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7   +   3   =  

Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love.

This op-ed includes mentions of emotional abuse

I haven’t spoken to my father in over two years. I sent him one last email detailing why I no longer wanted to be in contact with him, I explained how his decisions and emotional abuse harmed me and told him that I wanted to prioritize my mental health so that I could move forward with my life. It was the best decision I have ever made, and not a single day goes by that I regret what I did. That’s why I was infuriated when I saw Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, being interviewed by none other than Piers Morgan, a notorious anti-feminist (or men’s rights activist, whatever the fuck that means) and media figure who has obsessively and publicly harassed Meghan since her introduction to the British public.

In his interview with Morgan, Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love. Following his multiple publicity stunts leading up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry, he claims that his daughter cut off all contact with him despite his numerous apologies. His continuous need to center himself and his emotional needs over Meghan’s autonomy and the boundaries she most likely created for her own mental health shows a clear disregard for his daughter’s wellbeing.

While it would be easy to disregard this latest display of abuse as an impassioned cry for family unity and love, that superficial and non-contextual conclusion deliberately ignores the fact that Mr. Markle chose to be interviewed by Morgan, a man who has been using every ounce of his whiteness and maleness to act like an abusive ex-boyfriend. A documented transphobic, sexist and racist overpaid bag of termites, Morgan has repeatedly used Meghan Markle to draw attention to himself in the worst ways possible. From questioning her agency and ability to make her own decisions, accusing her of being “fake” and a “social climber”, to alleging that she “ghosted him”, Morgan has shown how toxic whiteness and masculinity is performed without repercussions. It comes as no surprise that Morgan would interview Thomas Markle and amplify his abuse on national British television. It also comes as no surprise that the British press would continue to publicly uplift the opinions of people who have directed their racist and sexist criticisms towards Meghan Markle.

After months of racial abuse, including claims that she is breaking musty-ass royal protocols, the optics of two white men on TV badgering Meghan is a stark reminder that women of color in particular will have their agency and boundaries challenged, even by their own fathers. Mr. Markle, who can only be well aware of his daughter’s feminist politics, chose to speak to the man who is the polar opposite of what Meghan stands for and I do not think that his choice was accidental. Both are using their positions in society as white men to earn public sympathy while demonizing a biracial Black woman. And since society grants humanity primarily to white, cisgender men and women, it comes as no surprise that this display of manipulation and publicity garnered sympathy from the public. Thomas Markle’s decision to appear on Morgan’s morning show also amplifies Morgan’s obsession with Markle and the allegations that she ghosted him. These allegations are now being reinforced by her father’s own claims of “ghosting” as a pattern she has engaged in rather than her right to not bestow attention on an abusive parent. While it’s impressive that two old, white men learned about the term ghosting, they have both chosen to ignore that Meghan’s decisions for her mental health and happiness have a right to stand unchallenged.

Family unity, unconditional love and family-first rhetoric consistently pushes away the experiences of those who were emotionally or physically abused by their parents or other family members. While Meghan Markle’s relationship to her father is her own, it’s worth parsing through the idea that being a blood relative or a parent does not mean that you are owed a relationship to someone. Family dynamics vary, but they also have similar threads running throughout them. So many of our relationships, familial ones included, emphasize the need for unconditional love and forgiveness which mostly reinforces patriarchal, cisheteronormative oppressions. Unconditional love often acts as an integral part of maintaining harmful social structures within family relationships. No love should be unconditional when it covers up the abuse of vulnerable people who suffer for decades without ever being able to cut off abusive family members. Love shouldn’t be unconditional because it perpetuates the idea that all behaviors and actions are worthy of forgiveness no matter how much harm they inflict upon us. Cutting off toxic family members isn’t a decision that is easy, nor is it made lightly. It’s often a decision that is made after years of undergoing consistent manipulation and harm. It is an informed, healthy and brave decision which requires a lot of strength.

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Meghan Markle’s choice to handle her relationship with her father however she sees fit is something which ought to be respected, but we have yet to reach a time where people let Black and Brown women make their own decisions without public scrutiny and gaslighting. There won’t ever be a time in Piers Morgan’s career where he won’t make a woman’s personal decision his own chance to publicly engage in harassment and abuse and I doubt there will be a time when we stop centering the hurt feelings of abusive white men. In the meantime, it remains the ethical responsibility of reporters and media companies to stop giving these wretched men platforms to voice their fragility and manipulations.

 

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