Dammit, Meghan Markle is right. Sort of.
A grudging admission and an alternative podcast idea.
It’s always bothersome having to admit agreeing with someone who you don’t like. And be assured, I am no fan of Ms. Markle. The woman gets right up my nose.
This is NOTHING to do with her skin colour. It’s the naff, victimhood-infused pseudo-feminism she’s selling. It’s the appropriation of the word “compassion” for her brand when she and her husband have shown exactly the opposite in how they’ve treated both of their families. It’s the abject failure to understand the difference between celebrity and royalty and then blaming everyone else for that failure. It’s…
Well, it’s a whole bunch of stuff. But this article is not about trolling Meghan. It is to say — she’s right. About something. In a way.
The tag line of her much-hyped Spotify podcast is: “Archetypes with Meghan — a podcast where we investigate, dissect, and subvert the labels that try to hold women back”. So far, she’s taken on the labels diva, bimbo and ambition. And some others. I forget.
Like Meghan herself, the podcast seems to have a distinctly Marmite-y quality to it, with people either fawning all over it or completely panning it. I haven’t listened to them but I have read reviews (that seemed like the less painful option) and it does seem as though MM is on typical me-me-me-poor-me-my-truth overdrive.
But I do understand the underlying point about women having words thrown at them which seem unfair, discriminatory and aimed at discrediting us. There is more than a little truth in this and it is right to call it out.
But why put a victimhood spin on it? Why not try to rise above it and just say “I don’t like that word, can we park it please?” Surely that would exhibit a great deal more power and self-confidence than the poor-us whinging about how these words are sooooo evil?
In that vein, I am going to reimagine the Archetypes podcast and give it my own, personal flavour. My podcast will be called: “Please Stop Calling Me That — a podcast about words which just really piss women off”. And the first word which I shall be investigating, dissecting and subverting is “trouble”.
This word has been following me around like toilet paper stuck on the heel of my shoe ever since I can remember. It hasn’t always been said in a nasty way — my beloved Grandpa used to ask me sometimes whether I was “trouble” or “treasure” today, and meant it with nothing except love. The annoyance stems from the fact that I can’t understand why people attach it to me so routinely.
As a kid, I was not trouble. I did not give my parents any hassle. I did not smash windows, steal, fall in with the wrong crowd or sleep around. I got straight As, exhibited only mild rebellion in my teenage years and behaved well at school. I preferred ponies, running and reading to going out drinking. I was a good girl. I was boring. And yet somehow also “trouble”. What gives?
Living out in a German-speaking area kind of knocked the issue on the head for a while. Germans have a number of other words that follow women around like unwanted but ardent admirers (like “anstrengend”. Lord knows how I can rant about “anstrengend”…). But “trouble” at least seemed to have stayed on the other side of the English Channel.
Until The Other Half started using it. Now, to be clear: TOH is the best boyfriend that ever walked the earth. He is kind, generous, patient, smart— and absolutely emancipated. Ours is a relationship of equals in every way. In short, TOH is the cat’s pyjamas and he is my favourite person in the whole world. There’s no way he would put me — or any other woman — down unless I/she deserved it. His criticisms can be harsh but there’s always a reason.
As a couple, we are in no way shy of a sporty discussion, so I waste no time in pulling him up on “trouble”. On the way to the cinema to see Triangle of Sadness (go see it, it’s amazing) I ask him right out what exactly it is that makes him think of me as “trouble”.
“I don’t know”, he says. “But, from me, it’s definitely not meant negatively. I like it”.
Well that’s nice, I guess. But I still haven’t got a satisfactory answer to my question and I want one, so I press him further.
After some more questioning, I manage to establish that “it’s just the whole package”. Keeping up the pressure (persistence pays!), we define “the whole package” as:
- the general appearance, and in particular the voluminous curly hair which is clearly a stranger to any sort of control, which, in turn
- is indicative of my personality generally. The refusal to conform, the need to question and discuss, the will to challenge the status quo.
So there we have it: “trouble” is essentially looking and acting like you are going to cause a bit of a disturbance (if not chaos) by asking “why?” TOH, as a person who gives less than zero proverbials about conforming and who does a fair bit of questioning and challenging himself, is happy to be a passenger on my Great Big Trouble Train. In fact, he’s right at the front, driving it with me! This is why I adore him so.
Still, this does not take away from the fact that “trouble” is not always meant nicely. Asking “why?” is the core attribute of an intelligent person. Why slap the label “trouble” on it? Well, I guess because people like their comfort zones and the way things are and don’t always like someone coming along, shaking things up and precipitating change. I don’t doubt Meghan ran up against a few of them behind the walls of Buckingham Palace. I’ve locked horns with a few myself.
But rather than take the “boo-hoo, woe is me, it’s holding me down, the world is so unfair” route — how about this:
“I’m too much for you? Well — GO GET LESS”.