We see it in the headlines all the time. A famous male athlete, or celebrity, or businessman, or politician makes the choice to step away from their work to spend more time with family, and the world praises the parent profusely.
In 2016, Montreal-born Google CFO Patrick Pichette announced that he would be stepping down from his role to spend more time with his family after an epiphany he had while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife. His departure memo went viral, noted in one headline as “The Best ‘Spend Time With Family’ Memo Ever.”
In 2017, Ottawa Senators player Mike Fisher stepped away from his NHL career to focus on family, and was flattered by fans. And in 2018, Paul Ryan, politician and Speaker of the House announced that he would be retiring from Congress so he could “stop being a weekend dad,” and the world listened.
These dads made headlines for their decisions, congratulated for their courageous choice to put their children first and their careers on the backburner. Lauded for their love of family. But if they had been women, this would not have been the case.
For women, it seems to be quite the opposite. Women like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who took on a leadership role while pregnant, or New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was celebrated for being New Zealand’s first prime minister to be pregnant while in office, are congratulated when they succeed in their careers - despite having families. It’s a double standard that continues to exist, and it’s exactly what is happening to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, too.
In a viral Facebook post shared by Diah Schippell, this double standard is made all too clear. “One day a woman gave up her lucrative career that she loved, worked hard for and excelled at as well as earning millions to be with the man that she loves,” the post begins. The author goes on to highlight all of the sacrifices that Markle has made - leaving her family, giving up all privacy, staying strong during a slew of public scrutiny, her challenging pregnancy, experiencing postpartum while in the spotlight.
“The world never bat an eyelid over everything she gave up. The entire world chewed her up, spat her out and then demanded more,” the author said.
Then the author flips the script, sharing how the public reacted so differently to Harry’s choice to put his wife and child’s health and wellbeing first. “That grown man, who is very capable of making his own choices, decided to give up his career to be with the woman he loves. And the entire world went mad…” the post concludes.
And so the term “Megxit” was born (a portmanteau of Meghan and exit). While it was a joint decision, the world blames Meghan for Harry’s decision to step down and focus on family. While sacrifices have been made by both parties, Meghan is taking the brunt of the blame and Harry is seen as a saint. The double standard still exists, and it’s time to stop.
The couple are making the right decision for their family - a decision they have made together, and it’s one to be celebrated. Let’s stop calling it #Megxit and start recognizing that both parents are equally as capable of making the choice to change their lives for the better - together.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, the editor of WestCoast Families magazine, and a freelance writer who shares about travel, family, and food in various major print and online publications. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.