Meghan Markle Opens Up About The Criticism She Suffered As A Result Of Female Ambition

In her new podcast, Archetypes, the Duchess of Sussex got candid about the negativity and criticism she experienced when dating Prince Harry, and why she was made to feel like her ambition was a terrible thing.

Few individuals have had to endure relentless criticism in the press quite like Meghan Markle. She may have chosen a profession in which being under the spotlight is part of your job description, but far removed from her acting career are the headlines, rumours and salacious gossip pertaining not to her character or credentials, but rather who she was dating. She’s faced negativity, racism, constant putdowns in the press and even seen her family come out against her just in the hope for screen time, and even despite all of this Meghan Markle has only ever been an image of composure with a focus on giving back to the community. 

In her new podcast, Archetypes, which was released on Spotify, the Duchess of Sussex has opened up about what this experience actually looked like and the criticism she faced when she began her relationship with Prince Harry. As Markle explained, more than anything, it was her ambition that was cast in a negative light, as she said it was seen as a “terrible, terrible thing.”

Markle added that despite being brought up to regard ambition as a positive trait, she was unaware just how those perceptions would shift with age as she learned “a thing or two” about the labels and conventions imposed by society that serve to hold women back. 

The podcast episode, titled The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams, sees the pair explore this idea of ambition and the “boxes women have been placed in for generations.” 

“I don’t remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious until I started dating my husband, and apparently ambition is a terrible, terrible thing. For women. Since I felt the negativity behind it, it’s really hard to unreel it. I can’t unsee it either in the millions of girls and women who make themselves smaller, so much smaller on a regular basis.”

meghan markle

Throughout the podcast, Markle tackles those stereotypes that women are frequently made to feel when their ambition becomes a point of contention, such as “boxes like diva, crazy, the B-word,” as she seeks to explore not only where they’ve come from, but also why they’ve remained in public consciousness for so long. “Of course, I know a thing or two about these labels myself,” she adds.

The conversation between Markle and Williams also explores the double standard between how men and women are treated after having kids, something Williams opened up about in an article penned for Vogue in which she detailed her imminent retirement from tennis. As the tennis star described, considerations of that next chapter in her life were incredibly challenging to think about, let alone vocalise. Despite being close to tears since making the decision, Williams said she’s excited “to not have to worry about…performing on such a high level.”

“Tennis was chosen for me and I loved that choice…but now for the first time in my entire life I’m choosing to do something. And it’s hard.”

serena williams

For Markle, she hopes that in sharing her own experiences and those of other women, more will feel encouraged to “open up to reveal the layers that thrive within all of us.” As she argues in the podcast, when women are ambitious they are seen as calculating, selfish or aggressive, and that “if you’re that fierce or strong or brave, then you somehow deserve whatever gets thrown at you, however disproportionate or unfair it may be, and even then it’s more than most could endure.”

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