The Duchess of Sussex sat down with the feminist icon for a recent "backyard chat" hosted by Yahoo’s Makers Women, a brand that “accelerates the women’s movement”.
During the wide-ranging conversation, which took place outdoors seated at a wooden table, the pair touched on representation while discussing the possibility the United States will elect Kamala Harris to be vice president.
“We’ve been rescued by women of colour in all of our recent elections because of a vote of conscience and compassion,” Steinem said. “The heart of the Democratic party has been black women, actually, and now there is a potential Vice President who is black and that’s exciting.”
In response, Meghan said she is “so excited to see that kind of representation,” explaining how important it was for her growing up biracial to see someone who looks like her, whether it was a doll or someone in office.
“As many of us believe, you can only be what you can see. And in the absence of that, how can you aspire to something greater than what you see in your own world?” the duchess said, before asking Steinem whether she feels “hopeful”.
The duchess and women’s rights activist also spoke about the importance of voting and encouraging those in our lives to vote, and of concerns about voter suppression.
According to Meghan, who said she has been “really concerned about voter suppression,” she recently spoke with former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams about what voters can do to combat intimidation tactics.
“I’ve been really concerned about voter suppression,” she said. “We can already see all the different challenges that we’re facing. I had the chance to speak with Stacey Abrams about this to try to get a better understanding of what to do, for example, if you’re a person of colour and you’re in line, for potentially hours on end, and during that time someone tries to intimidate you to tell you that you should get out of line because you might be under surveillance or any number of intimidation tactics that are so scary.
“And then you think: ‘You know, it’s not worth it.’ You decide to step out of line and relinquish your right to vote. That’s bad enough, but then there’s a ripple effect because whoever is in the back of the line says: ‘Whatever they did to them…I don’t want that to happen to me.’ That, I think, is so frightening.”
In response, Steinem said just discussing tactics of voter suppression will help people better prepare for it.
Later, while talking about feminism, Meghan revealed that Prince Harry is a feminist.
“As I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to understand that it’s not mutually exclusive to be a feminist and be feminine,” she said. “And to own that and harness your femininity and your identification as a woman in all of the different layers.”
After Steinem pointed out that you can be “a feminist and be masculine and a guy,” the duchess referenced her husband Prince Harry as proof.
“Like my husband! I love that when he just came in he said: ‘You know that I’m a feminist too, right Gloria?! It’s really important to me that you know that,” Meghan recalled.
The duchess also discussed the impact Prince Harry’s feminism will have on the couple’s son Archie, who will “grow up with a father who is so comfortable owning that as part of his own self-identification.”
“That there’s no shame in being someone who advocates for fundamental human rights for everyone, which of course includes women,” she added.
Steinem responded: “And also that he is a nurturing father. Because then your son will grow up knowing it’s okay to be loving and nurturing.”
Meghan, who wore a pair of $249 white striped pants by Anine Bing, a simple white T-shirt, and a $356 straw hat by Janessa Leone, concluded the conversation thanking Steinem for her “wisdom and inspiration”.
“Gloria, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. This is so important. The next two months are so important,” she said.
“If you don’t vote, you don’t exist,” the duchess wrote in the introduction. “These words from Gloria Steinem have stuck with me since she first spoke them during this conversation.”
Meghan also reiterated her belief “that we vote to honour those who came before us and to protect those who come after us,” adding: “Ms Steinem, my friend Gloria, is one of the women I honour when I vote.”
“I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did and that it allows you to reflect on who inspires you to vote as we approach this upcoming election,” Meghan said. “Your voice matters. Please use it.”
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