Meghan Markle and Prince Harry won’t be raising their child with a “fluid approach to gender” if the palace has anything to say about it, but that won’t stop them from making sure the little royal has a very strong take on gender politics. In fact, while hosting a panel at King’s College London in honor of International Women’s Day on Friday, Markle claimed that her unborn child has already become quite the feminist while still in the womb.
After a powerful discussion on feminism with fellow panelists Annie Lennox, Adwoa Aboah, the former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard, the Let Us Learn founder Chrisann Jarrett, and the executive director of the Campaign for Female Education Angeline Murimirwa, according to People, the panel’s chairwoman, Anne McElvoy, asked Markle, “How’s that bump treating you?” The duchess replied, “Very well! It’s funny, I’ve actually been joking in the past few weeks—I had seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism, and one of the things they said during pregnancy was, ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism.’ I love that! So boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case with our little bump.”
Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack here. For one thing, it’s confirmation that Markle and Prince Harry spend their free time watching Netflix like the rest of us, begging the question of what else is in their queue besides documentaries like Feminists: What Were They Thinking?, from which that quote reportedly originated. Is their Frogmore Cottage one of the surprisingly few British households that watched The Crown? Did they choose their own adventure with Bandersnatch? And, most importantly, how did they feel about all those Bird Box memes?
For another, more significant thing, Markle’s quip also marks one of the rare times that a member of the royal family has spoken openly about gender politics. While the royals have undoubtedly gotten more progressive in recent years—especially with their outspoken and ongoing campaign to destigmatize mental-health issues—mentions of feminism are still few and far between during their official appointments. In a refreshing shake-up, that was the primary topic of discussion during Friday’s panel: Markle and her guests spoke about normalizing menstruation, improving girls’ access to education around the world, and making feminism more inclusive.
“I think when we talk about gender stereotype shifting—what it means to be masculine, what it means to be feminine—you know I’ve said for a long time: You can be feminine and feminist. You can be masculine. And I think, in terms of masculinity, you understand that your strength includes knowing your vulnerabilities and your sense of self and security,” Markle said at one point. “This is really about us working together. That’s what gender equality means for me, and having men part of that conversation saying there’s nothing threatening about a woman coming up to the same level.…So I hope that men are part of the conversation. My husband certainly is.”