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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. https://twitter.com/girlsreallyrule/status/1074666171310460929 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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If your allyship only extends as far as your comfort, you are not an ally.

John Brown was an abolitionist who died in 1859. He was hanged after a failed attempt to attack a federal arsenal to provide arms to a future slave rebellion. He was a flawed human being but he lived by his principles and died by them. And in 2018, that's the kind of energy allies really need to have. I'm not saying you need to attack the government (but that's absolutely an option that is open to you, put a pin in it), but I am saying that you need to sacrifice your own privilege in order to fully combat oppression and make a real change in the world. And if you're not willing to do that, fuck you then. You read that right. In 2018, in a world where rapists are being voted to the Supreme Court and there are literal Nazis in the street, we just don't have time for platitudes. We just don't have space for people who are merely paying lip service to a cause without fully investing themselves in the cause.   This message is specifically going out to white people and men. In 2018, you need to do way better than you are. You need to engage. You know it's bad out there, you know that people who have far less privilege are taking the brunt of the abuse while still fighting against oppression every day. As a real ally, you should be engaging those systems in conflict from the door. In Brown's time, he saw what the pro-slavery group was doing and imitated their tactics to further his side. He rejected his own privilege. He helped slaves escape, he formulated plans to create a stronger system of safety and escape and fought for full-scale end to slavery. We can find people like Brown throughout history, many have been turned into memes that we share because we love a good hero. People who rode bikes through war zones to deliver coded messages, women who seduced Nazis to shoot them in the head. Sometime in the last few years the title of ally has been co-opted. It has come to mean a person who is just not a flaming a bigot. But go into any ally group and you'll see, quite quickly, that there are lines to how far they'll go. They believe in equal rights but won't step to their dad when he makes a sexist joke. They're not racist but won't confront their neighbor on their “all lives matter” sign.
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As long as our culture refuses to hold the Depps of the world accountable, there will always be women like Heard who will be tasked with watching their abusers prosper.

[TW/CW: discussion of domestic violence, rape culture and mentions of sexual assault.] New York Magazine's July 27th, 2015 cover is still as harrowing as it is iconic. Just beneath the bold red lettering of the publication's moniker are 35 women—the victims of Bill Cosby's serial sexual abusedressed in black and seated calmly in their chairs. The uniformity of their open poses and solemn, forward-facing expressions portray a shared preparation for public scrutiny, a feeling all too familiar to anyone who has ever spoken aloud of the abuse they have suffered. Seeing these women congregate in one image is an impactful sight on its own, but the standout element for many of us sits at the end of the last row: an empty chair. It remains unoccupied by all of the women who, despite the presence of nearly three dozen fellow survivors, still didn't feel supported enough to tell their stories. That doubt something that so many silent survivors harboris substantiated by a society that not only continues to interrogate, mock, and ultimately gaslight victims of abuse, but also protects their abusers when they are especially powerful or popular. Johnny Depp is an immensely popular actor. When he and actress Amber Heard divorced in 2016, Heard detailed for the court a history of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Depp. Her testimony included pictures of her bruised face and a detailed witness account from a friend who had to physically shield Heard from Depp's assault. When his legal team claimed that Heard's accusations were false and motivated by possible financial gain, she promised to donate her entire settlement$7 millionto charity.
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