A piece in today’s Times:
She has been a feminist since she was 11. Her husband is a feminist. And now, it seems, even their forthcoming baby is a feminist.
That was the message from the Duchess of Sussex yesterday as she appeared on a panel celebrating International Women’s Day, in which she shared her views on men, Twitter, education for girls and being “woke”.
In her most wide-ranging statement of her views since joining the royal family, the duchess revealed that she does not read anything written in the media about her, because it all feels like “noise”.
She spoke as it emerged that the majority of social media posts attacking the duchess come from a handful of accounts.
The group Hope Not Hate analysed 5,000 tweets using the most common anti-Meghan hashtags, and found that 20 accounts were responsible for 70 per cent.
The duchess, 37, was speaking on a panel at King’s College London which also included the singer Annie Lennox and the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard. She was introduced as “a royal not afraid to embrace full-on feminism”.
Asked about how her pregnancy is going — her baby is due next month — she replied: “Very well. It’s funny, I’d actually been joking these past few weeks I’d seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism’.
“I loved that. So boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case.”
Apart from that, she spoke less about her private life than the importance of global feminism, although she did declare that no man should feel threatened to have a woman by his side, standing on equal terms with him instead of in his shadow.
No names were mentioned.
Asked about whether feminism was in danger of becoming just a subject for women, the duchess, who was yesterday made vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, said: “I’ve said for a long time, you can be feminine and feminist.
“You can be masculine and I think in terms of masculinity you understand that your strength includes knowing your vulnerabilities and your sense of self and security, your confidence, comes in knowing that a woman is by your side, not behind you.”
Asked about her mixed-race heritage, and whether that led to different experiences in Britain and the US, she said: “We are all experiencing in some ways a version of the same thing. In many cases that can be colour blind and you are marginalised simply by being a woman.
“In other cases there’s an added layer of race, social demographic, I mean there are so many key elements at play there.”
She added: “It really is about the injustices that we are all experiencing on so many different levels . . . It’s a global problem.”
She was also asked about how she felt about accusations in the press that she was too “trendy” in her feminism, a bit too “woke”, or overly alert to injustice in society.
The duchess said: “I don’t read anything, much safer that way. But equally that’s my own personal preference because I think, positive or negative it can all sort of feel like noise to a certain extent these days.
“So as opposed to getting muddled with that, to focus on the real cause. So for me I think the idea of making the word feminism trendy, that doesn’t make any sense to me personally, right?”
The duchess also spoke about the importance of girls’ education in developing countries, and how to destigmatise menstruation for girls in poor communities who cannot afford sanitary products.
Calling on people to make donations rather than just talk about the issues, she said: “Hashtags are not enough.”
She added: “You could sponsor a girl . . . say, ‘This is a tangible thing that I can do that will enable this girl to stay in school for a year’.”
Talking about how she does not use Twitter, she added: “I think again it’s our responsibility to make a choice of what we click on, make a choice of what we read, make a choice of what we engage in. That is our personal decision to not feed into negativity, to really be more cause driven, action based, and for me it’s a tricky one, because I’m not part of any of that.”
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