Not only has Meghan Markle gained recognition for her royal status, but she’s also made a name for herself as a female advocate; the Duchess of Sussex decided to dedicate her entire podcast, Archetypes, to exploring and dismantling the labels that define women in our society. For the final episode of the season, which was released on November 29, 2022, the royal opened up the conversation to the men. Andy Cohen, Trevor Noah, and Judd Apatow all joined her to talk about female stereotypes, and the idea for the episode came from none other than Prince Harry.
On the episode, Markle explains that inviting female guests, such as Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, and Mindy Kaling, was an intentional choice that was meant to give women a platform to share their experiences and insights. “Now, if you've been listening to the past 11 episodes, you may have noticed that you haven't heard many men's voices,” she says. “In fact, until now, outside a pop-in from my husband in the first episode, this show has featured exclusively women's voices, and that's by design. It was important to us that women have a space to share their authentic and complicated, complex and dynamic experiences—to be heard and to be understood."
After talking about the podcast with the Duke of Sussex, the Archetypes host decided to branch out. “But through that process, it also occurred to me—and truth be told, at the suggestion of my husband—that if we really want to shift how we think about gender and the limiting labels that we separate people into, then we have to broaden the conversation, and we have to actively include men in that conversation and certainly in that effort.” Markle explains that she selected male guests with successful careers but who are also activists in the media or their family lives.
While speaking with The Daily Show host, Markle discusses writing The Bench, a children’s book inspired by Prince Harry’s relationship with Archie, which she released in 2021. She reveals that the book also takes a glimpse into “this softer side of masculinity,” which her husband embodies and models for Archie. “That's the person that the young boy can look to and say, 'Oh, this is what it means to be a man,'" she begins. "'This is the example of that. That's the person that I can go to when I'm crying, and that's the person that will sit with me. That's the person that can put the Band-Aid on my knee.’ And that level of being nurtured can come from a male figure in your life just as much as it can from a female figure, but also for those male figures that it feels really good to be able to provide that and to be able to show that part of your personality—that it doesn't make you less of a man in doing so."
Markle wraps up the episode by reflecting on her podcast and describing how the experience has been cathartic for herself and other female listeners. "I don't know what I'd been expecting, but what's come out of it for me has been illuminating and also ironic because while this format is only audio and each week I use my voice, you can hear my thoughts without any visual,” she reveals. “I feel seen. I had never considered that in using my voice that I would feel seen, but I do. And so much of the feedback throughout the season from women is that they feel seen as well. As we heard today, that men see our experience differently now, too. They see us. They see us more clearly."
By having various guests on the podcast, Markle has also learned an important lesson. “Finding common ground and discovering that people that come from different worlds and have different life experiences still share so many of the same feelings,” she says. “I learned how much more similar we are than different.”