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The double standard is glaring.
There are many words used to keep women in the narrow place society has carved out for us: “bossy,” “hysterical,” “hormonal,” “shrill,” as well as ruder declinations of these same ideas.
On the first episode in the series, she speaks with famously ambitious woman Serena Williams about the word “ambition” itself, and how it’s negatively associated with women but positively associated with men.
But for many years Meghan didn’t realise that being an ambitious woman could be a bad thing, because it had never been used in a derogatory way towards her, and ambition was actually encouraged in her and her classmates at the Catholic school she attended in Los Angeles. It was only after meeting Prince Harry, she explains, that she unfortunately got to see the other side of the coin.
“I don’t ever remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ‘ambitious’ until I started dating my now-husband, and apparently ambition is a terrible, terrible thing — for a woman that is, according to some,” Meghan says, while laughing at the irony of it all.
“So since I felt the negativity behind it, it’s really hard to unfeel it,” she continues. “I can’t unsee it, either, in the millions of girls and women who make themselves smaller, so much smaller, on a regular basis. So I wanted to talk to someone who embodies the spirit of ambition, to see how she thinks about the word and the connotation, and how the other many labels that affect all women have affected her too.”
With the help of Serena and University of California, Berkeley professor Laura Kray, Meghan spends the rest of the episode rethinking the word “ambition,” and what it should really mean to women, and to mums with high-profile careers in particular.
Archetypes is available to listen to now on Spotify.