Meghan Markle’s Bodyguard Is A Woman, So Of Course The Media Coverage About Her Is Sexist
By Georgia Aspinall Posted on 24 Oct 2018
‘Armed and in killer heels’, one headline reads. ‘The glamorous officer’ another publication uses. ‘The blonde’ repeats another several times. These descriptions are all in reference to Meghan Markle’s bodyguard, who happens to be a woman.
The protection officer, who can’t be named for security reasons, made headlines this morning when she was seen escorting Meghan out of a market in Fiji after overcrowding led to security concerns. It’s a relatively underwhelming video given the description. She supposedly swooped in to rush Meghan out of the market only six minutes after arriving. In reality, she’s seen walking calmly in front of Meghan as she exits the market smiling and greeting fans.
Of course, hyperbole when it comes to Meghan Markle’s day-to-day activities is no new ritual for the media. However, in this case it seems like overkill to talk about the fact that Meghan’s bodyguard is a woman, and make use of all those sexist adjectives on the Daily Mail roster when talking about women.
It’s not just the Daily Mail though, numerous publications have chosen to focus on the fact that Meghan’s head of security is female, as if we should somehow be surprised. Female bodyguards have been working in the UK since the 1980s, at least that’s when Jacquie Davis – who claims to be the first female bodyguard – began working in the industry. Since then, there are many, many examples of high-profile female security officers.
Both our former Prime Ministers, David Cameron and Tony Blair, had female bodyguards, as does Beyoncé. It’s not even out of the remit for a royal to have a female protection officer, as Kate Middleton is known to be great friends with hers, Emma Propert. So, are we meant to be surprised that Meghan has one?
Of course, the focus on Meghan’s bodyguard being a woman isn’t the primary offence to take, it’s the language used to describe her. The fact that she’s blonde, she’s ‘glamorous’, she wears heels, they’re all the choice descriptors for a woman who in actuality, doesn’t dress all that glamorously, nor does she wear ‘killer high heels’.
If it were true, and Meghan had a seriously chic security team, a la Emmanuel Macron, that would be one thing, but the fact is, she’s dressed casually, in a black t-shirt, blue skirt and beige pumps, notably blending in. In fact, the ‘killer high heels’ many are referring to are beige kitten heels she wore once at the start of Meghan and Harry’s royal tour. Did we miss something? Have beige kitten heels suddenly taken on an entire new meaning?
To focus on her appearance so intently when there is no real reason to is just textbook sexism. Can you imagine a male bodyguard dressed in similar attire being described as glamorous? Never. And actually, it is likely the exact opposite of what she is intending with her clothes, since female bodyguards are known to dress down as nannies or friends in order to blend in.
‘Nine times out of ten the people I work for want someone who can blend in,’ commercial protection officer Lisa Baldwin told to The Times. ‘They don’t want obvious security, like the kind used by Madonna or Britney Spears. Those bodyguards, the big guys, actually draw attention to the clients and put them at more stress and risk.’
According to Baldwin, since she began working in the industry 13 years ago, the number of women working as protection officers has soared, as well as demand for them. And while it may still be a male-dominated industry, it certainly shouldn’t be a surprise to us that Meghan has a female bodyguard. To be shocked is, frankly, really patronising.
So, no, she’s not ‘armed and in killer heels’, and she shouldn’t be reduced to ‘the blonde’ when discussing her protection of Meghan. She’s literally just a woman doing her job, and a bloody good one at that.
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