Meghan Markle Is Having A Baby. Why Does The Media Care So Much?

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We all know tabloids are rags. They are lowest common denominator, ill-informed and reactionary entities of ‘media’. To abandon them, to let their own brand of festering, malicious journalism die, would be beneficial to anyone who values facts and integrity. Alas, their readership creates influence that cannot be ignored. It is easy to see criticism of tabloids as monumentally low-bar, but to shrug off our duty of holding these callous titans to account would be to afford them a degree of infallibility they do not deserve. 

It is therefore with some exasperation that I disparage the tabloids’ latest tirade against Meghan Markle, for there is a sense of obviousness about my criticisms. The action under dispute is Markle’s decision to have her own delivery team led by a female doctor, rather than the ‘men in suits’ that make up the royal gynaecologists.

Her detractors have taken two angles of attack, first suggesting that her decision is somehow discriminatory before feeding the tired but reliable narrative that Meghan is far from royal material. Even a basic understanding of the abortion rights movement, centred around female bodily autonomy, would discredit the first claim. ‘Men in suits’ is a well-known polemic for government-run, male-dominated committees deciding the fate of women without the latter’s consultation. Suggestions of discrimination are therefore disingenuous, for Meghan’s decision acts as a response to historical, fundamental and institutional transgressions against female bodily autonomy, rather than being a pre-emptive ‘snub’, as the tabloids claim. 

One would think that the papers would recognise the irony of their right-wing, sensationalist and callous team of writers taking any sort of moral high ground. One might also expect them to be intelligent enough not to undermine their own ‘moral’ position with discriminatory angles in the same article. The Daily Mail and Express have this contradiction cemented in their raison d’être; as ‘middle-market’ newspapers, they attempt to fuse serious journalism with gossip and entertainment.

Markle is therefore derided for being discriminatory, before, in a laughably hypocritical manner, being lambasted for not truly belonging to the royal family. The tactics are a malicious continuation of those employed against Diana, with the added ‘wrong’ traits of nationality and ethnicity joining that of class in being considered the antithesis of royal. Such a contradiction exposes the failure of tabloids’ attempts to use ‘whataboutism’ to play feminists at their own game. 

Like much of tabloid journalism, therefore, this is a non-story. As the Huffington Post notes, many women choose female midwives for delivery anyway, exposing this attack as no more than an unfair polemic. In the most scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel, cynical fashion possible, you could potentially argue that Markle’s announcement smacks of using feminism as a commodity, in a similar way to what some suggest Ariana Grande or the Spice Girls are doing with claims of LGBT encounters. This seems unlikely, however, given Markle’s decades-long commitment to feminism, including during periods in which such commitment would be considered, almost unanimously, a career detriment. 

Meghan has therefore done nothing wrong, and nothing for which it would even be worth putting pen to paper. She can’t win, as is the nature of the tabloid game. At the time of writing, the headlines read that Meghan is now ‘copying’ the Queen for following Royal protocol proving that safely navigating the minefield that is our sensationalist media is nigh on impossible. These papers prey on our most basic emotions, stirring anger with disingenuous and misinformed lines, but such a strategy is incredibly effective. It is therefore our burden to counter and disparage such tripe, for it is tripe of the influential sort. 

Alfie Coulstock-Cockeram

Image: ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI/KENSINGTON PALACE/AP