According to Meghan Markle, tabloid headlines “make an imprint” that may help to racial bias and unintentional stereotypes.
Speaking on a new episode of her podcast Archetypes, the Duchess of Sussex said that even when people say: “Oh, I never read stories, I never read tabloids” they “still see the headline”.
Since Meghan and Harry started dating in 2016, she has had a tense relationship with the media.
In November that year, Harry released an extraordinary statement in which he confirmed the relationship and said his girlfriend had “been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment”.
The statement specifically addressed alleged behavior by some elements of the press, criticizing “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”.
Plus, “the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”
In the podcast episode, which featured US stand-up comedian Margaret Cho, Meghan said that people “might not know where this unconscious bias or this stereotype you have in your head about someone comes from, but if you start to peel back the layers and you understand where it got planted then you can understand how we get to that point.”
The remarks were part of a larger conversation about “toxic” tropes and stereotypes of Asian women and the dangers they can pose in real life.
The Atlanta spa shootings were “framed” last year, according to Cho, who stated in the media that “the framing of it was that they were dragon ladies.”
The assumption that Asian women are fetishized has become “almost like [a] shorthand,” she claimed, despite the fact that that specific phrase had not been used in the story’s media coverage.
She further argued that this stems from the “fantasy of orientalism,” which holds that Asian women are “beautiful and deadly” and possess “an inherent threat.”
“The weirdness of these old archetypes — the dragon lady — still holds true even in news coverage,” Cho also said regarding the shooting, during which eight people were killed.
Meghan is not alone in thinking that press coverage and headlines can be practical tools in fostering racial prejudice.