he didn’t pronounce “world” as “weld” in interviews but with that bod, twinned with his awesome dad powers and twinkly eyes, I totally forgive him. But he chose Victoria, not you. And she might be serious in the limelight, but that’s ok. I have an occasional dose of the bitch resting face myself and yet my husband thinks I am fucking hilarious. Leave her alone. I am sure she enjoyed the wedding and was dancing with drunk abandon with her hair in a mess and her shoes off at the evening reception. Possibly with extra pizazz when the DJ played Spice Up Your Life.
Then again, maybe this wedding wasn’t like the ones I have been to…my point is that she is just a mum and wife doing her best at the end of the day. Whether or not she smiles is no one’s business but hers, and using this to cast aspersions on her marriage is frankly Katie Hopkins level knobbiness.
“Look at Kate. I can’t believe she left her baby behind so early, poor little thing.” “Is she wearing white? What a bitch, stealing the limelight” “She looks tired. Doesn’t she look tired? Bored, even.” “I bet they aren’t really friends.”
She didn’t wear white, she wore yellow. The light made some of the pictures look lighter. Even if she had worn white I wouldn’t have cared. Unless it was KKK style white, which might have been noteworthy. Furthermore, even yellow makes her a braver woman than I, less than a month post-partum. I was still on the nappy-pads, dark leggings and baggy leisure-wear at that stage. And heels? Bravo, Kate. At that point post-childbirth I would have been worried that my insides might fall out of my gaping fanny with the exertion of it all.
And yes she left the sprog at home. If he’d kicked off mid ceremony everyone would have judged her for bringing him. I am sure she would in a way much rather have been snuggled up at home with baby, but she can’t win, can she? Women are going to point and judge her either way. Of course she looked tired. She’s a mother. That’s her face now.
And now the bride (and family). “Isn’t she just a money grabber?” “She’s divorced, you know” “Her family is awful” “Some of her acting roles are a bit racy” “It’ll never last” “Call that a dress?” “What would his mother think?”
No, she’s not a money grabber, she’s an A List actor, she’s probably doing ok. Career wise her own options just got a hell of a lot more limited, so she’s gaining a great deal and making some sacrifices, just as we all do when marriage and potentially motherhood beckons. And omg, divorced? *clutches pearls*. That really doesn’t mean much in 2018. So why bring it up? Unless you live in effing Northanger Abbey (yes I referenced Jane Austen, I am like, well clever) everyone has a past, so why use Meghan’s as a stick to beat her with? Re: her family, well so what? Plenty of people have a family member who doesn’t make them proud. Meghan’s dad made a few dubious decisions, and her sister is a media vulture who made me agree with Piers Morgan, so that’s annoying. But Meghan has my sympathy, not my judgement here. Who didn’t have a marginally embarrassing family member doing silly things at a family occasion now and then? But unlike Meghan, it wasn’t Twitter fodder. Her mum did her proud on the day but imagine how she felt asking Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle in place of her dad? She’s a real person with real feelings, let’s not lose sight of that.
Meghan and Harry looked amazing. They look really happy. That’s really it, isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about. I’m not gonna get all “preacher” on you. That’s kind of been done already. But I hate that women are the ones shouting the loudest and shrillest here. Most men I know don’t have an opinion, beyond that Harry is “punching above”.
I remember when Diana died, I was working in a newsagents as a weekend job, and every customer had an opinion, just like they have done on the wedding. The images of William and, in particular, Harry, following their mother’s coffin through the streets of London really got to me. His eyes. He was so young. Losing his mother and having to deal with that in the public eye is just a devastating idea. He had to share his grief with the nation, and that wasn’t his decision. Even then people (women) had stuff to say. “She wasn’t there for William and Harry in the final years”. “Why did she even marry Charles if she knew he didn’t love her?” “I don’t reckon Charles is his dad.” “Why didn’t he cry?”
You know what? If we weren’t so preoccupied with judgement, with speculation and with using people in the public eye to gauge our own importance, the press wouldn’t have been pursuing Diana in the first place. We feed this shit. We’re all implicit.
I wish them every happiness, not that they care what I think. I also wish that women could get behind Meghan. I think many are. I suspect she has a lot to offer in her new position. She’s clever, and she’s driven, and I think this could be time for change.
I might be a great deal more ordinary than Kate, Victoria* and Meghan, but I hope they make the difference that I think they can. And I also kind of hope they give a massive middle finger to anyone who judges them. In fact, maybe we can invent a new royal wave?
*I do know that Victoria Beckham is not a member of the royal family. But she is V, she doesn’t come for free, she’s a real lady, etc. Zigazig ah.
By Michelle Harris