Why, to Kensington Palace, of course.
“Vivid bedroom promises.” An “ arm up [Harry’s] bottom.” Sleepless teeth grinding, Jeremy’s dark of night “daydreaming” between his sheets of Meghan “parading naked” through the streets.
To many, Jeremy Clarkson’s now-deleted and very nasty anti-Meghan diatribe was “dark humor,” or tawdriness beyond the pale. To me, it was the haunting of domination and violent sexualization suffered on women of color by the ever-fascinated white male.
If you have seen it enough — and I have experienced it for decades — it is impossible to miss.
It has a briny, post-coital smell: “along came Meghan, who obviously used some vivid bedroom promises to turn [Harry] into a warrior of woke. . . . [S]he has her arm so far up his bottom, she can use her fingers to alter his facial expressions.”
It has an inexplicable current of anger: “Meghan, though, is a different story. I hate her. Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level.”
It leaves the door open for plausible deniability despite its undeniably wet leer: “I made a clumsy reference to Game of Thrones that has gone down badly with a great many people.”
Perhaps most dangerously, though, it has an unmistakable predator-prey undercurrent of Harriet Jacobs’ Dr. Flint in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. “At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth,” Clarkson bemoans, “dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”
Read that again. Not unlike Jacobs’ vile slaver, Clarkson rips Markle from her marital bed and drags her into the sexual perversions of his own.
Most perpetrators of sexual violence are white men; most victims of sexual violence are indigenous or black women.
That is where traditional sexual harassment and harassment unique to women of color diverge. Ours is not the exploitation of the pure, sacred fruit spoiling for a forbidden bite. No, we are the jezebels, complicit, lewd and beguiling. That distinction is huge. In the former, deviance is visited upon the innocent; in the latter, masochism is served upon the deserving. “Look at her just asking for it. Shame! Shame! Shame!”
Huckabee walks right up to the Mata Hari. “Beyoncé is incredibly talented — gifted, in fact. . . . She is a terrific dancer — without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom.” Then, like Clarkson, he pistons right over her edge. “I wonder: Does it occur to [Jay-Z] that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?”
Both Markle and Knowles are black women. Both Clarkson and Huckabee are white men. And like the oft-eschewed history of black-flesh-as-property they share, Markle’s and Knowles’ presumed indecency is the men’s fair game. Search the whole of English journalism — tabloids or otherwise — and you will likely find not a single suggestion that Catherine, the Princess of Wales, even has a bed chamber. But Clarkson, as with Huckabee and Knowles, blows right through those chamber doors, stopping just short of calling the Duchess of Sussex a whore.
And, where do whores go? To Kensington Palace, of course.
White, male recasting “builds an exoneration scheme into his sexual offense: it was not my fault; I was not myself; and, she made me do it.”
Notably, and unlike Jay-Z, Harry is no pimp. He is the innocent dupe. Clarkson describes the Duke as “a slightly dim but fun-loving chin” who flew gunships and cavorted with naked hookers. Harry is happened upon and seduced by Meghan, who bewitches him into the puppet we see today. That black widow, Clarkson cheeks, will predictably abandon the poor ginger for an even bigger kill.
Take a moment to appreciate how Huckabee’s and Clarkson’s cleaving of race-based stereotypes also sticks to men.
Jay-Z is the criminal. Knowles had been performing for over a decade before meeting and marrying Carter. Carter had no agency over his wife, who expressly pilots her professional id. Carter had no involvement in why Huckabee raved (that is, that the Obamas allowed their then minor daughters to consume Beyoncé’s music and performances). Jay-Z was minding his business, yet Huckabee re-invented him as lacking in humanity and dignity — an amoral street hustler who turned out his own wife for personal gain.
Harry is the choir boy. Harry, on the other hand, actually engaged in violence and debasement. He piloted a heavily armed war-hammer , a military tool of mass destruction and death. He exploited and objectificatied of women. He splashed freely, gleefully even, in the human flesh industry. Yet when Clarkson re-invented Harry, twas not violence or debauchery we read. No, Harry was the guileless and clumsily charming ingenue of 33, too green yet to wear his royally-trained big boy knickers.
To do these things, Huckabee and Clarkson had to want it — really want it — because the facts to speak those ugly stereotypes into existence simply did not exist.
As with Meghan the Temptress, Harry the Facile’s white, male recasting is key. It builds an exoneration scheme into his sexual offense: it was not my fault; I was not myself; and, she made me do it. The net effect is that it makes it easier, at a granular level, to reduce us to our sex parts. To see us as promiscuous, at any age, then hurt us. To self-exonerate as mere victims of our sirens in the gale.
The Sun — which published the obscenity — has been the subject of nearly 21k complaints made to the UK watchdog agency IPSO — the independent press standards organization. Clarkson’s hit piece has become IPSO’s most complained about article of all time. In fact, IPSO has thus far received a full 8k more complaints for this one piece than it did in all of 2021.
More than 60 non-partisan members of the UK parliament demanded an apology and action against Clarkson from The Sun’s editor.
The Scottish National Party’s shadow culture minister called for his total TV ban.
Even Clarkson’s daughter Emily took up against her father, saying “I want to make it very clear that I stand against everything my dad wrote about Meghan Markle.”
Sadly, though, the purely anti-misogynistic response misses an opportunity to debride another wound — fetid yes, but also ripe for healing. White men casually demote and then sexualize black women to make us come to heel. Sometimes it done subtly, sometimes not. But, this oft-used cruel tool of dominance requires exposure to bring its use to an end.
Remember, racism is RACE ABUSE. It is not a misunderstanding from the very-well understood. The abused co-owns nothing with her abuser. It matters not if it is a “one-off.” There is no good credit for lack of intent. One’s state of mind is between the abuser and his therapist, but the entire universe of consequences is the property of the abused.
That bears repeating.
Racism is race abuse. One’s state of mind is between the abuser and his therapist, but the entire universe of consequences is the property of the abused.
And let us never forget that there is no entitlement for the conduct of the abuser to darken the doorstep of the abused.
Before you engage me or others, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Catherine Pugh is an Attorney at Law and former Adjunct Professor at the Temple University, Japan. She developed and taught Race and the Law for its undergraduate program, and Evidence, Criminal Law, and Criminal and Civil Procedure for its law program. She has worked for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, and was a Public Defender for the State of Maryland. View her Race and Profiling Lecture Series appearance here. The view expressed here are personal. Nothing in this or any Medium writing is a legal recommendation, legal advice, or a legal opinion.
To my sweetest of loves: I am the wall for them; you are the wall for me. And nothing — nothing — has ever gotten past you. You are my everything. #CubanKitchen.
“It takes the wisdom of the elders . . .” Thank you for teaching us, loving us, leading us all: Mary Stovall Davis Budd, Andrea Tucker, Lorenzo Pugh, Dorris Pugh, Jacqueline Wallace, Roger Wallace, Kenneth Davis, Sandra Davis, and Karen Davis.
Keywords: race, racism, culture, and society.