When American actress Megan Markle weds British Prince Harry, she will trade Hollywood for a royal palace and her career as an actress for the duties of a duchess.
While many women envy this fairytale story, some are questioning whether Markle’s choices to give up her career make her a bad feminist. Let’s be clear, they don’t.
The power of being a young woman today is that she can choose to keep working or to put her career on hold to pursue her family. She also reminds us that women can’t realistically have it all at once, but they can still find fulfillment.
This discussion about feminism stems from Monday’s announcement that Prince Harry proposed to Markle which sent joyful shock waves across the world. Daily, we’re getting details about the pending nuptials. However, Markel had already been wrapping up life as a single woman in preparation for a big life change.
After being a character on the tv show ‘Suits’ for seven seasons, Markle confirmed that she would leave the drama. She is also giving up her work as an advocate for women and gender equality for the United Nations – something she’s been doing reportedly since age 11. After three years, Markle also ended her blog earlier this year.
In a BBC interview, a reporter asked Markle about giving up her career and she had this to say:
“I don’t see it as giving anything up. I see it as a change. It’s a new chapter.”
Unfortunately, this new chapter brings with it questions about whether she is still an advocate for women as a feminist. A writer at Fortune says:
The decision to leave it all behind for a man may raise eyebrows among some feminists, who may be hoping that Markle’s track record at UN Women (where she served as an Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership), as well as her biracial heritage, will make her an important ally in the fight for British women’s equal pay and efforts to combat sexual harassment, which emerged as a serious issue in U.K. parliament last month.
Is this 2017? Why should Markle’s personal decision “raise eyebrows” among feminists unless they falsely think that a woman’s only value is in the workplace.
Feminists narrowly define success for women as breaking glass ceilings and climbing professional ladders. When women opt out of that plan and decide to take time away to raise their families, their commitment to the cause of women’s empowerment is challenged. Feminists imply that parenting and family are substandard to the professional world and look down on women who choose to stay at home.
That narrative has fallen flat and even staunch feminists who once espoused this belief have back-tracked. Furthermore, young women today are looking for flexibility in their careers or aren’t reflexively opposed to choosing motherhood over career. Markle is a reflection of that progress.
As for her career, it’s possible to still have one even after taking time away. Other actresses and entertainers ducked out of the limelight to raise their families – and return in some cases – like Candace Cameron Bure, Elizabeth Hurley, Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain.
It’s possible for this duchess-to-be to return to the big or small screen in the future. And when she does, the scripts and salary she would command will propel her far ahead of where she is now, which is a win for her and women in entertainment.